Is 47 too old to start the process?

I have an engineering background (master’s), but have been interested in doing something more satisfying. However, a fear of the unknown, and not knowing how to even start is keeping me from doing anything. Lot of questions on courses to take, where to take, etc is overwhelming.

what age is too old is a question yet to be determined. It depends on your energy and goals as much as anything. Is you goal to be a physician? If so you have a minimum of 7 years ahead of you from the time you start medical school. Add to that however much time you need to get to school. (likely a couple of years at least) And remember, your goal is not to get through training, but to practice as a Physician.

So consider your own health and age you wish to retire. Of course there are multiple other options to consider besides the full boat physician - The field of medical services is wide open. Most careers do not involve so much training. Consider for example Nursing, and Physicians Assistant programs. What sort of engineering do you do? would a field such as Medical imaging technology build on your current knowledge?

I started the whole process at 43 and enterd Medical school at 45 - so I am no position to say ANYONE is too old.

I am much more concerned if your fear of the unknown is really paralyzing. As a physican I face the unknown every time I walk into an exam room - 15 to 20 times a day. It was nearly paralyzing at first but it has gotten easier over the time I have spent. Partly because of increased confidence and partly I have simply gotten used to being afraid much of the time.

where to begin? I started by taking Anatomy and Physiology at the local Communuty college. It was not a pre-req for anything but I could do it without quitting my job and it got me into the academic mode again. Then use those engineering skills to start researching the various options open to you in an organized way, and learn what training is required for each. Med- school web sites will list their requirements - as will schools for various other medical professions.

I have soapboxed enough - except for this:

I laud your interest in going forth and changing a career that no longer satisfies… but as any great adventure it is not for the faint of heart

good luck!

  • tooold Said:
I have an engineering background (master's), but have been interested in doing something more satisfying. However, a fear of the unknown, and not knowing how to even start is keeping me from doing anything. Lot of questions on courses to take, where to take, etc is overwhelming.

I am in a similar situation. I am also 47 years old and have an MBA degree, but I have been wanting to be a family practice physician for a long time. I am finishing up my prerequisites and have second semester physics and second semester organic chemistry to complete. The two courses I have taken, Calculus and Biology 1, are over ten years old. My questions are: Is there a time limit for prerequisites taken and what are the issues someone in my age group would need to address when applying for medical schools? If anyone could provide some insight, I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

Haven’t posted here much, but when I see folks asking the “Is Medical School even possible for those in their late 40’s?,” I like to help if I can.

Like 1st responder, I started the process around 43yoa. My original degree wasn’t bio, chem or even med-related, and it was so long ago that I had to take ALL the prereqs from scratch.

As I recall, any science course over 15 years in the past is only good as “elective” credit. On the + side, if you have bad grades from over 10 years back, you can have them “not considered” under some academic Fresh Start programs, but that likely to be an all-or-nothing thing.

I made it a point to 4.0 EVERYthing 2nd time around, and took a prep course to MAXimize my MCAT score. Did all the volunteer work and went on several medical missions. Got rec letters from people who understood how Important this was to me (and who were convinced had seen me dodging bullets while running across non-frozen water).

Anyways, I made it in on 1st try to a bona fide allopathic CONUS medical school at 46 and now pursuing my clinical clerkships at 49.

I think if you work hard enough and if it truly is your dream, you will get in somewhere.

HOWEVER. Be careful what you wish for.

Consider this: approaching 50, can you really get by on 4-5 hours sleep a night for weeks on end, and maintain your grades, or work on-call ocassionally up for 30 hours with little naps, etc?

Perhaps you can, but it really what you want your life to be like for the next 7+ years? Can you put your family through this as well?

Most medical students are single w/o kids, so for them, it is not a factor. If it is for you, you will wake up every AM, and see who’s lives your dream is directly impacting.

It comes down to a mental and physical stamina thing, and you MUST to keep your health and spirits Up for the long haul.

In short, I am saying 47 is Not too old, BUT you must really want this bad and keep yourself relatively “young” for your age.

Thank you for all your comments and insight. They have been of a great help.

There is one other suggestion that I often give non-trads, whether 27 or 47. You are considering spending 10 years or more at hard labor and significant money in terms of debt, loss of revenue, savings for retirement, etc. with post-bacc, med school, and residency. Going to post-bacc, part time, at say a less expensive state school, is small investment in terms of time, money, and effort towards the overall goal. My view is that it cost almost nothing to do post-bacc work and try and get into medical school. Doing so allows you to:

  1. Show the medical schools you can get the grades

  2. Show yourself you want medical school; if you want to work that hard. You’ll get some idea if after working all day, and then taking OChem II and Molecular Biology, while life goes on around you is something that you want.

  3. In a sense, allows you to simply concentrate on getting the acceptance letter. Because until then, in many ways, this is a hypothetical exercise. You don’t have to make a decision until you have that acceptance letter in your hand.

    It is sort of a testing or developing a new system. You learn how to be a student again, you figure out patterns and process of how family and life can fit in. You see if it works with your life. You may find it is not the life you want for the cost of just a little time and a little money. Better now than 2 years into medical school. But if you handle 2 or 3 years part time in post-bacc and you and your family are still eager and supportive, then you a good idea of what you really want and are willing to do to get it.