New member...been there!

Hello! I stumbled across this site while searching for resources for non-traditional pre-meds and medical students. What a great forum you have all created here! As a former non-trad who recently left private practice for academic medicine, this will be a great place to steer my older students for advice and support.

By way of brief introductions, my story is not unlike many of yours. I first thought about medicine in my teens, but it was so far off the radar at that time, that it remained a dream until my late 30s. Too long of a story to go into here…suffice to say thanks to a convergence of opportunity, ambition and a huge amount of support from my family, I started part-time post-bac work in Jan 2000 and was accepted to medical school in 2002, at the age of 43. Got the MD in 2006, finished family med residency in 2009, spent a year in private practice before once again following my heart and returning to my alma mater to combine teaching and medical practice. Was it tough? You bet. Would I do it all again? Probably, with just a few changes along the way. Was it all worth it? Absolutely.

I look forward to reading your stories and sharing this collective crazy dream. I hope to be posting some comments in the various forums, and welcome any questions anybody has about the application process, what to expect in school/residency, etc. For now just a couple of things to share that I learned along the way:

  1. The only person who can decide if you are too old is you. Too often non-trads make the mistake of seeing their age as a liability rather than an asset. 99% of the time during your training, the latter is the case.

  2. The way you assimilate knowledge changes as you get older; your ability to do so does not.

  3. It’s about the journey, not the destination. I think somebody in one of the forums compared the process to running a marathon. This is correct (from someone who’s done both). If all you think about is how much further you have to go, you’re defeating yourself. Put one foot in front of the other, focus on what is required of you in that moment, try not to stress about what you can’t control, and enjoy the scenery along the way. The rest will fall into place.

    More later. To all who are here because you heed the call, best of luck and safe travels on your road less taken.

Thanks for joining us, and I look forward to reading more about your experiences!

Thanks for your inspiring post, and for sharing your story. I also like your signature quote. There is a thread on here about mentoring – please take a look and indicate your participation if willing (you seem to be). That effort seems to be languishing, but perhaps we can revive it…

  • jmdmd Said:

The way you assimilate knowledge changes as you get older; your ability to do so does not.

I found this tonight - needed to see it and read it.

What a nasty bunch of ... on that "other" forum including the adcom from a DO school...

I take that other site with a grain of salt. From an idealistic societal view, I think that adcoms do have to think about return on investment for each seat. Those who have the most to offer to the class, school, and the at-large public should be the ones to fill the seats. I don’t necessarily mean time but lump in experiences and philosophies that people can benefit from at all levels by interaction with the person. With all things equal (probably never going to happen), why shouldn’t the seat go to the person who can offer the most time as a doc? (I get it, no one can predict the future, the younger guy may burn out and quit, etc. you can hypothetical this all day long)

This is why, in my opinion, we older applicants have to really dig deep into ourselves to find our unique experiences and life lessons learned. The philosophy you use to grow from your past and think about the future is just as important, if not more so, than what you’ve actually done. Find a way to fill out the apps to show you as a person and not just a drone who took classes and got by working a job.


it was the pejorative vitriol that took me by such great surprise.

I have the life experiences:

dead kid

volunteering for over 35 years

shadowing docs

disaster services volunteer ARC

international volunteering and work

raised 2nd son on my own

built my career from clerk to VP

did not get by with working a job, I was wildly successful… until I told my public company to quit lying to the SEC about their financial statements (did it as the VP of internal audit)…

then I watched my life fall completely apart… destroyed by the laws meant to prevent another Enron, WorldCom, Tyco; prevent Ken Lay and Fastow and the others from doing such egregious wrongs to the public.

I was excoriated… but one can choose to look at that as awful (it was; went from $2M net to BK - thanks to GM and the company I had worked for)…or

one can choose to go back to the 4th grader who finished that grade in 4 months, wanted to be a doc, went through high school as a med school ranger …

Almost everyone I know in the real world says I am utterly humble, always willing to help another, always willing to chip and do what needs to be done no matter how dirty or disgusting or whatever …

but that site and it’s angry, jealous, nasty, responses?

that I did not expect… for had I left out everything BUT my age - the adcoms would have been all over me…

What was especially frightful is the vitriol spewed by practicing physicians.

And then I came here. And I remembered the physicians and professors I met while taking my pre-reqs and they - bar none - said I’d make it.

Well, if I do well on the MCAT.

  • kennymac Said:
Those who have the most to offer to the class, school, and the at-large public should be the ones to fill the seats. I don't necessarily mean time but lump in experiences and philosophies that people can benefit from at all levels by interaction with the person.

But that is exactly what you are saying.

Time back to society = seat.

Well for what? My med school education is paid for. If I stay the current course, the money for it is in the bank, or will be.

I've paid my "debt" to society - how much volunteering do I put down on an app?

30 years - ARC, ALS, homeless shelters, food share weekends, building an inner city packs/snacks for kids in the most decidedly underserved part of the city (and yes, Target stole that from me after I was successful - people who helped me get that started... worked for Target), the animal rescue I did for 20 years and still help with equine rescue (though not human related), handicapped kids on horses PATH certified equine center, and on and on and on.

Water wells in Peru, Ghana, and Chile... volunteering in Ghana for medical clinics, volunteering Honduras to rebuild after hurricane...

And I want to go back to the Philippines to teach those physicians so they can integrate western medicine into their cultures where as a tall, blond American woman, I would be in danger.

Not to mention the money I've donated...

So, I ask - how does a 22 or 23 or 30 year old stand up to that with my stats (3.97 from 2009 - 2012, all BCPM)?

They can't. The only difference is: I am 50.

I’m saying that the experiences you have and the lessons you have learned through those experiences is what schools should be drawn towards since you theoretically have less time to work as a physician than the 22 year old who has done comparatively nothing. That is what they are investing in: you being able to teach others and empathize better with the greater patient population.

In the unrealistic “other site” world, you’d have done everything that you have done between the ages of 16-23 and then applied to school. Didn’t you know that humans peak at 22 and you’ll never know more about life than what you learned in college?

Adcoms aside on that site, 20 something’s that know nothing else about life other than what they have speculated have no place doling out advice on a process they themselves don’t understand. I’ll admit I do scan the newest threads every once in awhile until I get pissed and can’t take it anymore, which usually doesn’t take that long.

I’m not doubting your qualifications or experiences. The comment wasn’t necessarily directed at you but to the group. My preaching point is don’t just write down what you’ve done on the apps. To be successful requires a lot of introspection that you can concisely describe in the PS and experiences section.

I myself didn’t check all of the standard boxes that one would expect. I think I sold myself well enough to have some adcoms overlook my “flawed” application.

And kudos for wanting to help out abroad. I’m grateful for people like you. I’ve done my time in less than desirable locations overseas and see myself finishing out my life right here in the good old US.

Thank you, Kenny…

I was so … puzzled by the site.

The MCAT comes first and frankly, if I don’t get into the 30s, I will be done with med school and this path. Which is okay.

Thank you for having served … /salute. One of my other thoughts after having talked to a vet who could not get his ruined arm taken care of by the VA is to work in the VA …

our armed forces give up everything - and unfortunately, everything oft times has meant the life. Upon return, these veterans should be treated like platinum… not waitlisted for basic medical care.



Hi. I am new to all of this. What is this other site ur talking about?

I see u posted this 4 years ago, but I thought I would reply anyway. I am hoping to start med school next year. I am 43. I feel ridiculous. Was good to read yr post. Thx.