Mid 40's, successful, am I crazy? very confused.

Ok, let me get right to the point. I’m 45 years old, and an extremely successful attorney, making over 450K a year, which is a lot more than I’d make upon finishing med school. Regardless, I have wanted to be a doctor all of my life and am simply miserable in my present profession. So, I signed up for some Chemistry Classes at a community college.

Question: I have a plan to complete my science requirements in 2 years, take the MCAT, etc, and would like to start med school by 47. 1) do you think I’m crazy? 2)is it a problem that I take the science classes at a community college? Should I take them at a University or will that not matter? Thanks for the input and I’m glad I found this site.

You aren’t crazy! If you are crazy that means all of us here are!

As far as the community college I was told that those classes would be frowned upon. I was told by a professor/friend @ KU med since the rest of my pre-reqs are so old that I would absolutely need to prove myself with the science courses and i couldn’t prove myself with Community College courses. Even though I hold a Master of Science degree! Even though I already took Chem I and II and aced them. They are over 15 years old and I should retake them and ace them again! One because there is no way I would still be prepared enough for med school with 15 yr old info but also they are looking at young energetic 20 somethings with all A’s, why should they choose me? I hope to show them why!

Some people may disagree but is makes sense to me.

Goodluck! Hope this helps.

DOn’t worry, alot of us have similar stories to yours, and maybe we are all crazy! I am/was a Director of a Biotech company - miserable as can be - resigned two weeks ago - took me 7 years to finally quit. Started classes mid August…crazy.

The local Med School here (in Florida) told me not to take classes at a CC becuase they would not look competitive, and I would not have a strong application( CC was not happy to hear to hear this news) -so I am enrolled at the Univ. as a post. bac student for atleast two semesters.

You will need the chem/physics and orgo chem to do well on the MCAT, so worst case, just look at it as a really expensive MCAT review!

Best of luck to you, and welcome to the group!

Rather than rush to get in, I would spend some more time with doctors making VERY SURE that their lives on the inside are what you dream of from the outside. It is easy to say that “My current job sucks, I would much rather be doing X,” when you are not doing X. The reality of actually doing X is likely to be much less rewarding than it seems when it’s just a dream.

I love what I do and I can’t imagine doing anything else. But I will tell you that it is far harder and yes, substantially less rewarding than I had hoped. I am making a little more than 1/4 of what you are making, and that’s OK because I work so hard that I wouldn’t have time to enjoy more money if I had it.

Quite honestly, I would start by setting aside the time you would spend in a class each week, and shadowing a doctor, preferably a primary care provider. Although probably every specialty can give you examples of how thankless their jobs are, it’s the PCPs who can demonstrate how the current financial structure has them working at a breakneck pace that is unsatisfying, irritating for them and their patients, and even potentially dangerous at times.

There is a reason why so many doctors would answer “No!” to the question, “Would you do it again?” I would actually advise you to seek out the unhappiest, most dissatisfied doctors you can, and pick their brains a bit. That’s not advice I would normally give but I think you need to have your eyes wi-i-i-ide open.

Good luck!


Dear Mary, thanks for your post. I am a PharmD working on getting to med school. Most specialists are encouraging me to become a doc, while most PCPs are telling me to stay away, mainly for reasons you stated. For many reasons, I plan to specialize when I graduate. Is there a reason as to why you recommend shadowing a PCP? Thanks.

Several reasons. One big one is that people go to their PCPs for all sorts of stuff - I think you’d get a better cross-section of the health care consumer in a PCP’s office. Even though I felt well-prepared for my choice of family medicine, I am constantly amazed at the expectations of consumers. Sometimes I think they are right to expect what they do; other times their entitlement and attitude are simply eye-popping. There’s an aspect of self-selection that accompanies people who go to a specialist, and so I don’t know if you see quite as much of that, although you definitely will see some.

[my favorite story is from an orthopaedic surgeon. He had just started talking to a new patient when the patient’s cell phone rang. Patient: “Oh, hey, sorry, but do you mind if I take that?” and without waiting for an answer, he answered his phone. Orthopaedist: “No, not at all,” and he walked out and didn’t return for 45 minutes.]

I just think that time with a PCP will more effectively demonstrate the many ways in which our health care system sucks the life out of doctors and other providers. You’ll see the same stuff in a specialist’s office - the pre-authorizations for CT scans or prescription medications, the drug-seekers, the entitled folks who insist on an MRI for their knee sprain - but you will get a better concentration of those observations in a morning spent with a PCP.

Again, I love what I do. I get tremendous satisfaction out of it. But too damn much of this job just annoys the living $hit out of me. Anyone considering medicine needs to see that, and understand that you will NOT be “the doctor who is different,” but that you will have to figure out a way to make your peace with the adversarial nature of health care today, and feel good about what you do simply because you know you are doing a good job.

Sorry, this turned into a bit of a rant but I’m going to leave it the way it is, good luck!


I agree with Mary on the need to see what you are getting into. though maybe a little less pessimistically… -

Te fatigue and endless charts do seem to weigh on one… But I got a thank you from a lady I helped get a scooter for. After she made cookies for the first time in months. a moment like that makes up a lot of sins.

But then… you don’t have to go into medicine to find magic moments like that. I have a friend who is a small town lawyer who relates similar stories frequently – and always with a twinkle in his eye. He is the legal equvalent of a primary care physician.

should you go into medicine? I can’t answer that. A bit of observation into our daily lives may give you some insite - It might be good in fact to see more than one of us.

But consider also… at least the possibility … that the answer may lie not in another profession, but in how you practice what you do.

Again… not intending to answer really… only open the thought box a little.

2 things you have going for you:

  1. the knowledge of social structures inherent to the legal profession is essential to the practice of medicine as well, esp primary care.

  2. assuming you did not squander that 450K salary, you are probably in a better fiancial position to take on this challenge then many of us.

    On the other hand there is the philosophy that one

    “should gamble for more than you can afford-- that way you will learn the game”

Regarding community colleges…try to avoid your pre-reqs at cc’s if at all possible. Schools give less credence to your work there, and some schools flat out won’t accept cc coursework for pre-reqs. Go to the most rigorous four-year institution that time and money will allow. And try to ace everything.



Two things:

  1. No, you aren’t crazy. If you want to be a doctor, then start the path towards becoming one; of course, there is no guarantee you will get there and you may change your mind, but perhaps starting slow is the way to go.

  2. Don’t worry about your age. Yes, medical schools do care about their applicants’ ages, but it is much less today than in the past. One thing is rarely discussed about the age thing is “Why?” We live in a society that continually talks and glorifies youth, especially in the media (references to “young doctors”). Ask yourself this: if someone wante to go to law school at your age, would you think it unusual or odd? I would wager that most of us wouldn’t be surprised that an older applicant could go to law school, but for some strange reason our society considers it unusual for an older person to consider medical school? Our social prejudices are showing.

  3. As far as community college. While I agree with Judy Colwell that getting your premed requirements done at a 4-year school (the best you can afford in terms of both time and distance/displacement from your family, etc.), getting into medical school with pre-reqs from a CC is not unheard of.

I know I responded in another thread in a similar vein on the CC thing.

  1. It may indeed depend on the region. Many CCs in my area have post-masters and progressing through to PhDs as well as PhDs teaching at the CC’s. In my area, there is a lot of pressure put on the professor/instructors to be in post-grad. level courses and to be published.

  2. You may not get the professor at a university teaching you all the time, especially if he/she is heavily involved in research and publication; thus an assistant may teach the class–and the class sizes are usually much bigger.

  3. Mostly I’d say you can hedge your bet to save some money–essentially Gen Bio1/2 and Gen Chem. 1 and 2 are pretty much the same, so long as there is substantial lab work involved. If you then take O. Chem. I & II and Physics I & II at a university, that may balance it out. Seems like a lot of folks take Gen Bio I and Chem. I at a good CC, and then take Bio II, Chem II, and the other pre-req sciences at a university.

  4. It seems to me that there is a reason why they developed the MCAT. Even one university to another may take exception to the caliber of said science courses. So a 3.8 GPA at one university might translate (not necessarily with full objectivity) to a 3.5 at another. The general idea as far as the MCAT is concerned, at least according to the information I was given, is that the MCAT is another standardized, prognostic indicator for med school applicants. It helps to illuminate how one can reason out and apply the sciences learned, regardless of where one learned them. That said, I do agree with others that taking most of the pre-req sciences at a reputable university or four-year college—particularly one with a strong sciences department–is probably the best way to go. I say this b/c to me it’s not just about getting into med school; it’s also about having a strong enough foundation for the med school’s forthcoming sciences.

  5.  But to be fair, as I said in another thread, the CCs are teeming with students from universities--specificall y b/c of the economy.  Things are tighter for folks. I think around here they are reporting record high numbers, and many are attributing it to the economy.   People are tightening their belts.  It's sort of the same reason why the wedding/honeymoon industry, which I believe is a multiple billion dollar industry in this country, is taking quite a hit.  People are knocking 10's of thousands off of their wedding/honeymoon costs.    So for education, well, for a number of folks (at least I'd hope) education is more important than throwing a huge shindig of a wedding/honeymoon. So, if they are seeing the need to take more courses at community colleges that has to tell us something. People are looking to conserve anyway possible--and even then they know they are getting in over their heads at times for their education--or their children's education.<br /><br />

Of course if you took some of those core sciences courses at a community college and then didn’t do so hot on the MCAT, well, at the least, it could drag things out further for you—at the most, you could be at a serious disadvantage in the long run. I mean you might have to question the caliber of the courses you took at the CC, or it may be that you’d have to evaluate your ability to thoroughly learn those sciences and then apply them in terms of the questions. The questions are supposed to be looking for reasoning ability at least as much as core knowledge content.

I think it could be hard to judge the rigorous nature of a course unless you sat through it—knew the professor, etc. And I think this is particularly true with the first level sciences. Courses, however, like physics and o. chem might certainly be more challenging where there are academic programs for four-year plus majors in those hard sciences. OTOH, if the CC course in Inorganic Chem and Bio weren’t that strong, and then you go to the university to take the rest of the science pre-reqs, you might find yourself struggling in say the o chem…or biochemistry, should you take it.

The other thing is the post-bacc pre-med programs don’t want their applicants to take usually more than a course or two (pre-req-pre-med) anywhere else other than their program. They feel they are investing in preparing the student for med school admission–but also, they have to gain some kind of profit. I do think mostly it is b/c they are working in the program on your behalf to help you gain entrance to med school—that but also it really is the program’s reputation on the line—especially as they work on getting things like early admission agreements, etc, in place. As such, they want to have a clear understanding of what the students generally know and how that can then be qualified and quantified.

I don’t necessarily think it will blow it for folks if they go to a reputable community college with strong professors—where their students have been accepted into a lot of good four-year plus schools–where indeed other universities accept (will accept as transferable) the base science courses. It can be tough at times, b/c sometimes people that aren’t in PBPM programs have to catch the courses at the universities as they can. Courses can fill up or be cancelled or somehow are not working for a particular student that term/semester. Because of scheduling and other issues, sometimes they have to take a course or two at a community college. But I also think that some community colleges have a much better reputation than others. You’ll only know that by doing your research or having interacted around various schools.

I do also think that if you are a non-traditional student, you might also be looked at as working from some degree of a disadvantage, compared with say younger, more traditional students. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if advisors tried to move the non-trad students to universities for science pre-reqs in order to help mitigate whatever disadvantaged position that the non-trad student may be coming from in the first place. It’s like; hey the odds are tough in terms of getting into med school–less or more depending on applicant/enrollment factors. If you are non-trad, you might be looked at with less than ideal prospects.

Regarding the previous poster’s comment. . .

Yes, we do live in a culture that glorifies youth. It’s sad and troubling. Personally I can’t find anything more favorable about being 20 than say perhaps a person’s greater ability to reproduce. While that can be important, most of us aren’t living to procreate into having multiple digit dependents. And as humans, aren’t we valued for things beyond procreation as well? There truly is a lot of living beyond that–though I would be the last to knock the values and goodness of having and raising a family. But unless you are planning on doing it until your equipment falls out, the process of having and raising children goes by quickly–sometimes it feels like a shooting star–a blaze and then gone–it moves on. When you’re in your early 20’s and if you were a parent as I was (while also being in college), parenting seems like it will be all the rest of your life. And it does become your life in many ways; but children have this strange way of growing up and moving progressively away at quick and steady pace. Basically children gear up and move on—even whilst still living at home as teens. They love you and at least at times seem quite grateful; but it’s quite natural for them to want to move beyond the nest. So from day one the parents’ job is to help move the child closer and closer to autonomy and independence. If we do that, I think we know we are basically doing a good job and are doing it right. The formative years went by more quickly for me than I ever anticipated. So, it’s a job that you know you will basically be fired from—and sooner than you think. Yes there is more to it than that, especially depending on varying philosophies, spiritual perspectives, and such; but they must move on. They get back in touch and should stay in touch, but they mostly must go forth on their own; since it is not our jobs to live their lives for them. So, again, that leaves a good amount of time to put one’s life into other things.

Finally I would like to emphasize once more that it may be a bit of an unfair generalization to assume that say, a Gen. Bio I course at a strong CC college is less rigorous than a Gen Bio I course at a university. There are many variables in that, but in general, the basic course of study for the course should follow similar parameters. And one professor’s labs may be more intense at one school over another’s; so that too may not have so much to do with the school as it would the particular professor. I have taken courses at both CC and a respectable university. In the end, to me, it comes down to the particular professor, regardless of where he or she is teaching—and of course my own sweat equity.

Yeah I have just started thinking about doing my prerequisites to go to medical school after I finish my BA in May. I read on the University of Chicago medical school’s website on their FAQ page that they definitely look down on community college coursework. I have heard of other schools that don’t. Since it seems like money is not that big of an issue for you do your science courses at least at a state university. Since I don’t have much money I think I am going to take most of the required courses at a community college and then take a few additional courses such as biochemistry and maybe some genetics classes at a university. Hopefully that will be impressive enough to get into some medical school somewhere. I think it is to bad that community colleges are discriminated against so much especially since they are often the only option for poorer students and I think most of the community colleges in my area provide classes that are very equivalent to those at universities. A lot of times students I think do better in classes at community colleges not because the course was less rigorous and covered less material but because instructors are hired more based on their teaching skills while at universities hiring and tenure decisions are based almost exclusively on research and publication.

Could you please post the link to where the University says it does not want Community College? I know that people can’t cut and paste quotes they have received from advisors in person. However, if you are quoting a website it’s nice for others to read it for themselves. Thank you!

-Yes, I am making my list of schools where I won’t waste my money sending an application into. (I like to see that information in print.) I know that I am not going to allow my location and financial limitations hold me back from pursuing my dream of being a doctor. I am attending CC.

Thanks Kimberly! I am with you because I was considering like you taking some courses at a CC because it’s cheaper and it’s more conveinant to my job and they have some times that are better for me. I do have some non science classes that I could probably take there, but I’m seriously struggling in algebra and I already dropped my College Algebra this semester, I was considering re-taking it at a CC. I thought perhaps with a smaller class size I could do better, I just really seem to need more of the teachers time and everyone gets so annoyed with all of my questions and I tend to stop asking them so that all of my younger classmates will stop giving me those “looks” hence I fall behind.

I’d suggest trying to audit a course at the university before you take it for credit. Some profs will even let you sit in class free of charge.

I met with the head of admission at The College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University and she told me that they have no problem accepting CC credit for pre-req classes. She said online coursework is even acceptable. So I really do think it varies from school to school.

  • clongstreet Said:
I met with the head of admission at The College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University and she told me that they have no problem accepting CC credit for pre-req classes. She said online coursework is even acceptable. So I really do think it varies from school to school.

Many schools have this viewpoint, but there's a BIG difference between accepting CC credit and accepting someone to med school with CC credit.

Mnay people should asks schools how many students they accepted with CC credit.

PS- I got accepted with CC credit, but I also had years of higher level University coursework in the sciences as well as a Master's in Chem under my belt.

Heaven’s no!

It’s never too late to follow your dream and become who you really are inside. Go for it and I wish you the best!


Hi Everyone: I am new to this board and find it very encouraging. As for the community college acceptance of credits: I’ve learned that if you go to any of the college of medicine websites, you will find that for the prerequisite requirements, they will want you to have at least a year each of upper division science discipline, i.e., a year of bio, o-chem, physics, etc., regardless of what your major is. Upper division classes are not provided at community colleges, ergo, you must attend a university. Also, they want the science requirements to be recent. Which is reasonable since the MCAT will require that you know those disciplines completely. All schools are different, but considering the jump in applicants and the competitive nature of med school, I am fairly certain that your undergrad score and especially the MCAT score is going to be really important. From what I’ve read in various places, it is also even more difficult to find a residency. Probably more difficult than getting into med school! So the scores still matter even at that stage of training. And med school scores are important in all classes, not just the ones you think you’ll specialize in b/c the residency programs look at an overall grade average. Whew! I think managing the bureaucracy of this will be the hard part, not the medical training.

BTW, I am 41, working on biochem undergrad, will be ready to take MCAT at 44, and onto school, I’m assuming, at 45. The positive notes on this age issue is really great.

I can tell you for sure that what you refer to as “upper level science courses” (Organic Chemistry, Physics, etc.) are offered at most community colleges. You probably couldn’t get a major in Biochemistry, but you can definitely satisfy all of your prerequisites. The question is how admissions will look at it.

No, upper division courses are not simply Ochem, physics, etc., they are the 300 and 400 series of these courses that are taught at a school from which you can obtain a bachelor’s degree. To my knowledge, you cannot earn a B.A. from a community college. Yes, you can take those classes at CC, but they are the 100 series.