Is this possible for me?

Before I even start, please let me apologize in advance in case I ask a silly question. I am just now admitting that this is something I want, and I’m SO overwhelmed by the whole process!

I’m 33, an IT professional with a degree in Elementary/Math/Science Education, and a mommy to three little girls (3yo singleton, and 1yo twins). I got my undergrad in 1999 and I was 1 class shy of a MS in Educational Leadership when I switched to an IT career. I’ve wanted to go into medicine for a while, but I never allowed myself to consider it because I thought I had missed my chance. My husband is the primary wage earner in our family, but my income is pretty important too, so I’m not sure how we’ll pay our bills without it. The bigger one is location. Since my husband is our primary wage earner, we can’t very well move to wherever to pursue my dream, particularly in this economy! I don’t know if we could sell our house, and I REALLY don’t know how to make it work with my husband and his job. I’d like to go the DO route, and I think a Post Bacc program is the way I’m leaning to prepare, but is it possible? How likely is it that I could get into a DO program if I only apply to the ones I can drive to? Would I be able to get a residency without my family having to move? For that matter, is the post-bacc program even the best choice?

As I’m sure you can tell, I’m quite confused and conflicted! I really want to do this, but I don’t know if it’s possible for my situation. ANY advice or insight is appreciated!


Hi Allison! I was 33 when I started this process also, except I was starting from scratch (I only had about 8 CC credits). My strategy from the beginning has just been to take one step at a time. I really didn’t know anything about going to college or anything about the process except what I was able to glean from this site and a few other sources. I decided to enroll full-time and figure it out as I went. I never thought I would get this far since life has a way of getting in the way, but now I will be applying to med school in the spring! So my best advice is to just jump in if this is what you want to do - you and your family will figure out the pieces as you go along. It’s like anything in life - you do what you have to do to make things work out the way you want. Best of luck!

Hi Allison,

You sound a lot like me!

I am 31 and also in the IT field. I received my undergraduate degree in sociology several years ago and then got a Masters degree in Education. After graduation I switched to IT. However, medicine has always been my true passion, but like you, I kept putting it off.

I’m now taking my med school pre-requisites and retaking several courses that I did poorly in as an undergraduate in an attempt to raise my GPA. (I had a 4.0 GPA in graduate school – so I’m hoping that helps once application time rolls around.) I am also wanting to go the D.O. route.

In my opinion, I wouldn’t do a post-bac program. From all the research I’ve done, you’re just as well off having a well-rounded application with plenty of shadowing, volunteering, etc.

In regards to your concern about moving…I feel your pain. However, I think it would be wise to do what you have to do in order to apply to as many schools as possible. I’m planning on applying to 15 of them. I’ll move wherever I have to in order to fulfill this dream. If it’s truly something you want to do, you have to make whatever sacrifices are necessary.

I know I don’t want to waste another 10 years and look back when I’m 40 and realize that I could’ve been a doctor by now.


Thanks for the support and suggestions!

Brad - If it were just me, I would definitely move wherever, but it’s not. I truly believe it would cost me my marriage if I decided to just move across the country without my husband! It would be almost as bad to TELL him that we were moving, like it or not

Allison - I hope I am not speaking out of turn but you might want to talk to your husband and convince him that you are doing this for the family and not just for yourself.

There normally is a gap between concept and reality … you might be surprised once you check it out.

Good luck on whatever you decide.

Hi Allison,

I just read your post!

Although I cannot comment directly on the family situation, I might be able to offer some assistance with your residency question and the need for a postbacc.

First off, what does your GPA look like?

Have you completed any prereqs for med school yet?

Once I know this information, I can tell you if a formal or informal (DIY) postbacc would be the better option.

As for residency, the way it works is that in your 4th year of medical school, you both apply to, and are recruited by, different programs.

If you are going the DO route, this is good because you also have the freedom to apply to MD residencies as well, which opens up many doors for you in terms of your location!

Once you meet with the various programs in an interview, you then rank all of the programs based on what you thought about your experiences with them. The programs you interviewed with will also rank the students they interviewed with.

Then in March of your 4th year of med school, there will be what is called “the Match” where you are matched up with a program that would be a best-fit based on the rankings chosen by both sides. Pretty cool, eh?

Ideally, if location is important to you, you’ll want to apply to residencies in your locale that have programs for your chosen specialty.

I think the more important question is where do you want to attend med school?

Hope this helps!


I was 1/3 of the way to a BS in Chemical Engineering at Georgia Tech when I transferred to an education program in Maryland to be closer to a boy (bad choice - plus we broke up less than a month later!). In that program, I took 1 semester each of Physics + lab, Biology + lab, Chemistry + lab (no Organic Chem though). I also took Calculus 1 and 2. I got a B in almost all of these classes, but it was in 1995/1996.

After I transferred, I didn’t take any more “real” science other than a Geology class. I took my methods classes (how to teach science and math), and I took Statistics, along with my English classes and electives. My major here was 3.5, and I graduated in 1999.

My graduate classes (all 27 credits) were all Math Education and Education theory. I got a 3.85 here with classes in 2000 and 2001.

I know that I need to take my science classes again because I’d be SHOCKED if I remember any of it! I taught middle school, so I didn’t really have a chance to remind myself of the concepts after I took the classes. Plus, I’ve worked in IT for 8 years now, so even the middle school stuff is a bit rusty.

Thank you SOOO much for your advice and all the explanations. I’m already starting to appreciate the wisdom and generosity of the people on this forum!

Hi Allison,

Your GPA sounds solid. The best bet would probably be to do an informal postbacc (take classes on your own without enrolling in a formal program) consisting of the premedical courses of 1 year of calc, 1 year of physics, 1 year of gen chem, 1 year of ochem, 1 year of bio and 1 year of English. Some DO schools also like their applicants to take a few behavioral science classes.

Since it’s been a while since your last science courses, your best bet would be to retake them as this would really help for the MCAT.

For DO schools, their average GPA range is 3.3-3.5 and their MCAT range is around 27.

DO schools also allow grade forgiveness, so if you have any spotty grades (which it doesn’t sound like you do), you can retake these and they will only look at the most recent grade!

Although DO schools are still quite competitive, they have a reputation for treating their applicants fairly and with a very open mind when it comes to the selection process. It is this attitude and philosophy that made me choose DO over MD.

Also, you mentioned that you’re one class away from a Masters degree. It couldn’t hurt to take that class!

Hope this helps

Do you think I should retake the Calculus, English and Behavioral Sciences? (I have 9 credits of Psych and 6 credits of Sociology.) For that matter, would I even be permitted to do that by the University?

I wouldn’t worry about the Behavioral Sciences at all since you don’t need them for the MCAT. They are more of a “like to see” on the DO application and in some cases a requirement. The schools that do require a few classes are few and far between.

As far as retaking the classes, the general rule of thumb is that if you haven’t seen the material in 5 years or more, a retake would be a good option.

As for the MCAT, you will be tested on the Physical Sciences which can sometimes involve basic calculus-based problems although the concensus is that knowing Algebra is more important.

In the practice MCATs I’ve done, there was no Calculus, however there is pleanty of Algebra.

I took my Calc classes in 2002 and will only be retaking the second semester because I got a C and it looks bad I won’t be taking it out of necessity.

Regarding University: Most Uni’s have an open campus where you are able to enroll in courses without being formally admitted into the school. Typically this is a great approach for upper division work because there are more available seats. It can be quite tough to get into the lower division courses (the courses required for the MCAT) typically because EVERYONE needs them and seats rarely become available. As a student not formally admitted to the University, you will always get last priority for your classes and be admitted on a space only basis

As for retaking English: This definitely couldn’t hurt (unless you did poorly), but assuming you do well it can really help with the Verbal and essay portion of the MCAT. These sections are not easy, and more medical schools are starting to emphasize good essay scores. Retaking English or perhaps taking a few writing classes will definitely help with the MCAT.

Med schools want well-rounded applicants. So, courses in English (in addition to prereqs), writing, creative writing, etc. demonstrate a candidate who has an adaptive learning style and isn’t just a science head. This isn’t a necessity, but rather food for thought.