Introduction and advice

First off - I must say this is such an inspiring group. I’ve spent weeks reading diaries and these threads and LOVE watching what you’re all accomplishing.

I’m 43 years old and cannot shake the passion and desire to go for med school. Here’s my biggest problem though - I still do not have a Bachelor’s Degree. For many reasons I did not attend college after high school (mostly financial and family issues), I’ve taken a handful of classes off and on over the years but regret that I don’t have that 4-year degree.

I have a lot of work experience (currently in an admin position in a hospital) and LOTS of patient experience as I’ve had numerous health issues over the years and my daughter is a regular patient at Hopkins for IV infusions due to a blood disorder. I’ve become a “med student” by proxy and now that my years of needing to be home and really focus on my daughter’s health are slowing down I finally know what I want to be “when I grow up” and am very afraid that with the lack of any kind of degree it will not be possible.

I have been strongly considering going the nursing route. We have a great nursing program here at our local community college and a BSN program at a 4-year school. I feel like the nursing route IS the most direct route to MD for me, but I also know from all I’ve read here that med schools may not look favorably on me going through the nursing program and immediately applying to med school.

I know I’m smart enough to do this, I’m just afraid I’m way too late.

Would love to hear some feedback from anyone.

Thanks for your time!

cmoss -

If you are really interested in nursing that may be a route to take. I taught nursing for many years, and myself got into medical school from a nursing background - it was, however, with a background a many years experience as a nurse and NP. If I may, I would like to point out a few downsides that you may not be aware of.

  1. The general science courses that you take for nursing are not exactly the same as the premed courses. So after your BSN, you would still probably need both semesters of physics, possibly a second semester of general chemistry, and definately both semesters of organic chemistry

  2. A nursing program might make you subject to “grade deflation”. Many, if not all nursing programs, require a minimum grade of 80 for passing. As a result, they may have more stringent number requirements for a particular letter grade, which could affect your GPA and thus affect your med school application.

  3. The nursing courses and the amount of practical experience you get during nursing school is perhaps not a good preparation for medical school as a few higher level biology classes would be.


    1, Nursing testing is designed to measure critical thinking and they attempt to teach you critical thinking (as much as it can be taught). This will probably be a boost when taking the MCAT (which also tries to measure critical thinking).

  4. opportunity to develop contacts for future shadowing, potentially.

  5. Greater degree of comfort in years 3 and 4 with functioning in the hospital environment.

    That’s all I have time for tonight!

    Best of luck!!


Kate, I’m SO delighted to hear from you, in particular! You’re my absolute hero right now. I’ve read all of your diary and wow! What an inspiration!

Thank you for the advise. I did not really think about the med school pre-reqs AFTER nursing school. So glad you pointed that out. Do I really want to be a nurse? I don’t know. I feel like I lean that way only because it’s more attainable at my age. I’m comfortable around sick people, very comfortable around grieving and death, because of my own personal experiences. But the only reason I ever even considered becoming a nurse is because I really want to be a doctor and heard a lot of “You’re crazy. You’re too old. Just be a nurse.” I know that if i just settle and go that route, it will be just that - settling. At this point if I’m going to go for something I’d rather it be med school. If I can’t pass the MCAT’s THEN maybe I’ll think about nursing as a fall back.

So this brings me back to getting my undergrad degree. All accelerated degrees are business related and would still leave me without the med school pre reqs (plus I understand most med schools don’t look favorably on accelerated programs.) Would love to find a Bachelor Degree program in something like Public Health or Health Admin and see if I could use my biology and chem requirements as electives. My GPA right now with the handful of classes I have is 3.7.

I can’t do a post-bacc because I have no Bachelors Degree. Is my idea above good or should I just get my undergrad in biology to boost my MCAT?

It’s early - I hope I’m not rambling too much!

Thanks again for your help and advice. MUCH appreciated!!


You have already received some strong advice from a forum member who can say she has ‘been there, done that’, but I’ll throw in my few pennies as you and I share mildly similar backgrounds.

I came to the table without a bachelors as well. In my case I had 8 semesters, off and on, of mostly A’s and F’s. I quit an administrative job, in my 40’s, to go back to school. I had significant exposure to a segment of healthcare, though, thankfully not as a patient or a parent of a patient as you have had to do.

I thought seriously about becoming a health care provider via the NP or PA route. In particular nursing held out some advantages to me. I could transition into a RN role in about a year through an online program. After that I could obtain a BSN, a MSN or an NP going to school part time/online and still work - I’ve watched many of the nurses that I work with do just that.

For me though, the more I worked with both mid levels and physicians, the more I knew that I wanted to try to complete the education of a physician and obtain that position. With that in mind, I came across the issues that Kate mentioned. Why take Chemistry for Nursing, Introductory Physiology or Biochemistry for Nursing when they aren’t going to count as a prereqs? On a side note, what is even more amazing to me (and turned me off a little bit on nursing education) was that after taking College Chemistry I & II, Organic Chem I, Human Physiology and straight up Biochemistry at my university, if I wanted to try to attend their BSN program, none of the the premed sciences count and I would have to take all the nursing classes anyway.

I still think nursing is an excellent option to obtaining health care experience, to having a career that is flexible while you attend school, to progress towards a mid level provider position. The pay is excellent, you can almost work part-time for good pay, the jobs are abundant, etc, etc. But for me, even being able to get an RN in a year, a BSN in say another year to two, it didn’t put me (in my small opinion) closer to a med school application. I may still end up as a nurse if I fail to matriculate, but from the front side it doesn’t appear to be a direct enough route for me.

Hope the perspective is worth your reading time!


Once you add in the standard premed classes (8 hours each bio, chemistry, ochem, and physics; let’s say 6 hours each math and English; total, let’s say, of 32 + 12 = 44 hours) then how far away are you from a B.A.?

I wouldn’t get too hung up on major requirements at this point. Many schools are willing to cut older degree finishers a little slack with a customized program. So I wouldn’t (say) flip open the catalog to psychology and worry about what they want regular undergrads to do. Just figure out (if you want) how much you would have left AFTER premed is done.

As for nursing as a PREPARATION for medical school…the short answer is no. Working for many years as an RN, CNM, or NP is very, very different than just taking nursing school in isolation. Nursing school just by itself is not, according to most all of the nurses I’ve spoken to, anything to write home about.

Parenthetically, do you test well? If I were in your place with no bachelor’s, I would look into CLEP credit for the odd subject I happened to know something about. Not, I mean, science subjects…I mean other things to knock a course off here and there.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience! It’s a bit crazy, isn’t it? I’ve got a pretty cush part-time job at our local hospital right now, though it does not pay what nursing would. However, my boss is amazing and I pretty much hand-pick my hours. I have a lot of patient contact and I’m developing strong relationships with staff doctors and nurses, as well as top administrators. I may be better off to stay where I am, as far as a job goes and work on getting my undergrad done with a strong emphasis on the pre-med courses you both mentioned.

I’m so glad I found this group! When I think about going for the MD as opposed to RN/BSN I get absolutely giddy!

See also my edit re: CLEP. I think our posts crossed.

ALSO: keep that stable part-time job if you have it!! THAT right there is your meal ticket! I can’t even tell you what I went through working unstable jobs and taking prereqs. With a decent job all things are possible.

Thanks, Lurkation!

I’ve got about 24 credit hours under my belt now. Not a lot, but I DO test well and have looked at maybe getting some credits through CLEP’s. Definitely worth looking into more!

Thanks for the job advice, too. I felt the same way! I’m in a great position with this job. They are super supportive of me and have been an absolute blessing. They’re very encouraging on my interest in furthering my education no matter what direction I take.

Yep, you just got some more good advice. I clepped Interp of Lit and an Econ, just to put some credits in the column. Unfortunately for me I had 30+ credits of technical college credit which transferred for ungraded credit, which puts me closer to a degree, but didn’t really leave any room for CLEP or soft electives.

There are many good CLEP info sites out there. is one I used. They don’t really help you prepare for the MCAT or be a good college student (IMHO). But they can clear away some of those pesky requirements for the degree. And you can pick up some solid electives like Pysch . . .

In my case, I came in with 70 hours, got 25 of them wiped out so my GPA looked better and took 15 hours settling in while I worked full time. I then jumped a flexible, decent paying health care job that was full time and spent some time trying to keep my head above water. This may not apply to you, but my 25 years out of school DID NOT prepare me to be a college student as much as my cockiness thought it was going to. I hadn’t taken any sciences or advanced math in high school and my college work after was either liberal arts or technical. I paid for it in Organic. I’m smart enough, but was a lousy student and tried to carry 15 hours, a full time job, a part time job, four kids and a marriage. Managed to drop almost all of it.

So if your job is that good, hang on to it! I’m part time now and that is worth two A’s a semester (vs B’s)! LOL

What I did was look at my pre-reqs for med school, my pre-reqs for a bachelors, what I had already and then picked a degree that I 1) Liked and 2) was the most direct route.

My advisor steered me to a generic, pre-med degree called multi-disciplinary sciences. I opted instead for a Human Physiology degree, though I am still wavering between the BA and BS as the BA will get me out 1 semester sooner by basically skipping calculus and the prereqs to calc.

Good luck to ya,


Crepitus - thank you!! It sounds like you’re heading on the same path that I want to go!

There is a great college here in my town that actually has a pre-med program. I think I may meet with the counselor there, see what pieces I can pull from the community college (to save money and make sure they count!), work on the CLEP in and start putting one foot in front of the other;)

My sister always says “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

I’m so grateful that I’ve found this board and some like-minded people!

Just don’t get demoralized if the counselors at the premed program tell you to get lost. Look at this board…43 is not all that old here. Finishing a B.A. is actually better than overcoming a heinous GPA from a long-ago already-existing B.A…

If I were you…your mileage may vary, YMMV…I would cut all kinds of corners on the non-premed stuff so as to be maximally legit on the premed courses. As in, take elective X online or do whatever you have to do to be primed for chem 1 in person at the 4-year institution.

I would, however, start thinking about science letters NOW. In my experience it was one thing to take course X at night, but quite another to develop a non-fake relationship with the prof. under those circumstances. If you are in contact with MD/DOs already, then there’s a good path to a shadowing letter. Your previous life will probably generate another letter.


I was in similar situation. I took many CLEPs and also Dantes ( they have some upper level credits)

Just talk to the college adviser from the college You are going to obtain your degree, because not all Cleps are transferable and some ( like language ) you need more points for full credit. Some schools also give credit for previous experience or let you test out ( for example if you know a lot about computers you can take Comptia exam and get few credits). There is lot of opportunities.

Good luck. It takes time, but You can do it.

It took me 9 years, but today I am studying for my last exams in first semester of American medical school.

Andrew Z.