New here, unsure if this is the path for me, would appreciate any advice

Hi everyone,

I’m so glad to have found this forum and to know that there are so many non traditional pre meds out there. It’s inspiring to see people go out there and pursue their dreams in spite of setbacks and age.

A little bit about me… Going to medical school was always intriguing to me. However, I grew up in the Middle East and there weren’t opportunities to explore that avenue, at least at the time, so it became a forgotten dream. I moved to the US when I was 17 and started CC right away. Being very young, without a clear end goal in mind and completely unaware of how the US education system worked, I started my undergrad as a pre dental student (wanting to make big money quickly). Over a summer, I took a biotechnology course that changed my entire outlook on science. Biotechnology was new, fascinating and exciting for me so I ended up changing majors and going to UC San Diego for molecular biology.

While I was in UCSD, I reconsidered med school but became disillusioned by the competitive nature of the application process. I graduated with a BS in molecular biology in 2007, with a 3.7 overall GPA and 4.0 molecular biology GPA. I had initially considered pursuing a PhD but changed my mind after I realized it wasn’t the path for me (the isolating nature, the constant submission for grants etc). Since then, I have been working at a transplant diagnostic company which makes kits for tissue typing, having worked my way up from a lab tech to a supervisor of a product line. During my 10 years of work in IVD, I got married and got used to the stability, the comfort and the consistency of life.

Very recently, due to some changes at work, I’ve began to re-evaluate my life, my career choice and my future. Medical school is back on my mind. I want to have direct impact on the lives of people. Everytime I hear of someone getting in medical school, I think “that could be me”. I should mention that since this is a very recent epiphany, I have not taken any action on it. I have no volunteer experience, or ECs.

Apologies for the long intro but I guess I’m wondering where I stand if I wanted to apply to med school.
1)I had a pretty good GPA but I realize that all my courses are 10+ years old. How do I find out the school requirements for pre-reqs and their expiration dates?
2)After reading of the other non traditional pre meds here, I don’t feel like I have a good enough or convincing story to pursue med school except in my heart, it feels right. How can I be sure? Is anyone 100% sure?
3)How much ECs hours do I need to be a solid applicant?
4)I don’t even know where to begin if this is my journey.

I’m 34 years old and don’t want to spend years speculating on this decision. Any advice would be highly appreciated.

Thank you!

Hi and welcome! I have some suggestions for your questions 2 and 4. If you haven’t done any volunteering with patient contact or shadowing a doctor, I would suggest starting with that. You really don’t want to shell out money or time for more education only to shadow a doctor or work with patients and discover that it isn’t for you. Check with your local hospital, hospice, or nursing home to see if they have any volunteer opportunities with direct patient contact. If you hate it, you can quit, and you haven’t lost anything more than a few hours of your life. If you love it, you can keep going and make it an EC on your application.

I agree with the above, and it’s a great way to start exploring to see if it really something you want to pursue.

Regarding question 1: Pretty much every medical school sets their own requirements. The only real way to investigate that question is to go to the admissions sites of the schools you might be interesting in applying to and seeing if they have any written requirements. Worse comes to worse, you can email admissions offices and see if they can answer the question. If you want to shell out money for a consolidated data set, the AAMC MSAR is a subscription service that has info on all of the MD schools. DO schools have something similar. I applied 5 years ago, but I saw schools range from 5 years, to a recommended 10 years, to no mention at all of a timeline. I ended up getting into a “recommended within 10 years” school with a couple of classes a little bit older than that. On that note, I did have one dean of admissions comment that recency of academic success (ie, courses taken since graduation) looks pretty good. You might consider looking into something that interests you to get a more recent class under your belt, and if nothing else, prove to yourself that you still have the academic prowess to tackle 2 years of intense basic/clinical sciences.

Question 2: My story is my story. Your story is your story. The life you lived and decisions you made throughout life that got you to this point are what they are, and there shouldn’t be any shame or remorse in the journey that brought you here. I wasn’t 100% sure, but I was sure enough that it was worse the jump when weighing school vs the life that I had planned out for myself previously. Almost done with my 3rd year of med school and only rarely ever miss my old life and think of what I’d be doing now if it wasn’t this (and then I realize it’s still worth it).

Question 3: Tough to answer. Take a look at the AAMC core competencies. The things you do, in my opinion, should strengthen your ability to show that you have what the overarching organization feels are the characteristics that make a good future medical student/doctor. Think a little outside the box too, because you’re an adult, with a life, and the things that a college student has to do to stand out are different than someone who has a family, job, and real responsibilities (not a knock on college kids) has the time for. Your job(s) are ECs, having a family could be considered an “EC,” whatever it is you do in your free time that you enjoy is an EC, etc. The one thing I would stress you absolutely need to have is some shadow time or other sort of clinical experience. Admissions folks want to know that you understand what it is you’re getting into and not some view of medicine through rose colored glasses. Also, it’d be great to show yourself that this is something you want to do, because man is it a big sacrifice to time, money, and everything else you’d rather be doing with your time and money.

Hi! Dr. Gray covered your question during #172! We hope we answered your question! If you ever have any other questions, please feel free to post in the forum again!

Thank you,