Needing advice

Thank you for allowing me this chance to speak w/ you all.
Here’s my dilemma. I am 39 y.o., my wife and I are both family practice physician assistants. We have been practicing for 7 years. We have 2 beautiful boys and life is good…except… there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish I had pursued medical school. Some say that we have it better than physicians but I feel like I need and want to know more. It’s akin to climbing a mountain and getting near the summit and then turning around. I know in my heart of hearts I have not reached my full potential.
Herein lies my problem. I need to finish 2nd semester O-Chem and Physics but working full-time there are no evening or weekend classes and it just isn’t feasible for me to quit my job @ this point. My wife is supportive and could work full-time when and if I get in. I have searched for on-line courses but w/ chem and physics labs that doesn’t work. I assume admission committees don’t like to see correspondence coursework anyway. With that said, do i have a prayer??
Are there any others out there that have found a way to finish up a few courses while working full-time?
I really appreciate everyone’s insight and time. This is an AWESOME resource.
Stephen G. Kennebeck, PA-C
Aurora Medical Group Oshkosh

PASteve –
It’s definitely a lot of hard work, but do-able! I work full time and have a per diem job that I do every other weekend and was able to complete my pre-reqs. Fortunately, I’m close to Northeastern and they have a pretty extensive catalog of evening/weekend classes. It’s taken me almost three years (I could only take 2 classes at a time and still retain my sanity!)but I’m done with the basic pre-reqs. I graduated in 94 so my grades were waay to old for med school, I had to re-do almost everything. Not sure exactly where you’re located, but I would recommend checking out local colleges to see if they have evening sections or “university colleges” that cater to the older working set. Feel free to ask if you want any more details, but I started just by checking out all the websites for schools in my area to see if they offered continuing ed. and then sent away for catalogs for the details. Best of luck!!

Hi Steve:

Heck yeah you have prayer. I think you have a couple. To make sure I am following you correctly, all you need to finish is second semester physics and o-chem. Two classes? A semester is ~3.5 months. Can you adjust your schedule to work this period of time at night so you can take the classes during the day? How flexible is your work environment? Could you take a leave of absence and do something else (work wise) to facilitate this brief period to take the courses.

Hi Steve, first let me say “I hear you” with respect to wanting to extend your reach. Since I was an RN before, I had a lot of friends who questioned my doing this - why not go for NP? You’ve articulated it much better than I was ever able to; in fact I tried to avoid this subject during my interviews because I wasn’t sure how to word it without putting down my former profession. It wasn’t that I disliked nursing at all … but finally at the age of 40+, I knew I had the capability to do more and I finally felt ready to take the responsibility. So you’ll get no argument from me for longing to take your quest to the next step!
I don’t see any way that you can get around completing the prerequisites. As you know, there are lots more applicants than spaces in any given medical school, and having an application that doesn’t meet all the requirements right off the bat is a sure way to get disregarded in the process. So you’ve got your career challenge up front: you note that your wife will be able to work while you’re in medical school, but you may need to negotiate an arrangement right now that will allow you to take this next step. Only you can decide if this is worth it to you and your family.
I would like to hope that your employers would be supportive and would let you work altered hours in order to accommodate a course… I guess I’d recommend that you go to them with a proposal that shows how you could do it without terribly disrupting the practice. Maybe they’ve been wanting to extend evening hours one night a week and you’d be able to provide that… or Saturday mornings… i dunno, obviously i don’t know anything about how your practice works, so these ideas are just off the top of my head.
I’ve certainly heard of people doing a course such as o-chem while working full time. It can’t be easy - you know o-chem is demanding - but I presume that they just plug away at it and don’t have much free time. I have to admit to you that I was able to do one year of my prerequisites as a full-time student (the year before I worked part-time and went to school part-time), so I don’t have personal experience with this. But it’s certainly been done.
You are the sort of candidate who I think could certainly present community college credits without worrying too much about how a medical school will look at them - you’ve already gone through a “sort of” med school curriculum and succeeded, so they are more oriented toward checking off the boxes that say “o-chem” and “physics” than in seeing if you can actually hack the coursework. So if you haven’t looked at CC’s as possibilities for these courses, I urge you to do that.
You’re right, the lab requirement makes it almost impossible to do these courses as correspondence. However, there was a discussion about this on OPM a looooong time ago, and if memory serves, someone found a course that they could do on-line as long as they could set up their own lab time. ?? I don’t know how that would work (and didn’t pay that much attention to the discussion, to be honest). you might try searching the archives for ‘correspondence course’ to see what pops up. (note: the default time period is set for one month. You’ll need to reset it to “since time began,” or whatever the longest timeframe is, I forget how it’s worded but it will be obvious once you start looking.)
Okay, one other thought. Reading between the lines I suspect you’ve got some ideas about where you’d like to apply to medical school. I would strongly urge you to call up an admissions office person at one of your potential schools and chat them up. Find out what else they may want to see - forewarned is forearmed. Among other things you’ll need to make sure that your other prereqs are still ‘fresh’ enough to count - don’t take the 2d semester of o-chem only to find out that you need to do the whole sequence over, in other words.
I hope this helps!

Hi Steve,
I thought I would add one more possibility to your list. If you can somehow work it out… some schools have condensed summer classes. I am taking O chem 1 now and it is less than 5 weeks. Perhaps you can get a month off? Probably easier said than done but I thought I’d mention it.
Good luck.

Do you have post-bach programs for working adults? At my post-bach program, for example, you can have the physics lecture, section, and lab, all on a Tuesday night, beginning at 5:30pm. There are premed programs designed for working adults.

Hi Steve…
I am a PA also, in Syracuse…I do Surgery (General, Thoracic, Vascular) in a 500 bed hospital. The beauty of that is that now, I work full time, 36 hrs for 40 three nights a week. My school, LeMoyne, is a very receptive institution that is catering to OPMers like myself. Anyway, I work 36 for 40, 12 hrs, on S,T,Th nights and go to school Monday thru Thursday. I plan on taking the MCAT next April and hopefully, if all goes according to plan, entering fall 95, although I may have to wait a year. I really don’t want to wait, as I am not getting any younger (41). The people at SUNY Syracuse are very receptive…we have a group of 6 or 7 non-trads that meet a couple of times a monthat school, and they (the dean of admissions and a member of the admissions committee who teaches gross anatomy) have come to the meetings to speak. I am meeting with them this morning to discuss my transcripts. I feel that I am very lucky to have situations like this, both at school, at home with my family and kids, who are the most supportive, and with SUNY being as receptive and supportive as they have been. If I can help in any way, let me know. It can definitely be done, although, lemme tell you, it ain’t easy, even if it all comes together.Good luck.
Jeff K

Hi Steve, As always, Mary has good advice. I may be suggesting the obvious, and I suspect you’ve thought about this…however, is either Ripon or Green Bay (U. WI/Green Bay) close enough for school commute? Also, have you gone to talk with MCW & U WI admissions folks (high up in the admissions office, not a admin. asst.) to ask what they would consider? Just thoughts…

Thank you for the input but no such post-bac programs in or near my town. Not even in Madison. I continue to look.

If you’ve done urgent care, can you change jobs and work somewhere where there’s a second shift? I know that’s a big leap, but maybe it’s something you could investigate.
UW-Milwaukee sort of offers physics in the evening, but it’s not their best instructor and I think you’d have to be down here by 5 ish, which sounds like it’s not realistic for you. And chemistry just isn’t offered at night here. I had to cut down to an 80% appointment at my on-campus job to be able to fit in the daytime classes. Fortunately, my director let me do it!

I had a similar issue of trying to work full time and take classes. I work for a large corporation which is typically not recepetive to people taking timeoff to pursue other career paths, however I was able to convice my manager to let me take an extended lunch twice a week to take a class…O-chem. Luckily my office is about 10 minutes from NC State Univ. I began work at 9,left work at 3:40, class began at 4:05 and went to 5:20, then I rushed back to work for 5:40 and stayed until 7 pm. The class met 2 times a week. Luckily my school offered lab starting at 7:30 pm-10:20 pm. I know that NCSU ( has both O-chem 1 and 2 offered online. If you take it online, take Sandberg’s class. She is great!
For time off for the MCAT I actually spent 4 months in negotiations with my manager to get some study time. I practically had to sign away my first born kid to get the time! Painful but worth it! So, I think it can be done and if this is what you really want to do then you will find a way!
I wish you best!

Hi everyone! I am new to this forum after being an anonymous guest for awhile. I am very happy that a place like this exists for old/nontraditional premeds. The support and confidence that you give each other is fantastic and uplifting, which is why i’m finally here… well my drama goes like this…
Straight A student from elementary through the end of high school…honors and all…entrance scholarship to university etc… I always knew that i wanted to be a doctor…so i set my sights upon that… went to university and attempted to major in biochemistry…took all crazy hard classes which i hated…(not all of them) My family supported my decision but treated me like i was in boot camp… I lived at home with them during my undergrad education…for they were paying for it. I was not allowed to go out with friends and any grade lower than an A and i was yelled at…so i had to hide my grades being a nerd and all…i was severely depressed never having gone to prom or even a date and had only 1 friend… the depression was so bad that i finished my degree with a gpa of well…hmm bad like 2.0… then i moved away from home and told my parents that i was doing more school etc…before med school… it was then and through counselling that i realized how sheltered i had been. I’m from a small town and during elementary and high school i was physically and verbally abused by my peers…and then pressured at home to do well at school and be perfect…no wonder i ended up this way…anyways…i had thought after high school that majoring in biochem was a sure way to get into med school…i realize now that i could have studied in any field had i fufilled the pre-med requisites… I am upset that i didn’t know this sooner and got pushed into nothing but science classes…i love science…i’m great at chemistry and calculus and love microbio…but i also would have loved to studied other courses such as history or something fun… so now I’m 26 with that 2.0 in biochem… been working for 4 years here and there…family thinks i’m on a bright path…I’ve overcome my depression and i’ve seen the light…I want to be a doctor for me and not to fufill other’s expectations of me…and the fact that i went through so much has made me stronger ( i realize that now) my problem is that i have no money… well not enough for school anyways…and i don’t know if i should do another degree? or take some CLEP exams or transfer somewhere to higher my gpa or just do another degree altogether…i’ve got experience working as an aide in a hospital and the special olympics and other stuff…i was thinking osteopathic schools or allopathic… but my past is haunting me… i don’t know what to do… I’m also from canada so this limits me even more…the schools here are so…how should i say A*** my family is wondering what the hell i’m doing and if i’m a doctor yet…how do i deal with all of these thinggs… i love medicine… i love helping ppl i know i can do it… i just don’t know how to tackle it any advice would be appreciated…sorry if it was long and dull… i’m just frumppy


That’s a pretty interesting story you’ve got. We all probably have some demons from our upbringing…I know I definitely have my share. It sounds like you have at least figured out how to break away from that oppressive environment that has been keeping you from achieving your potential though.

You no doubt have read Dave’s history here, so you know that a 2.0 is not the end of the world by any means. However, you will definitely need some time in school to show that you are “all better now,” as is the case with probably most people on this site. I personally had about a 2.5, well actually 2.9 if you calculate in all my undergrad, but a nice handful of D’s and F’s in there my last few semesters, because I really didn’t care back then.

I’m not sure what financial help is available given your situation, but that obviously sounds like it is one of the primary bottlenecks in being able to get back up and running in school. You’re still very young, compared to me anyway, and you have time to find a job, or even get into a field for a few years in order to get the money flowing in. If you don’t have a family, that lowers your financial burdens considerably as well. Computer programming worked as a wonder for me, as something that I could teach myself and bootstrap myself into a great paying career, and a situation which I can now maximize to get through school while working full-time, etc.

I’d start considering how you want to paint this situation to someone sitting on an admissions committee, when you do apply. Why the 2.0, what did you do to overcome that problem, and how does that fit into who you really are? Maybe another degree, or graduate work, showing that you have “found yourself” and are now mature enough and ready to become a doctor.

Just some ideas and opinions. Good luck to you.


Thanks Sam,
Your advice was very encouraging! I was thinking maybe masters in gerotonology or transferring decent grades to another university and retaking the ones that i didn’t do so hot on… i’ve got a certificate in early childhood education as well…so maybe i’ll work part time as i go to school…and build credit…so that i can take out a loan from a bank or something… i don’t care if i end up in debt just as long as i acheive my goal… anyways… thank you again for your advice…and have a beautiful week

Doing a new degree with good grades may work well, enough time would have gone by to explain the new you! You will have to be focused and energetic in this, the Special Olympics is great and you already have some experience with pts.
Good luck and welcome

First off, I want to apologize for posting this as a response, but I don’t know how/I don’t have the option on my screen to start a new topic. Secondly, I hope that my writing within this forum and still being in my mid twenties (26) is not offending anyone here. Perhaps I am not OLDpre-med criteria, but I do know that I am a bit older than the average age of the med school applicants.
The reason I am writing, however, is because I am hoping that some of you will be willing to offer any thoughts and insight on my situation. I graduated with my bachelor of science back in 2002 and after a couple years off, now I just completed my B.A. The reason for this lag is that I have been unfruitfully trying to get into medicine. Basically, although my science scores were okay/average (i.e. 9-11 depending on which test sitting) my VR section absolutely sucked, therefore is impeding me from getting in. I have actually written the MCAT three times and I still can’t improve my verbal. I was hoping to have written it a fourth time this April, but was unable to. So, should I just move on already?
Aside from not getting the necessary score thus far, the reason I ask is because I am on the verge of pursuing another career path. Given that I am now 26 (yes, I know that it is still relatively young) and nothing has yet materialized, I figured that I have got to get a move on and realistically look for alternatives. So, given that I worked in an optometrist office for a few years, I wrote the OAT (which ironically enough I got a 380 in the reading comp section i.e. approx. the 98th percentile) and have been accepted into optometry school. I know this is also a good career, but while facing the fact that I am not going to be an M.D. I am having a difficult time swallowing this pill since my heart completely resides with being a medical doctor. Sure, I could possibly get into a Carribean medical school, but it is a lot of money (as any professional program in the states) and there is no guarantee that I would get placement for residency, plus my fiance will not go down there to practice law. Everything I have done since grade school has been geared toward medicine. I certainly do not have the experiences like some other applicants, particularly the older ones, but I have more than many people I know that are in medicine now. Without getting into ALL of my details, I have now been working in a microbiology lab for a year, done other research, demonstrated A & P labs for three terms, tutored, I have volunteered in a hosptial as well as a hockey coach and dance teacher, and I have worked for a tissue bank as the one who actually works in the O.R. to ‘retrieve’ the donor’s tissues, and so forth. Also, not that it means anything, but so many people through the years (from friends, classmates, professors, employers, family and even doctors themselves) have continuously told me how I would make such a great doctor - a sentiment wonderful to hear, but also difficult to hear when I can’t make it happen.
Even if I wanted to, though, I will not be able to write the MCAT (the last written administration) this August because I will be starting my optometry program then. And it would be ubsurd of me not to at least purue the optometry thing at this point, just in case medicine never happens (which has been the case so far). So what is one to do in this instance?
Maybe I should just suck it up and accept not being an M.D., but it is really eating at me. As another said, it is like climbing a mountain at getting close to the peak but then turning around before reaching it (something to that effect - sorry for the inaccurate wording).
As I said above, any thoughts on this issue is highly welcomed - I would greatly appreciate it all.



Maybe I should just suck it up and accept not being an M.D., but it is really eating at me. As another said, it is like climbing a mountain at getting close to the peak but then turning around before reaching it (something to that effect - sorry for the inaccurate wording).
As I said above, any thoughts on this issue is highly welcomed - I would greatly appreciate it all.

Hi there,
If you do a search on this website, you will come across the story of OldManDave who overcame an undergraduate GPA of 1.2 and is now a very successful anesthesia resident. He essentially completed a second major in Neuroscience with highest honors while working as a respiratory therapist. It can be done.
If you do not want to be in optometry, then why do it? If you know that you are not going to be fulfilled as an optometrist, then do not stay there. What you have not said is why your academics are so poor and what you have done to correct the situation. If you do not know, then you probably want to get some help in finding out why you did so poorly.
You know that is it possible to get into medical school after doing poorly in your youth because others have done it. Is it going to be easy? No is will not and you will have a few years of very hard work ahead of you.
If medicine is what you want, then go after it and plot a course so that you may successfully achieve your goals. There is no age limit on getting into medical school as many on this board have proven.
Figure out what you want and figure out a way to make it happen.
Good luck!

Hi Natalie,
Thanks for the response. You certainly helped reinforce the fact that I should not give up on the thing that is truly going to satisfy me.
As for the academics, well my undergrad is not a problem (my GPA is 3.8), but it’s the VR section on the MCAT. So, perhaps the solution is to just keep trying and even get a tutor. Anyway, thanks again, and thanks to those responsible for this website because hearing others stories is incredibly inspiring. It is wonderful to hear of such amazing and courageous people.


Hi Natalie,
Thanks for the response. You certainly helped reinforce the fact that I should not give up on the thing that is truly going to satisfy me.
As for the academics, well my undergrad is not a problem (my GPA is 3.8), but it’s the VR section on the MCAT. So, perhaps the solution is to just keep trying and even get a tutor. Anyway, thanks again, and thanks to those responsible for this website because hearing others stories is incredibly inspiring. It is wonderful to hear of such amazing and courageous people.

The 3.8 is awesome but whats the SCi GPA? The MCAT whats the previous scores? It’s okay we won’t tell anyone, point is there are at least 4 paths to Medicine, MD, DO, Post bach then reapply (not in your case I would think) and Caribbean/European Med schools.
Yes with special permission you can retake the MCAT but if your total score is above a 28 you have a good shot at some schools now. (I don’t know what the limit is on applying with the scores, is it 3 years?)
Let us know.

Hi, it sounds like your challenge is very specific–how can you improve your verbal score? It also sounds like you’ve managed to find a way to do well academically in every other setting. In reading this board over time, I’ve come to feel that the differential diagnosis for the person who’s banging their head against the wall to get what they need to get into medical school, but just can’t seem to do it is:
1. Emotional challenges
2. Global academic difficulties (there’s usually a big differential within this, but I won’t get into it here, because it’s the one that doesn’t seem to fit you)
3. Learning disabilities.
I can’t speak to #1–whether there’s something about the verbal section that makes you want to cry, or brings up some inner self-doubt that keeps sabotaging you. #2 doesn’t seem right–your GPA is strong and your MCAT science scores are good. So, I think you should consider the possibility of #3–some kind of very specific processing problem that makes it difficult for your brain to pass that part of the test in the appropriate amount of time.
The good news is that you can get accomodations for testing, or, if you don’t want that, help or strategies to try to get around your processing challenges. The bad news is that getting the neuropsych workup you’ll need to diagnose it can be quite expensive–anywhere from $600-$3000–and many health insurance plans will not cover it. But I think it might be worth it in your case.
If I were you, before I went to a tutor, I’d go to a psychologist–someone with a Ph.D.–and simultaneously explore the likelihood of either #1 or #3 being the issue for you. I’d also plan on taking some real time to work through this–figuring out the root causes of our own academic challenges often brings up many difficult emotions, whether those challenges are differences in brain wiring, or emotional barriers. You have plenty of time–you’re young!–and you need to make sure that you’ve really worked on this before you go bang your head against the wall. Next time you take the test, you want to find the handle that opens the door, instead of the dent where your head banged the wall last time.
Good luck!