Introductions and Introductory Questions

Hello all,

I am pretty new to OldPreMeds, and this is my first post. I’m a 35 year old career professional, and I’m thinking about a change to medicine. So far, this site looks like a great resource, with a lot of helpful folks. I have some pretty newbie questions, but I’m going to ask them anyway in hopes that the group might provide some insight on my particular situation. Additional personal background includes an undergrad biology degree, but with poor grades (I wasn’t emotionally ready for college at the time). I have a recent MBA with a 3.7 GPA. I have a very successful career with a lot of management, leadership, project management and strategic experience. I’m talented and hard-working, but at 35, I’m looking for something that I’m more dedicated to, personally.

I’m a bit nervous about some of these, but here goes:

Am I being foolish going to medical school at my age given the changing environment of medicine? Money isn’t everything, but physician pay/reimbursements are declining, yet education costs are not going down. Will I be in debt for 15 years after this 15 year journey ends?!? I know you’ll all balk at the age part, but I do worry about the age/school debt thing.

Am I dreaming to think that I can retake some of my basic science undergrad courses, do well in them and the mcat, and still be a reasonably competitive candidate? Of course, doc shadowing, community service, etc. are included.

How important is a good medical school vs. a good residency program?

Should the medical school have an established teaching hospital with many specialty areas for clinicals, or is it ok to rely on local practices for a lot of year 3 (some local schools rely heavily on local docs for clinical rotations).

Does anyone have any experience with academic medicine/teaching med school students and residents? What are the qualifications? Phd required? Is it only for superstar geniuses? Does it mean you make a lot less in general?

The advisor at my local university said I should take two years off to redo courses since it’d show a commitment, but given my recent MBA efforts and all the other activities, would it make that much of a difference to do it in one year plus a summer? I’d have to quit my job either way and it’s almost a year between acceptance time and enrollment as it is!

Thanks in advance to everyone for helping me out!

CJMed -

welcome! Let me address some of your questions. You say you had “poor” grades in undergrad, but not how poor. The masters GPA will not count as much - they will be scrutinizing your undergrad and specifically your science gpa the most. Retaking courses in one year is fine if as you say you are planning to stop working. What’s key is doing VERY well in them. That won’t help your gpa much although for the DO school application the new grades will replace old ones, but it will give you an opportunity to show an upward trend with your science grades. If two years of courses would get you over a 3.0 gpa and 1 wouldn’nt, I’d do two.

For interest in academic medicine - I don’t have experience but a PhD is NOT required. There are clinical faculty (docs) and science faculty (PhD). Not only for superstar geniuses but you ought to get a graduate teaching assistant position if you hope to teach in academic medicine. Our med school has an application/interview process for several GTA positions. It adds a year to your med school but if you want to teach it is important, and it pays for the last 2 years of med school. Don’t know how other schools do it. Also don’t know salaries but my impression is that you DO make less in academia.

See what the other folks on here say. Oh, and you will probably be in debt 15 years, but the schooling will only take 1 or 2 for postbacc courses, 4 (or 5) for med school, and then you are getting paid some in residency so we are talking 5-7 years (not 15) of complete poverty, followed by 3-7 years (depending on specialty) of relative poverty (salaries in the 50,000 but payments on loans eat up much of that).

Enough with the bad news…


Thank you so much, Kate. This is very helpful.

I don’t think there’s any way to get post-bac done in a year, or close to it, without going full time. My GPA was in the two’s, (embarrassing : ) but I think that if I don’t do very well in post-bac classes, it would indicate that this might not be a good road for me anyway. I still have to calculate what my GPA would be with great post-bac grades, though. I intend to do very well and am committed to creating the right environment; I would just prefer 1 1/3 years vs two. Plus I think I’d like to take the MCAT before 2015.

Thanks for your opinion on a 3.0 GPA being an ok overall goal. Obviously, higher than that would be better. How do others feel about that piece?

Regarding finances, I’m very lucky to have a dedicated significant other who is willing to support the effort! So, I will have some financial help there. The graduate teaching assistant option is a great piece of info too. And if it helps pay tuition, then that’s gravy!

Thanks again.