Intro and question re having to retake courses taken years ago

Greetings potential future colleagues! I am a 47 year old non-trad in NYC giving a career in medicine a very close look. I majored in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech back in 1992 and from Cornell Law School in 1995. I practiced law in NYC for 10 years and left it because I realized I did not love being a professional adversary. For the past 10 years, I have been a partner in a small executive recruiting firm that places lawyers into senior roles at companies, such as general counsels.

To try and keep a long story short, after my dad died suddenly a couple years ago, I started giving my professional life a hard look and realized I’ve been unfulfilled by what I do because it is not intellectually challenging, and while I do help people in making big career changes in their lives, I always feel like I wish I could have a greater impact on making people’s lives better, and medicine had always been in the back of my mind as a missed opportunity. (The slightly longer version of why I did not pursue medicine after college is that my sister died of cancer while in college after a six year battle, and at that point in my life, medicine meant the opposite of hope and healing to me - it just meant death.)

Last year, I enrolled in online classes at UC Berkeley Extension, and took biology, and was blown away by how much I loved it. (I also took chemistry to refresh my memory.) I just finished their course in biological psychology, and again absolutely devoured everything. It’s giving me the intellectual stimulation I’ve been craving and is further fueling my interest. I’m currently taking organic chemistry through them.

My question is this. If I do some kind of post-bacc program - I live in NYC and could probably do evening classes at Fordham - will I have to retake every post-bacc course given my time out of school? Because I majored in engineering, I took boatloads of physics, chemistry and calculus courses in college (and graduated with a 3.9). Certainly I will probably need to take more life science classes such as more organic chemistry and biochemistry, but I wonder if medical schools will disregard everything from so long ago and will insist on retaking calculus, chemistry, physics, even English?

Thanks for any advice!


It had also been over 20 years since my undergrad experience. I was a bio major and had been teaching high school biology and A&P for almost 10 years. I was only asked to take 20 hours of upper level bio courses.

Just started a FB group called “med school after 30” by the way. Feel free to join.

When I applied, my oldest class was 13 years old, though I had some more recent classes taken as a DIY post-bacc since I hadn’t taken some of the prereqs before. I spoke with one admissions dean who said it was good that I showed some good academic recency.

That being said, only certain schools set deadlines on their prerequisites (some recommended, some required). If you don’t feel you absolutely have to attend one of those schools, then I don’t think you really need to retake anything that you did well in. The MCAT is the great equalizer and will help you and the school figure out if you actually retained the information. If you need the refresher, then it might not be a bad idea. I did a commercial prep course which retaught me all of the stuff I had previously brain dumped. I think grades are more of an indicator of how well you can learn material. Med school will teach you everything you thought you knew, plus all of the stuff they want you to know.