Meet the newest of your crazed brethren! Iâ€™m an almost 32 year-old male, single and no kids, beginning to explore the insane idea of switching careers and dedicating at least the next decade or so of my life to the pursuit of a medical degree. Iâ€™ve been reading the posts on the board and find this place to be an invaluable resource. Thanks for your dedication to answering othersâ€™ questions, and congrats to all of those who have taken the journey and are succeeding; youâ€™re an inspiration to the rest of us who are still on the fence!
I have a bachelors (2000) and masters (2002) in materials science and engineering from Brown. The dream entering college, however, was to become a doctor. I really enjoyed biology in high school. Before my senior year, the curriculum expanded to include an elective in anatomy and physiology. Naturally, I took this class, which only seemed to enhance my interest in pursuing medicine. Through the course of thinking about what I might choose as a major in college, I learned about the field of biomedical engineering (BME). This seemed like a perfect fit for my strong interest in biology/medicine and math, as well as a natural way to complete the pre-med requirements, since most of them would likely fall within the BME curriculum. So, with the master plan in place, I applied to colleges with BME programs.
I chose Brown, but to my surprise when I arrived on campus, I learned Brown was beginning to phase out its BME program. (Itâ€™s become such a hot field that it has since been revived.) Also, it turned out that it wasnâ€™t as established a program as I had imagined. I still had the opportunity to pursue a BME degree, but given the circumstances, it didnâ€™t seem like a good idea to me to take that path…
So what happened? Not unlike the experiences of many freshmen, I suppose, the adjustment to college proved to be challenging. I was finding the workload a bit of a struggle (but in hindsight it was probably a case of little-fish-in-a-big-pond syndrome more than anything else, if you know what I mean). Despite BME no longer being an option, I was planning to stay in the engineering track and still fulfill the pre-med requirements, but I soon began to feel that this might be too much to handle… My dad, himself an engineer, convinced me to ride out engineering for at least my freshman year. I listened, but still felt that something had to give, so it was out with the pre-med plan during the very first semester of college. Itâ€™s crazy to me now how blithely I shoved the dream of medicine aside, but when youâ€™re young and naÃ¯ve I suppose those are the kinds of decisions you make. (Iâ€™m fully aware that that youthful naivete also had its benefits at times, though. )
I stayed in the engineering track and fell into materials engineering. Iâ€™ve been working as a materials engineer in industry for almost 8 years now. The dissatisfaction with my career has steadily increased, while the frequency with which my thoughts return to medicine increases…and so here I am.
As Iâ€™m contemplating this daunting undertaking, a few questions have come to mind hat I hope the OPMs out there can try to answer for me:
- Iâ€™m attracted to the idea of a formal post-bac program (Bryn Mawr, Goucher, Hopkins, UVA, etc.) to meet the pre-med requirements, especially since if Iâ€™m convinced that this is what I want to do, the application window for the next wave of these programs is soon opening up and I could potentially start next summer. From what Iâ€™ve read about these programs, however, I canâ€™t determine whether Iâ€™d be eligible for them. They state theyâ€™re for candidates who have not completed the pre-med requirements, although some mention that candidates who have taken only a small portion of the required classes are considered. Additionally, itâ€™s often mentioned that courses can be repeated if they havenâ€™t been taken within the last five years. As an undergrad, I took Bio 1 and Chem 1 & Chem 2. Iâ€˜ve also had some physics through my engineering coursework, of course, but never took formal Phys 1 & Phys 2 type classes. In short, I feel that I would need to re-take all of the required courses given that I havenâ€˜t seen the material in over 10 years. Would the post-bac programs along the lines of those previously mentioned consider someone in my situation for admission?
- I took full advantage of Brownâ€™s open curriculum (no required core courses), which is to say that I didnâ€™t take a single English class in college. I now see that this could come back to haunt me, as many med schools seem to require 2 semesters of English according to the list I found here: http://www.haverford.edu/deans/prehealth/docum ents… Are schools flexible at all with this requirement? In other words, do they waive this requirement for an applicant who is an otherwise strong candidate? Should I be considering taking an English class ASAP?!
- Iâ€™ve been volunteering at a hospital one night a week for 2-3 hours for the past three years. During this time, Iâ€™ve functioned in the same capacity as a book cart volunteer. As one might imagine, this consists of visiting patients and asking them if theyâ€™d like something to read from the hospitalâ€™s lending library. Itâ€™s something that Iâ€™ve really enjoyed and that has most certainly heightened my renewed interest in medicine, but Iâ€™m wondering how this experience will be looked upon in the application process. It hasnâ€™t necessarily enhanced my knowledge of medicine per se, but what it has done is provide a whole lot of patient interaction, which I hope would be considered favorable. What are your thoughts?
I appreciate any input that you experienced OPMs can offer me in response to these questions and to either confirm or refute that Iâ€™m out of my mind to be contemplating this idea!