is this a crazy plan?

I’ve been a lurker here for a little while.

To give a very brief summary of my backround. I am a 33 year old single-mom of a teenage daughter. I was premed a long time ago…starting out as a Chemistry major and doing pretty well in school (starting college at age 15)…but then becoming a teen mom at age 18 and subsequently just squeaking by in school with some very bad grades.

I ended up changing my major to psychology just so I could hurry up and graduate and I applied to medical school back in 1997 and got 2 interviews and 0 acceptances.

For the past 10-11 years, I haven’t done anything to advance my dream of becoming a physician, but I never really gave up on that dream either. I was always too afraid to move forward or too overwhelmed being a single mom with no support and tight finances.

This semester I’ve gone back to school to retake all of my premed classes and take this thing baby step by baby step.

Anyway, I made the mistake of telling my parents that I was back in school this semester and they commented negatively on how long it would take me and commnented negatively on the fact that I chose to take my first few classes back at my local community college.

I am confident I can do very well on the MCAT because I did well the first time, so that doesn’t worry me.

I am concerned that Admissions committes might be concerned by my only taking one class/one lab per semester. I might consider taking 2 classes/2 labs per semester based on how well I am able to juggle this first one and full time work and full time moming.

Anyway, I decided on taking these first few classes at a community college because I could not afford to pay state university tuition out of pocket.

Of course my parent’s comments made me feel bad and like a loser. I especially feel bad sometimes because my older sister and brother are both very accomplished, a lawyer and a PhD in mathematics from an Ivy league U.

My plan is to retake all of the premed science classes and retake the MCAT of course. And take a few advanced level science courses.

I am planning to take about a year worth of classes at this CC and then take the rest of my classes at a pretty prestigious state Tech University. I have already talked to some admissions people about taking classes at a CC and was told that it was okay to do so. In fact, one admissions person advised me to do so as a way to ease myself back into school after so many years.

The biggest concern for me is that I have mapped out this plan and have planned for it to make me about 4.5 years to enter medical school.

My parents thought that it was ridiculous how long it would take me.

But I have to work full-time and I also do not think it would be a good idea to try and start Medical School before my teenage daughter has graduated from high school.

So my plan is to start medical school the same year she starts college (4.5 years from now).

So I guess my question is, is my plan unrealistic? Is it ridiculous to draw out the premed process for so long?

I would love to be in medical school yesterday…but I feel like this is the only realistic way for me to get there…ie to take my time and do this right this time.

But now I feel kind of stupid for planning to take this so slowly and I will be 37 by the time I get to medical school.

What do you all think…is this a realistic plan?

Omega Three - first of all, welcome to the non-anonymous state!

Although I am pretty much at the same stage as you, maybe I can offer a little bit of encouragement. You are 33 - still young from my vantage point in life at 48. You need to take the time to take the time it takes (get it?) Many posts in here talk about this journey as a marathon, not a sprint. The adcom director of my state med school told me that at my age I will only make one more pass at this, so make sure I do everything right and don’t rush it. That goes for speed, course selection and grades.

The advice received from the adcom people that starting out at a cc is fine should make you feel better about that choice. I would also check with other schools that you may want to pursue.

You have to make this transition work for you and your daughter. So if all you can do to start is one class with lab, then that is what you should do and focus on! I too can only take one class to start, and maybe for the next 2 semesters. At most I am in the same boat as you - working a full time job will only allow for up to 2 classes per semester. Ideally I would have a closer to full time course load the year before applying, but that may not happen, depending on the financial situation.

I have multiple plans plotted - the shortest being 2.5 years to med school, and the longest being 5.5. There are different trigger points that will possibly cause speedups and slow downs. I plan to stay loose and make the best possible choices every step of the way.

One last thing I will mention - I was concerned about my energy level as I started back to school. So far my energy is through the roof - I am excited to be back to school, and it makes me feel young(er) to be learning what I love to learn about. I even find that I have more energy at work, and also I am more efficient with my time.

So plot your course, focus, and have fun with the journey!

Good luck and keep us posted.


Omega Three,

Your plan in no way seems crazy to me. I would strongly encourage you to move forward. My only concern with your plan would be the CC component, it would be unfortunate to work so hard and not get credit for course work because you took it at a CC.

As to time I just started back on my path to medical school this past fall at 38, if my plan works I will graduate from medical school at 45.

I admire your drive to move forward as a single mother, I am fortunate to have the support of my wife and 2 teenage children in my efforts, it can be challenging when you are working full time and taking classes. Hopefully you have your daughters support, in many ways that is probably more important than the support of your parents.

Good luck, you can do this, keep your end goal in mind and you will be there before you know it.

Thanks for the advice and kind words of support 3rdtimer and medic. They mean a lot to me.

I too am concerned about the CC aspect of things. I don’t want to waste any more time and I would feel awful if I am unable to get into medical school because I took the basic sciences at a CC.

I just cannot figure out any other way to be able to go to school at this point. The tuition at my 2 local state universities (Ga Tech, GSU) is about 3 times what it is at my the CC that I am at now (georgia perimeter college).

My tentative plan is to take the basic sciences at GPC and then take 1 year of biochemistry and 1 semester of microbiology at Georgia Tech to show that I can do well in University science classes.

In my old academic record, I didn’t do consistently well and I have some very bad grades, but I also received As in 1st year chemistry and Organic chemistry the first time around and Bs in Biology (only because I didn’t apply myself) and a C and B in Physics.

Those aren’t great grades, but maybe they would go to show that I can handle university level science work as well. I don’t know.

I will go ahead and call some more med school admissions people to find out what the consensus is at the schools that I am interested in.

Thanks again for replying.

p.s. Yes, 3rdtimer I am so excited about being back in school that my energy level is through the roof. I know exactly how you feel. It’s such an amazing thing to follow your dreams, isn’t it?

Welcome to OPM, Omega Three.

Just to chime in on the CC stuff, I think it’s good that you’re looking to supplement those courses with university coursework. The general rule around here is to take your courses (especially pre-reqs) at the most rigorous institution you can, and to take them at a University if it’s at all feasable.

It sounds like, in your case, it’s just not feasable. It’s not like you’re dodging the university because you’re afraid of it; real life concerns just preclude that route for you. If that’s what you can do, then that’s what you’ll have to do.

I don’t think that CC courses will be the kiss of death for your application; it will just mean that, based on those courses, AdComs will not be as confident in your scholastic ability as you’d like. Your history of solid science in the past will help that, to some extent. I suspect that it will make your University courses - Biochem and Microbio, at least - will be all the more important, as will your MCAT score.

So the wind up is… the CC is non-optimal, but then, most of us have a non optimal path at this point, one way or another. If that’s all you can do, then do it with all your heart, and don’t worry about anything else.

My first year back has been at a CC, and I’m loving it. Thoroughly pleased with the course content/quality of teaching/etc. Spoke with Dean of Admissions of med school in town this week, and she said my CC courses were fine (Maths, A&P, Chem I and II). From what I have heard, I think that some AdComs are more accepting of CC credits than others. (My sister balked when I said I was going to the CC, as in “WE don’t do that.” But I’m doing what I can, and it has been fine.)

I think your plan sounds quite reasonable. I did a number of classes at CC and did not find it to be a problem. As to drawing it out, well, you do what you need to. starting at 37 you will still be ahead of me starting at 45. One bit of incentive to do it quicker if there is any way you can: Typical Family Practice Physician salaries are starting at 140-150K now, and specialities go up from there. Every year longer you take is one less year of earnings.

I am sure getting your daughter through college is also a concern. However, I was surprised to discover that my own being in med-school helped my kids qualify for excellent financial aid.

Try not to worry too much about your parent’s negative atitude. Yes it is a long process, but most things worth doing require patience and persistance. And you will get your vengence in a few years when they start asking you for medical advice.

Steve (52 y/o 3rd year FP resident)

Thanks for the encouragement Overthemoon.

Hi Steve,

Thank you for sharing your personal experience. It makes me feel good to know that someone else has walked this path and succeeded.

You make a very good point regarding financial aid and my daughter if I am full time in school at that time.

I have been thinking about the possibility of applying to medical school earlier (after 2 years instead of after 3.5 years), which is definitely a possibility. I will forge ahead and see where I am by summer 2009. If I have finished all of the premed prerequisites by then and am able to take the MCAT by late spring/early summer, then I would possibly be ready to apply late that summer.

One big concern is that I would limit myself to Georgia schools if I were to try to go to medical schools before my daughter is ready to graduate from high school because I wouldn’t want to move with her being a junior or senior in high school.

Well I am not sure what will happen or if I will be ready to apply so early anyway, I will just forge ahead, take this step by step, and do my best.

For now I am really excited to finally be on the yellow brick road again.

And thank you so much for the encouraging words Pi/Adam.