new and I am 57

Hello all I am new to the forum and I am 57 years old and in Canada. I am about to apply for med school. Any pointers of a positive nature would be greatly appreciated.



Hi Jeff

Check out the diary section of the forums. Kate is in her 3rd year of med school and is over 50. I’m a 46 yr old Canadian in my 2nd year of med school (DO). So it’s doable.

From my perspective, I had a lot of bad / mediocre grades from 20 yrs ago and I found that for the most part the US schools were more interested in the complete student and therefore had lower cutoffs which I hit than the Canadian schools.

Tell us more about your background and what your general plans are.



Thanks so much for your encouragement and comments.

I am about to retire and I am an organic chem prof (sorry as this will likely engender some ire from some when they remember the ‘dreaded’ org chem course that they took). SO I am guessing that the MCAT chemistry should be relatively easy for me. The only problem is that I have never studied biology and only did physics when at school and that was 40 years ago.

Any tips for studying the biology and physics topics would be very much appreciated

I am thinking of doing the MCAT soon just to see what it is like. Any comments on that idea?

Also, I havent done any volunteering (medical type) since I was in scouts. At that point I was a highly trained first aider, but again 40 years ago so likely I cant count that. I have kept my first aid training up to date all these years which I think is a good thing. Any suggestions as to what I should do?

I am a newbie at this so all help would be much appreciated

I spent some time looking at Kate’s blog and this really bolstered my spirits What a great writer… I really got a feeling for what she was going through - awesome

I will be back on in a day or so


Hi Jeff!

Thanks so much for your nice comments about my “blog” - which it pretty much is

Don’t take an official MCAT to “see what it is like” as med schools get scores from every time you’ve taken it. Take an AAMC on-line practice MCAT - the free one or pay for one of the others. Also, most med schools have a time frame within which your prereqs have to have been taken : often 10 years. That would not apply to Organic Chem as working in the field could substitute for recent academic credit but I’d assume it would apply to physics and biology. Taking the courses would be my advice to prep for MCAT in those areas.

I understand the drive to just study, take the test, and apply, but that is not generally feasable.


As Kate says, it is much cheaper to pay for the AAMC tests (old real MCATs) at $35/ea vs. $240 for the real test. It’s also safer - no risk of a low score while you figured out the test.

The schools I’m looking at do not have the 10year time fram for prereqs, which is good as my chem and bio are 18 years old. But, I also have current physics, ochem, genetics, and biochem to show that I still have the ability to do well in an academic setting. I’ve been told by a couple of schools that the old prereqs are ok as long as I did well on my MCAT (their way of knowing that I’ve retained the science info) and have done well in recent coursework. Bottom line, figure out where your own academic holes are, fill them, and double check w/ the med schools that you are specifically interested in to see what their policy is on age of classes.

BTW, I was one of the oddballs who enjoyed ochem -you don’t need to memorize all of the reactions, just the rules that govern them…a logic puzzle.

Best of luck!

Hi Kate, Thanks for the ‘prop up’ I am looking at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS. They have a strange interview process - 10 10 minute stations with scenarios etc. What gives with this?

Also I am looking to find out about ‘typical MCAT scores’ Do people get 12-12-12 what are 'normal scores? Help would be much appreciated here

As I said before - I am an org chem prof so the OC and Biochem is no problem. Any suggestions for study guides for the physics and the biology?

Thanks in advace for help given

Thanks so much for your encouraging words and wisdom


Lynda, Thanks for your encouraging words. I am a little freaked out about the biology in the MCAT which may be quite different to most people. The OC and biochem are no prob for me I think.

I think that the physics should not be too bad but the biology - I am severely lacking in this area,

I have often overheard a colleague teaching intro biology (I teach food chem in the next room) but I suspect that osmosed (is that a word) material is somewhat suspect Any suggestions for the biology parts of the MCAT



Jeff -

In case you’re not clear on it, you must have the biology and physics coursework - prior to MCAT. Any med school in the US will require you to have 2 semesters of biology and physics, with lab. Some will require it within the last 10 years. Some will not - but you need to take it.

Basic bio (cell and molecular biology) is your best bet for prep. Self study is not acceptable. I know this probably adds a year to your timetable.

As to what you are shooting for. 11-11-11 is a respectable score. (33). People get in with somewhat lower scores but this would be a good goal. 12-12-12 is a very good score. 35-36 would be very competitive.

Also be aware that folks who applied June of this year (2012) are applying to start medical school in fall of 2013 --there is a year between application and starting medical school, sometimes termed the “glide” year. If you are interested in taking other courses (more advanced biology, genetics, biochemistry) those can be taken during this time.

Folks who applied in June will probably get secondary applications to fill out after their application is processed (about 4-6 weeks) and will perhaps interview in Sept-December. Later applicants will get later interviews and it will be more competitive. Filling out the app in May and submitting as soon as applications open is your best strategy - this means planning on taking MCAT’s in spring.

Hope that’s helpful info!


Hey Jeff - The Canadian application cycle is very different from the US cycle. Applications generally have to be submitted by October and there is no benefit to getting it in early as they do nothing with them until after the deadline. Then they screen (probably via computer) as to minimum qualifications (GPA, MCAT) and from there decide who they will invite to interviews. No secondaries. Again generally all interview notices for all Canadian schools get sent out in January (roughly) with interview dates set for Feb / Mar (generally weekends). Finally they all send out notices (yes, no, waitlist) in May (roughly).

If you are only applying in Canada go through the requirements of each school carefully. Not all the schools in Canada require specific course requirements, but some do.

You’ll find that each school has a different way of calculating cut off GPAs so look at that as well. Generally any post-grad work is considered separately (some schools ignore it, others add a small factor of 0.1 or 0.2 to your calculated GPA). The GPA cut offs are generally quite high (Western was 3.8 for non-rural Ontario applicants). MCAT cut offs are pretty high here as well (you’ll need at least a 33 Q to be competitive - some schools require higher). Also watch for provincial quotas (Dalhousie is a great school but will be hard to get into if you don’t live in the Maritimes because they accept a small percentage outside of the Maritimes). If you happen to live in a rural area or speak french well enough to attend medical school in french, the cutoffs are lower.

The following is my personal opinion so take it with a grain of salt - I found the Canadian Medical Schools not to be very helpful when I was trying to understand what it would take to get accepted as an older student (the US schools generally were exceptionally friendly and helpful). The Canadian schools just didn’t care enough to talk to me about my situation even though I tried calling, emailing etc. U of Western Ontario was the exception, but I couldn’t meet their minimum cut offs. They basically get more than enough young applicants that meet their criteria so they aren’t interested in older applicants that may have an interesting life story and skills that would make them a good candidate.

Now since you said you are an Organic Chem prof and you mentioned you are interested in Dalhousie, I am hopeful that you teach there as that may give you a better reception that I managed to get.

Hopefully this doesn’t sound bitter or defeatest. I would have loved to have stayed in Canada, but I found that if I wanted to be a doctor, I would need to look elsewhere. Hopefully I will be coming back to practice in Canada in the future.

Good luck.


Hi Annette,

Just curious, how do you find out which schools don’t have a time requirement on prereqs? Which schools are you considering? Most of my grades are 18-20 years old. But, I’m currently pursuing a Masters in Biological Science to freshen things up a bit for the application cycle next year.



@Linda B: Basically, I checked each school’s website for prereqs and looked carefully for time requirements. I also e-mailed one of the schools and got the response I posted above.

I think my approach is reasonable, but I’ll be better able to tell you at the end of this application cycle if it was effective or not.

Hi Lynda, SO… I talked with some people in the Dalhousie Medical school. It seenms that they have a non discrimination policy on age (obviously since thi sis a Charter issue) but they said that they consider ’ the number of years that a potential candiadate would interact with the medical community’. This sounds like age discrimination to me… I have a 36S on MCATs already so I am looking for further advice re appling…

Any help would be much appreciated.


Lymda, I am also looking for advice regarding voluynteering. I can volunteer in a hospital, or with EMS or with paliative care with various church organisations… What do you think would be best?

Any help would be much appreciated.



Technically they can’t discriminate, but if you don’t get called for an interview, you really won’t know why. If you GPA from undergrad is strong I think you should make it past their first hurdle of high GPA/MCAT scores.

Then in comes down to who they want to bring to interviews based on the rest of their application. So you will need strong letters of recommendation. I can’t remember if the Canadian schools required one (or more) from a professor who taught you. That may pose a problem unless you have taken a course recently or still stay in touch with profs from your undergrad.

Volunteer work will be important. I volunteered at a hospice for 2-3 years before I applied. I had also done some work with Dog Guides of Canada, and various one off things through work. Ideally you want to have some exposure to the medical field (in the US they expect you to shadow a doctor but I don’t think this is the case in Canada - can’t remember now). The most important thing about volunteering is that you are excited and passionate about it. This way should they ask you about it in an interview, your enthusiasm will easily come through (Judy Colwell says something like “it makes your eyes dance”). Don’t know what your history is with volunteer work, but generally they would prefer than it is not just a short term gig to get into med school. Do you have anything you can point to through your career that was volunteer related - chaired a fundraising committee, mentored a student club, helped out at annual church events? Those sort of things will show that you are community minded. Then if you don’t have any medical volunteering, try to line up a position at a hospice, hospital long term care facility, rehab centre … You must make sure you are interested in it though and try to commit to at least 4 hours per week. Some of the US schools have a minimum amt of volunteer hours of around 250 hrs. Reread your question on volunteering - so again, any of those options would be good, but choose the one that really means something to you. For example, you had a relative that died of cancer in a hospice and that got you interested in medicine and palliative care - volunteer at a hospice. But if you aren’t interested / enthusiastic about palliative care, but helping kids is important to you, check out volunteering at pediatric hospital or rehab centre. You have to be passionate about volunteering and in turn about what drew you to medicine.

If you do get an interview, be prepared to answer direct or indirect questions about why medicine, why now.

Anyway, I hope that helps somewhat.



Several years ago, there was an OPM member who went by the OPM username of Presse. At the time he was active on this board, he was in his early 50’s. He applied to and matriculated into a Canadian medical school (University of Sherbrooke). I think if you go to the members section on this site, you can PM him (assuming he has not changed his email associated with OPM).

Also, when applying to medical schools in general, you need to be able to answer the “why medicine, why now” question. Why do you want to be a physician at this point in your life and not earlier? Why not nursing or something similar? If you can convincingly answer these questions for yourself and your interviewers, if you have experiences that can back you your reasonings and explanations, and if you have decent grades and test scores, you should have a good/reasonable chance of getting admitted to medical school.

I would also like to add, if you do some volunteer work, do not overdo it. Do not let it unnecessarily damage your GPA or “consume” all your free time. This was the mistake that I made, and now my GPA is paying the price for being uber-altruistic.

hi ;

I just started orientation today and let me tell You that I have several students in their thirties, at least few in their forties, and from what I saw there were two gentlemen in their fifties. But let me tell You this - I met one of my classmates today who is 62 years old

So, if this is Your dream, go for it. There are some schools that do not discriminate when it comes to age.

Just a side note-

A doctor at my medical school relates the story of our school founder, Roland Sharpe, D.O. He “retired” at 98 but still saw patients three days a week till 102. Now he’s 104.

The doctor’s comment “D.O’s frequently stay in practice well past the age that many M.D’s retire…not surgery of course…”

Geez, I was only figuring on practicing 20 years after residency or so (till I’m 80)


I jokingly call this “my retirement plan”. NEVER too old!!

Excellent - I like it!!