Making younger friends???

Hi all, Just started medical school and I am finding that for the first time in my life…I am having problems making friends. Everyone is nice and polite, but I truly haven’t really made it past the small talk to find someone who might be a friend in the long run. I went to an orgnanized post-bacc program and I immediately fell in with a group who were similarly situation, but now that I am in medical school I am surrounded and outnumbered by the younger classmates. I wonder if my difficulty fitting in has to do with the fact that I older than them (only 29) and married. There are some married people in my class, but a lot of them are bizarrely young.

Also, I’m separated from my SO right now and feel extremely lonely. IF he was here right now, I am sure I would not mind that lack of potential friends, more than acquaintance. Plus, school has truly started up yet…we are in some sort of introductory period where the REAL classes haven’t started yet. So no real classes = lots of time of my hands to notice that my SO isn’t here and I have no friends.

Did anyone else encounter these problems? And please tell me it gets better…

It will get better. I don’t think social groups really form until classes start and you start working with people. Although several of my friends are older non-trads, I also have several friends who are more traditional students.

It does get better. I have great friends that I met in med school. As you all work together, you will discover others who have similar values and interests as you do, regardless of their age.

I too am feeling that pain all over again, having just moved half way across the country starting in a small program. Just Monday night when I was on call, I wondered what I was thinking leaving my friends and family behind to come to some pleace where I feel all alone, except for my husband. The thought that I made friends in med school and friends in internship is keeping me sane right now.

Thanks for your responses…I feel a bit better. Although it is not a real class, we have been split into small groups and truthfully I don’t really care that much for the other girls in my group. They are kind of aggressive. Plus, because we are in an easy mode right now, many of the younger students use it as an opportunity to go out every night of the week and I am not partaking in that…I imagine that once school gets serious, the partying will be limited to weekends and maybe the divide will not be so great! Either that or they’ll flunk out bc I cannot imagine that level of partying and doing well in school.

Many many people in medical school are morbidly shy or have that set of social skills that you have rightly identified as “aggressive”. These will be overcome with time, I guarantee you, as the younger people gain the confidence to show their more genuine selves.

Do not feel obliged to go out every night! But if I were you and concerned about forming a social circle, I’d make an appearance (couple of hours, no more) once every week or two. I think it’s kind of essential to making the friends we all want out of four long years.

I tried Matt’s approach and it didn’t work for me. Being around people who’s main goal is to drink themselves in oblivion is not my idea of fun. There are others in your class that feel that way too-- you just haven’t met them yet. You’ll meet friends whose Idea of fun is more in line with yours. Just give it time.

I found that through most of this I exist in a bit of a world appart from most of my “commrades”

they were still focused on trying to pair up - and I was doing it with an established SO, home, family… etc – stuff the majority of them were still looking forward to.

Is your SO going to join you at some point? if so that may help a bit. I spent every weekend away from Campus back home - 2 hours away. as a result there was almost no social time to develop a lot of friendships among classmates. We did have a number of older, more established students at UNE when I started - and I did gravitate naturally to these as part of my social set. But again… my main social network continued to be 2 hours away at home.

I sympathize a lot with your being seperated from SO – not an easy place to be…

One thing that can help is joining a couple of student organizations and pitching in on their projects. You’ll get to know people during the day when they are not focused on getting wasted (which is not my thing, either) and find things you have in common other than studying Biochem.

Also take your time deepening the small talk with the people you’re getting to know, now.

I found, oddly, that sitting in the front row was the key to making non-boozing friends. Most of the people who sit near me are fairly serious students and not particularly binge drinkers.


I found, oddly, that sitting in the front row was the key to making non-boozing friends.


This is such an interesting point. In my school, people seemed to pick the place they liked in the lecture hall almost instantly and don’t move very far from class to class.

From front to back:

  1. Aggressive women who announce loudly they have to get Honors in everything. All white.

  2. People who like to talk out and raise their hand. This is where I sit.

  3. Team notetakers-- lots of whispering. (Many Asian kids here.)

  4. The shy studious. (Even more Asian kids here.)

  5. Nosebleed seats: the hungover, the confused, the late and the texting.

Interesting breakdown, Matt.

We had a few gunners in the front row (including one of those people who take two minutes to ask a ten-second question), but also a few of us who need to be in the front to remain more-or-less focused on the lectures. Kind of average students. The gunners sat a row or two behind us.

Samenewme, I like this idea…when real classes start, I will try sitting in the front…it will probably help me stay focused too, which is a definite plus!

Appearances at the social functions might be wise…but I really don’t drink and with the SO my weekends are precious time…so I suppose making younger friends isn’t that important to me. Plus, these people go out EVERY night…that’s not me and I wouldn’t want to represent myself that way.

I just hope that at some point during school I will be able to make friends (even if they are younger) in a class, lab or other social event that does not involve keg stands or clubbing.

In most classes there is a mix of students, including quite a few with families, so there are likely to be a few events (intramural softball comes to mind) that are more family-oriented. My school in particular has a lot of LDS members, since it’s one of the cheaper private schools and Utah is so competitive for med school admissions. I think this skews our demographics a little towards the family side, so we have lots of opportunities to interact with our classmates while sober.

When I was a non-trad pre-med, I didn’t have any problems making friends with traditional age pre-meds. For some reason, it’s been harder for me to relate to and make friends with med students. I only just discovered facebook - it seems like my entire class is on facebook and friends with all of my other classmates. I made a profile for myself yesterday but it feels really lonely seeing that I have 0 friends. I feel like a loner high school student. I wasn’t anticipating this. I’m sure it will get better or cease making a difference, but I do feel akward right now.

Hi orb,

I know what you mean…I was a nontraditional post-bacc and quickly fell into a nice group of friends, but med school feels different. Sure, I have people to talk to and it’s not as if I eat lunch alone. But I just haven’t found anyone I connect with…

Also, the facebook thing depresses…I also knew about facebook, but did not create profile until school start…I don’t have a whole about me profile or even a picture. In facebook, you see all these people who have like 100 friends and me I lucky to be in double-digits! And the biggest problem is that I really don’t have the inclination to get into facebook or going out to bars again…it would feel ridiculous to me.

So I suppose I should accept the fact that I am at a different place in my life than most of my classmates and to a certain extent expect less out of my friendships…otherwise, I feel I might be disappointed and lonely for the next 4 years if I continue to hold on to the hope that I will make these deep long-lasting friendships. It’s just sad.

It’s not sad to want that :).

I feel the same way. I have a myspace account and have about 60 “friends”, most of which are my favorite bands that post their schedules and such.

I have a handful of friends that I communicate with on a weekly basis - most of which I met in college (the early days) and they became those people I’ll always mesh well with, and can pick up where we left off even if it’s been 6 months.

In my opinion, people that need to crowd themselves with hundreds of “friends” either have too much time on their hands or have the need to feel important and set some sort of status symbol by doing so.

I really don’t care what others think even if I am spending time alone. I’ll eat lunch alone, go to the movies alone, etc. without feeling bad at all. In fact, I enjoy my alone-time!

Don’t get too down on yourself, guys

Just to update, I went to a social event last night (fairly benign…it wasn’t drinking at a bar)…anyhow, it was fine, but I really regretted going. It was fine, but I really felt like my time could have been better served by sleeping (still not used to early mornings) or reviewing/previewing. So incrediby dorky, I know.

By the time I got there, people had already grouped off…and I ended up talking to mostly people I already knew. It seems that only the guys really talk to me (which is a first for me) and I just don’t think some of the girls in my school are that nice…the other thing is that I don’t look older (or so I am told) than the other students so I don’t think they are naturally separating because of the age difference.

Anyhow, I’m not complaining…it was a good experience in the sense that it really confirmed for me that I am not missing out…and that the people I will likely have more in common are those who do not attend the events either. It’s funny to see the second years and you see that very few of them attend these events (maybe 20 at most), so it seems that by second year most people calm down and realize that it is not a popularity contest.

For now, I really need to keep my head in my books and prioritize my free time for my hubby and family! I am very blessed…I have a wonderful husband, great family, and some really good friends…they just are not in medical school with me!

Hi! I thought I would resurrect this old thread from 2 years ago as I will very soon be in a similar situation. I am 42 years old and I will be starting medical school in a few months. Unlike most of the non-trads who post here, however, I have no spouse (never been married) or significant other. I also have no children or other immediate family. I’ll be attending medical school in a state I visited for the first time last fall for my medical school interview. I will not know anyone there and the nearest relatives/acquaintences I have will be over 2000 miles away (I rarely see them as it is and I live only 130 miles away). I am old enough to be the father of most of my future classmates so making friends seems like it will be an abject impossibility. I have been looking forward to this day for most of my life, but the euphoria I’ve enjoyed for the past six months is now giving way to panic as reality begins to set in. I will have absolutely no emotional/domestic/social support network and I am fearing medical school will be 4 miserable years of suffocating loneliness. I’ve always been kind of a loner to boot. I know medical school will be stressful enough without this added burden. Are my fears justifiable or am I being unnecessarily gloomy? Is there a way to make the best of this situation?

Remember that you have something in common with your soon-to-be classmates: you are all medical students. And that is a common bond that can transcend the obvious differences.

You mention you’re a loner - perhaps you’re not one to open up readily in many circumstances, although you’ve been honest about your dilemma here. I would suggest that you be yourself but be maybe a little more open than would normally be your style. Let people know a little about you. You’ll find more commonalities with your classmates that way. The conversations while you are working together in anatomy lab or in histology lab, or while waiting for a lecture to start, are nice natural icebreakers for getting to know others, and letting them get to know you.

I did not have the social situation you describe and so I didn’t work hard to become close friends with my classmates - but I certainly could’ve enjoyed getting to know many of them better. I was surprised at how easy it was to talk about all sorts of things with people who - as you observe - could be my kids (in fact one of my classmates had attended middle school with my oldest son).

Really, the shared exhilaration and pain of medical school is a huge plus in getting to know people (misery loves company!). I think you’ll be OK.


I think that it is important for you to take the age factor out of the equation. You and all your classmates are starting this journey at the same time. You may find (I know that I have) you’ll actually feel somewhat younger.

Right now you may be thinking of the age difference, but I bet by Thanksgiving, you’ll be able to seem your classmates as more of your contemporaries…and besides, you most likely will also come across other nontrads, and not all nontrads are married.

Enjoy, you are getting ready to start an exciting adventure!

If your experience is anything like a lot of our experiences, you will start by making acquaintances in a lab group or small group. Some of them you will be come friends with and others you will just say hi to in the hallway. You will find people that you have things in common with socially, value-wise (I hesitate to say politically), etc. One of my best friends in med school was 11 years younger than me, though the majority of my friends tended to be non-trads of various flavors (just a couple years of out college vs career-changers). My younger friend started out as my study partner when I was struggling in physiology (I had helped him in anatomy, which was my stronger area). When we entered clinical years, we were on several rotations together by chance and we partnered up whenever we had the chance because he was uncomfortable in clinical situations (he’s a pathologist) and that was my comfort-zone. Over time, we learned that we shared a lot of core values and that became our bond. We are still friends to this day. As for the party clic, that was never my scene in college or my pre-med school life, so I didn’t hang out with them.

Out of the 150 people in my med school class, it was actually pretty easy to find friends. I was looking back at the original responses and one of them was mine. I still agree with what I said about friends in residency. It was much harder to find friends in a small residency program when you are older. At least for me, my work ethic is much different for the most part, but you have to be careful in making your opinion about their “work-dumping” known. But my opinions about the work-culture that work-hours regulation has created is a separate issue. Most of the people I chat with on a friendly basis are nurses that are my age just because we are at roughly the same stage in life. To the junior faculty my age, I am just a resident, so that leaves me in limbo some.

Right now you have the fear of the unknown, which is completely understandable. I think you will be pleasantly surprised in six months.