just me here, and help always welcome

Hi. I’m 49 and retired these past ten years since trying to get into med school. I had 6 interviews and spent alot of dough before up ending broke and discouraged. Down right depressed. Gave up being altruistic for the most part, too, after getting screwed by the system. I became an infirm healer.

Their/our medical system is excessively profit based. If Doc.s made peanuts for pay, money grubber applicants would flee to other gold mines. There would be tons of room in med schools for the compassionate applicants like me.

As a volunteer doctor, I wanted to give away all services at an inner city free clinic, just as I did as an MFT. How many lives could I have been saving today? But it didn’t pan out for me.

So I decided raising my kids full time would be a better goal. Now, as they start graduating high school, I’m wondering if I have time to pursue my personal goals. I’m strong/centered enough to go back to work (for free). Maybe becoming a doctor isn’t impossible.

I looked good enough on paper, way-back-when. My community service was already done, very extensive, and not motivated by self interest -as in someone anticipating a bid for med school. It looked decent. MCAT was done as a half-a*sed lark & bought me a 31 score. I had never had a biology class and got a 10. I had no prerequisite science courses except general chem from twenty years earlier. Essentially no prerequesites at all.

Then I rushed through the application processes without forethought. I applied on the deadlines (last minute) with Express mailings. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Still, totally non-traditional and unprepared, they took notice and I was on many waiting lists for a slot.

Interviews were unprepared for and I was pretty low key too. I was just me (and chatting was my expertise). Practically every interviewer was rude or deceptive and the interviews were superficial. One even came right out and said it was wrong to admit someone old because I would have less time left alive to contribute to society. What a curve ball! Another said “Don’t quit the day job. We have the best people with straight A’s applying here.” [At least they felt safe being rude and honest with me] I thought interviews were to weed out misfits and still think so. Maybe being compassion driven, instead of profit driven, was both a plus and a minus. Was I the token misfit they had to interview?

Now I think I would do everything different. I think science prerequisites exist only to help you transition into full-speed med classes. I am going to take them since I’m a bit older and slower upstairs. I need all the help I can get. And some interviewers look for them. I had no mentor or guidance before. This website looks real helpful and my heart felt thanks to whom ever has started and helped it pop up before me. It might make a big difference. And any mentors up for grabs out there? How about you?

Well… okay, as an exhausted intern I can’t volunteer for personal mentor duties but I am happy to give you some feedback. The impression you leave with me is that your altruistic bent is genuine, and you see medicine as a way to really make a difference - good for you.
But you seem to have a bit of a chip on your shoulder about that very altruistic tendency. Why do you need to stress the money part? Why do you need to put other people down? From this side of the fence I have to tell you that my medical school and resident colleagues generally have at least SOME interest in medicine for its own sake and for the sake of helping people – I will absolutely concede that some folks are choosing specialties based on the money they can make but I am not sure I’ve met a single person whose MAIN motivation for this career is money. So if you write an essay or go into an interview with the attitude that’s sort of leaking through here, you would frankly get my back up if I were your interviewer. Please spend a little time thinking about why you feel hostile toward the people who would be your colleagues, and whether that’s something you can get beyond. It’s not doing you any good.
It also doesn’t do any good to portray your first adventure in applicationland as being ‘screwed by the system.’ You say yourself that you did a lot of things wrong with those applications and I’d certainly agree with you. Take responsibility for not having your act together sufficiently and move on, okay?
The notion of practicing medicine for free bothers me on two levels. First, there’s that put-down again: are you telling me that I’m not as altruistic as you because I frankly hope to earn some MONEY once I am out of residency? Good grief, I have $150,000 in loans to pay off – I have no apologies for hoping to earn money. Secondly, you sound really unrealistic to the point of having your head in the clouds. You’re my age and I kind of expect us middle-aged folks to be a little more practical. Maybe you’ve got a plan for corporate sponsorship or something - great, more power to you. But if you come off like Robin Hood I don’t think you’ll make a good impression. The system as it stands now is absolutely in need of change, but if I’m interviewing you I want to hear practical ideas about what you’d like to see, not a rant against the system.
Obviously you’re extremely intelligent or you couldn’t have done that amazing job on the MCAT without the prereqs or much preparation. Now you’re recognizing that you need to carefully script this game plan - good. Of course you have to take the prerequisites and obviously you’ll be taking the MCAT again. Although it will take you longer, I would strongly advise that you have the prereqs DONE at the time you submit your application.
You may ask: Why? I’ve shown I can do more than adequately on the MCAT even without the prereqs. I concede your point. However, at your age - at OUR age - you need to package the absolute best, most impressive application you can, and one with a bunch of pending grades is NOT the strongest application. It just prompts a lot of questions on the AdCom’s part. I would even go so far as to say that it could draw attention to your age in a weird sort of way - as in, “hey everybody! I know the clock is ticking for me and I’m getting older by the minute, so I’m sending in my application even though I still have to take all my orgo and physics!” I would rather see you quietly and calmly submit an absolute kick-ass complete portfolio of grades, MCAT scores, and glowing LORs – the kind of application where the person reading it has to go back a couple of times and check the year you were born because they’re sure it must be a mistake.
Those are just my first-impression thoughts and I offer them FWIW. I’m (in)famous for long-winded responses here and often don’t know if any wisdom is buried amongst all the words, but I hope there’s something useful for you.


I read through your post and it was a little painful. I’m 41 and in med school. I was not going to be accepted in the states due to not having all the undergrad done and when I went to nursing school back in the 80’s I, well did not do as well as I’d like to so I’m in England at St. Christopher’s.

It’s really not a short cut I still have to finish my undergad with Basic sciences but I love it so far. As far as money, Well I’m an RN and could make money, good money so for me this is not about money. It’s about what I want to do! Yes I want to be some hick town MD taking care of people there!

I will make the least as a rural MD and I will have 150 to 200,000 in loans at 45+ years old! I think many OPMer’s don’t do it for money. Read our posts. It’s about a burning desire to be MDs and make some kind of difference. I will make a hugh difference in the community I will serve. Any way good luck and welcome! There are many roads to success.

I think once you have a negative experience, you do become a little bit jaded. I’m not sure when your interviewing experiences are, but if they weren’t entirely recent then that might explain the lack of receptiveness towards non-trads… I think that’s come around a bit over the last few years… I’m not saying that it doesn’t stille exist - even I saw a little bit of it in my interviews this year… but I do think that it’s better… Also, I think it makes a difference what type of schools you apply to… for me, osteopathic medical schools seem to be much more accomodating regarding age and life experience than allopathic… but this is my experience…
I applaud your motivation for wanting to go into medicine. I have come across a lot of people who are going into it “only for the money”… but I don’t know that this is a majority… although when you run across one of them, they tend to overshadow the rest… and that’s really sad… I don’t think you were implying that everyone that goes into medicine is this way… I think that a lot of people, as Mary said, do go into it with altruistic intentions… but if I might add that it’s hard to do your job, if you can’t eat and don’t have anywhere to sleep… the people that are going into it only for the money usually find out that it’s not all that they had in mind… there’s loans to pay back and practice costs, insurance etc…these tend to be the people that I have come across that are either getting out of medicine or hate their jobs.
I would recommend taking the pre-req classes simply for the experience of studying again, review, and being around other classmates… it’s more likely to prepare you at least somewhat for what you’re about to do in med school… I don’t think that they offer any preparation for the MCAT, should you need to take it again due to time lapse…
The best piece of advice that I can offer you is this… if it’s your dream…take a deep breath, come up with a plan, and jump right in… don’t let past experiences in this case affect your future… if this is what you want (for whatever reason) then go for it…
good luck and keep us posted.