New "old" student! Am I being realistic?

Hi all,
Please bear with me if this a bit long, but it’s my first post.
I am 40 years old, went to the 3 academic semesters of PA school and had a family problem that did not allow me to go to clinicals. So once the problem was resolved, I already had a Bachelors in Health Science, and began an accelerated BSN/RN program, thinking I would eventually become a NP. HOWEVER, now that I’m in nursing school (graduate in 2007)and work in an ED as a CIM (work closely with doctors while they examine and interview patients, and then make their charts) I am realizing how much I really want to be an ED Doctor. I talked with a few of the docs and they all think I should go to med school given what I already know.
My issue is timing - I already have a substantial amount in student loans, over 100K - Can I work at all as an RN during med school or will there be no time? WHen do I start making money as a resident? After two or four years of med school?
Since I plan on working as an ED doc, I will work in a hospital, so will my malpractice still be “all mine” to pay? If so, does anyone know how much?
I still have to take physics and orgo, so figure I would take one of the each semester until I finish nursing school, then as I work for 2 years full time as an RN to get caught up with some bills, I can start applying to med school. So figure I’ll be around 44 when I get into med school, and will graduate at 50-52 at the most - do you think that’s insane? Do you think I have ANY chance this will one day be financially worth it?
Either way I’ll go all the way with NP or MD, because I enjoy the clinical part of medicine more than the task part. I know I could find “my place” as an NP; but my heart tells me I would be much happier as an MD. I just don’t know if it’s too late age wise and financially. I’m already married, have a mortgage and a daughter in college.
Sorry for the length. Please let me know your thoughts!
Claudia

Claudia,
Welcome to the forum! I am pretty sure others may disagree with my response but the multiple perspectives is what makes this forum so informative.
I dont think you are too old if being a physician is your dream. You asked the question “Do you think I have ANY chance this will one day be financially worth it?” and my answer is NO! Unless you can put a huge dent into the $100k of student loans you already have, or have an alternative way to finance med school, you could significantly add to your student loan balance. I know money isnt the reason you want to be a doctor so it shouldnt be the reason to keep you from going. I dont think you will start making money until your a resident but I will let others answer that question. Everyone school advisor I have talked to said that working was impossible while in schoool but I have two friends that are third year students that work part time and are doing fine. It will probably be a function of your learning ability and ability to deal with stress or love for sleep. I really hope you go to med school if it is what you truly want to do. If you decide to go, I hope your husband is supportive of your decision. I am also married with a 19 month son. I currently work in a corporate restructuring firm and make around $250k per year. My wife has stayed home for the last few years. It was a hurdle to convince her to go back to a life of poverty. She knows how unfulfilled I am at my current job and how much becoming a doctor means to me so she came around and is going to go back to work. She has her masters degree in social work so it still might be a step down in family income. What ever your decision is I am sure you will only find encouragement and support here. Good luck and merry christmas.

Thank you so much for such a motivating post and congratulations on your courage and motivation as well! It’s amazing how when you have that “bug” to go to med school, it just keeps rearing it’s head. I tried so many other alternatives, but that longing was always there. I just hope I can get through the pre reqs and the MCATS. I’m mortified of taking calculus, have always had a phobia of math, but am willing to give it a try. I’m only applying to two state schools in NY so I can if not commute on a daily basis, at least be able to see my family - plus it won’t cost what a private school will. My husband is fantastic, he too works for corporate america, and although his salary is not at your level, he is tired and actually is beginning nursing school so he can go on up to becoming a nurse anesthetist. So hooray for us and our spouses! And you especially for doing this with a 19 month old! How old are you? I read a few posts of non trad students and they were all late 20s! Are there any 40s out there??? : )
Take care and happy holidays!
Claudia

Hi Claudia,
Yes, there are “40’s” out here! I am 48 and will be 50 or 51 when I start due to the need for prereqs and having to finish the master’s program I had already begun when I “woke up” to my real life. I had thought about just dropping the master’s (Ed Psych), but so many admissions people said it would be seen in an unfavorable light, that I decided to finish it while also pursuing the science courses. My personal thoughts on age have changed quite a bit in the past 6 months or so. One of the factors for this is the dynamics of this group, another is the cultural paradigm shift currently in progress, and another is plain old introspection. I grew up in an era where anyone over 30 was old and not to be trusted. I remember being 20-something and reading obituaries of people who had died, unexpectedly, in their 40s and 50s and thinking, “Well, at least they had a full life”. The hubris! I used to think that slogans such as “Life begins at 40” were propaganda-type sayings meant to both soothe the aging generation preceeding me and to stimulate productivity in these old geezers. But then,it seemed,the people older than I began to change. They were no longer rulers of the porch swings, looking forward only to the early bird specials at the diner. They began to look vibrant and energetic. They were running marathons and starting businesses. They were having babies for goodness’ sake. And, I was changing as well. Slowly, I was going from being the youngest person at any gathering or in any workplace, to being one of the senior members. And I didn’t even really realize it until I began to find myself really annoyed with their tastes in music and fashion. How could anyone in their right mind choose Christina Aguilera over Led Zeppelin? And, what, did they all wash their clothes in ultra-hot water to make them shrink up 4 inches above their bellies? And the men, all those baggy pants? I used to appreciate snug…well never mind. Cultural references aside though, we weren’t much different.I have more energy now than I did as a 20-something because I no longer stay out all hours and because I take better care of myself in other ways as well.The perspective of being this age is amazing, and I imagine it will only broaden as I continue to experience and learn. It is a dichotomous experience: my perspective has broadened, but my focus is also more intense and clarified. I feel truly alive, firing on all four burners for the first time in my life. So maybe life truly does begin at 40. Only now, I am reading that it begins at 60. Hallelujah, because I don’t ever plan to retire and become a porch swing queen. And if I get the urge to travel, I’ll book my tours through Docs Without Borders. There is too much to be done in this world to stop; too many hurting people to just turn away. Claudia, there may be some unique challenges to being in your forties and embarking on this journey, but our brothers and sisters in their 30’s face their own unique set of challenges as well. Each decade of life seems to bring with it some unique challenge. I regretted for a long time that I didn’t follow this path back in my 20s, but now I am glad I didn’t because I would not have had the same breadth of experience and compassion that I now bring to the table. I imagine it is the same for you. That is not meant to belittle those younger, it is just part of the human condition that experience generates change. If we allow it. Some won’t, some can’t,but you have chosen to be proactive and really live. Good for you. I’ll give you one concrete example and then I’ll stop sharing my perspective. When I was interviewing for the volunteer position at the children’s hospital, I was cautioned to be very careful how I dealt with parents accused of abusing their children. I was instructed that I was not to treat them rudely or judgmentally, because they had received a lot of complaints that volunteers were doing just that. In my 20s, I wouldn’t have been able to control that response, my aversion would have been simple and very visible. Now, after working with all kinds of families and abusers and their children, in almost every scenario imaginable, I am different. I understand that while right and wrong are black and white, life is complex. I still can’t condone physical or emotional violence against either adults or children, but I can look at an abuser and see a broken, wrecked human being instead of a monster. I have earned the ability to do that. Now, I can hold out a hand of encouragement instead of turning a cold shoulder, and really, what is going to be more effective? Isn’t healing what we are all about? So, yes, there are 40s in here, and 50s as well, and this place is truly a treasure because of that. So, celebrate your next birthday with joy; you have earned it.
Sheryl

Calmeida,
I am a little behind in posting a reply to your question, but that is due to the fact that I am almost 55 years old and presently a third year medical student. Surgery rotation has kept me busy this week.
I remember well having the same questions as you, and the response that I remember most was when my chemistry professor asked me how old I would be 5 years from now . . . and how old would I be in 5 years if I went to medical school. His point was that if I had a dream and didn’t attempt to pursue it, I would still be five years older and wouldn’t know if I could have attained the dream.
Is it difficult? Of course it is. But it’s difficult for everyone in medical school. Is it financially possible? Well, if you want to have tons of money in the bank when you retire (if you retire), then maybe not. But, at the same time, if you’re like myself and my husband, we don’t plan on our style of living changing dramatically. We are quite comfortable without a big fancy house or an expensive car. And the loans are repayable over a long term at a low rate. If you should die before they are paid, they are forgiven and your family won’t have to worry about them.
So, don’t let money be an issue. If it is in your heart to become a physician, then go for it. Become the best physician you can!

I guess I was being way too self centered in thinking I was the only 40 something with such a dream! It is so wonderful to hear your accounts. Thank you so much for sharing.
I am so excited and can only think about the possibility - still have a long way to go regarding the pre reqs and mostly of figuring out how to pay for it. As I said, I have a lot of student loans, and MUST work to maintain my home and family responsibilities. My husband also wanted to become a nurse anesthetist, so that too will be additional student loans and time off work. So we have to figure out a way to make the numbers work.
Regardless, I am beginning to take the pre reqs, this way, once we can figure out how to make the impossible possible, I’ll be ready…
My other concern is that I live in NY and need to stay in this area, which leaves me with having to be accepted by any of the NYC schools and surrounding areas. I’m sure they are extremely competitive, and wonder if I even have a shot.
To break down my whole family, sell my house, move for medical school, I KNOW would end my marriage because we have a lot of family responsibilities that would completely fall apart. My husband is very supportive but that would be asking too much of him. Which means, were this to become something that I HAVE to do and I could not find a way to do it under the above constraints, I would also have to get a divorce and do this on my own…so there’s a lot at stake.
I was already a single parent for over 15 years, and have only been remarried since 2002, so this would take a huge tool emotionally.
I’m hoping there’s a way to figure this out. I wonder if I’m being too selfish, pursuing all these career changes. Shouldn’t I be happy with what I already have? Is this a “fancy” shouldn’t I be happy being a nurse? How much should we sacrifice for those with love - and what is the trade off for doing that?
Another side to this existential questionin is that in a way I have this “feeling” that I’m already accepted to a medical school, that it’s all going to work out, it’s just a matter of patience for everything to fall into place. I need to do my part, and the “cosmos” is doing its part.
If you knew my lifestory, this would make more sense. So much has happened that would seem impossible, and so much by happenstance. This feeling can obviously be a delusion on my part, but I like to think of it as a spiritual intuition. We’ll see who wins out.
About the nitty gritty: I’m looking at cost - about 45K a year for med school; do any of you work? I’ll be an RN and could pick up a few shifts if possible. Just cannot afford to take another 4 years off. I went to PA school and don’t think I’ll be completely crazed in the beginning of med school because I have a much better background than what I had when I went to PA school (and freaked out) Now I know a LOT about medicine, I’ll be a nurse, I already know how to perform a complete physical exam, have taken gross anatomy, had a lot of clinical med courses; hence my thinking I may be able to work part of the time.
The good thing about nursing is that I can do per diem work at the drop of a hat.
Now, this 45K is per year for 4 years, then I would do a 3 year ED residency which would be 100% paid or do I still pay money to the school? Do any of you know of any grants/scholarship websites I can start looking into? Do you know if there are any loan repayment programs for medical school as there are in nursing?
I was looking at the mean salary for an ED doc after residency, and it looks like once I got there, I could make my loan payments and live decently. I’m not doing this for the money. I LOVE medicine (so sad I only discovered this now, but as you said, I’m sure I could not have done it in my 20’s or 30’s, or even prior to PA school) That’s why I believe this is all coming together in a roundabout way. I was very insecure about my abilities, and would have NEVER considered med school prior to what I learned in PA school.
I was comfortable with becoming a PA, but then when I had to leave PA school without completing it and found the CIM job and began to work in the ED, it all seemed to come together - the nursing is also likely a way of bridging my life until med school.
So I leave you now with my more esoteric and my financial questions - I’m very glad to have found this forum. Trying to figure this all out and feeling I have to do this all on my own is very overwhelming.
Thank you again for being there -
Peace to all of you,
Claudia

Claudia, some quick answers:
1, can you work at least a little during medical school? Yes. You point out that you can pick up per diem shifts as a nurse. I had some classmates do that and I’ve heard of others. However, you need to know that even when you’ve had past experience as a nurse, in PA school, etc., med school is going to be very demanding and you should NOT count on a certain number of shifts per week, per month, or per semester. The folks I knew who did it generally worked on breaks between semesters, NOT regularly. The further you get into med school, the less time you’ll have to pick up those per diem shifts. Don’t even think about trying to do anything during your third year.
2. Yup, you’ll be in a lot of debt when you finish med school. Been there done that, got a couple of med schools t-shirts to show for it. Your current student loans can be deferred while you’re a full-time student and you’ll be able to roll them together with your med school loans after you graduate from med school in such a way that you’ll hopefully have a manageable monthly payment to make. (I’m not going to go into all the painful details of consolidation; I’m sure I’d get it wrong.)
3, you earn a salary (I think it’s technically called a “stipend”) while in residency, right now it’s anywhere from upper $30s to low $50K depending on where you are. My stipend as a second-year family medicine resident is ummmm something like $41,500 per year. That’s a fairly middle-of-the-road salary as I understand it. You can defer your medschool loans while in residency; annually you’ll be asked to complete an application for a “hardship deferment” and I’ve never heard of a resident whose application wasn’t approved.
4, there are loan repayment programs usually for primary care specialties. I don’t know if there are any programs that would apply to an emergency medicine physician.
Hope that helps!
Mary

Hello a few things, I’m in my 1st year of Med school and 41 (42 in Feb). We sold our house and Moved to England so I could attend Medical school, we have 1 13yrold son with us and I have 2 more children with my 1st wife in the states.


Due some family problems (My wife’s Father has cancer and she will go to help out and also help us by working in the states) I have transferred to the Carib for the next 16 months of Basic Sci Med school (clinicals in the states) and I will be there alone. Basicaly this is for both of us. It didn’t matter where I would go but I had to make it and do well I want to also say My wife is older than me by a few years. She is a gem and knows for me to be happy I have to do this. I also realized that Med school has left little time for anything else while I’m in and studying. There is nothing else but study time and sleep/rest. I concentrate on my studies so I learn what I need so I not only do well on the exams but learn for the USLME.





I will be in debt for 180,000 after school, I do not have to repay till after residency and since I want to be an FP in Rural area at this time there is Tuition reimbursement at least at more than 50% of this some at as much as full. If that is still there in 6 years (when I should be done both school an residency) then It should be good to go.





I have been an RN for the last 18 years and decided to do this over 3 years ago. A lot of support from my wife and knowing I will have 20 years to practice is what I’m looking at with the satisfaction of my job.





Good Luck

Claudia,
John Glenn entered space on the seriously decrepit shuttle at age 77.
Fauja Singh is still running marathons at age 94.
My bio professor, Dr. Gideon Adjei is learning to fly at age 66.
Lev Sarkison climber the K2 peak of everest at age 60.
I had a Russian professor during my undergrad who was 100 years old - he fought in WW1!
Recently, I attended a ceremony to honor Ms. Doris Brown who has been a medical missionary to Africa for more than 50 years! She is in her 80’s and doesn’t plan on quitting any time soon.
My pal Greg just finished his fellowship in Electrophysiology at the age of 46.
Finally, there is a 100 year-old woman in California who just renewed her drivers license for 5 more years. She is a nurse who volunteers (at Loma Linda, I think).
So, if one were to take the inverse of these persons as an example, you are way too young to go to medical school. Think about it in another 30 years or so.
Blessings,
jeffc

I recently did a mock med school interview at my university’s career center. The guy who interviewed me has a brother who applied 5 times before he got into Mizzou Med. He is a doctor now. Obviously he was an OPM by the time he got in, and was unusually persistent. Also, the guy that interviewed me is older than me, I estimate him to be in his 50’s, and he is going to apply to med school soon! Kind of makes me feel better being a reapplicant at the old age of 32.

Hell, at 39 & more pounds than I care to admit - I started working out again…I have things that hurt that I did not even know I had!!!

Hi, all…It’s been quite some time since I posted last. Working full-time & going to school part-time has a way of cutting down on your “fun” time. Thought I’d chime in with my two cents of encouragement.
“Too old” is when you’re dead. I’m 49 (50 next month) and I’m doing my pre-meds. When I am finally able to quit work and go to school full-time (next year, I hope), I’ll probably still have 2 full years left in order to finish my undergrad. My husband thinks I’m crazy, stupid, delusional. He’s certain that I’ll never make it to med school. In fact, he tells every one I’m studying to be a nurse. Regardless of my lack of spousal support, I have no doubt that I WILL be a doctor. I love being back in school. I’ve discovered that I’m very spatially oriented - hence, my struggle in chemistry, and my ease in biology. I’m not concerned with becoming rich. Heck, even as a resident, I’ll be rich by my current standards. And the joy I’ve discovered in volunteering at my local hospital has shown me that if it wasn’t for needing to support my family and meet my financial obligations, I’d practice medicine for free.
I don’t know about anyone else here, but I’m having the time of my life. Until I started down this road, my life consisted of working (staff accountant - read: NOT CPA, NOT CPA-candidate, NOT degreed accountant; therefore, NOT paid much) and being home with hubby and son (he’s 16 now). There was no real direction in my life, no joy. I let what went on around me dictate my life. Until I read “The Dreamgiver” by Bruce Wilkinson. That’s when I realized that the dream I’d had in my heart since I was a kid, wasn’t just wishful thinking - it was put there by God. And a dream put in your heart by God is a dream that can (and SHOULD) be realized. So, I took that first step, and I can’t imagine that I’ll ever regret it. I may question my sanity at times, but the joy in my life is immense, even when I’m taking a subject that I hate or have a “teacher” that should be doing anything BUT teach. I just keep telling myself: this, too, shall pass; I shall pass, as well; and I shall become a doctor.
Don’t give up hope. Don’t give up your dream.
Best Wishes!!
Lisa

Hi Lisa!
Welcome!
I’m sorry your husband is not very supportive, but we will be! Someone here has “been there” and “done that” for probably every thing you can think of.
Also, be sure to look at Mary Renard’s history (you can find a link on any of her posts), and Natalie Belle is a resident surgeon who could also direct you to some motivational posts. And, of course Old Man Dave, and many others who jumped in the game later on in their 40’s and 50’s.
Everyone emphasized to me when I joined, that this race is a marathon, not a sprint, and you should enjoy the journey.
Good luck!

Quote:

Hi, all…It’s been quite some time since I posted last. Working full-time & going to school part-time has a way of cutting down on your “fun” time. Thought I’d chime in with my two cents of encouragement.
“Too old” is when you’re dead. I’m 49 (50 next month) and I’m doing my pre-meds. When I am finally able to quit work and go to school full-time (next year, I hope), I’ll probably still have 2 full years left in order to finish my undergrad. My husband thinks I’m crazy, stupid, delusional. He’s certain that I’ll never make it to med school. In fact, he tells every one I’m studying to be a nurse. Regardless of my lack of spousal support, I have no doubt that I WILL be a doctor. I love being back in school. I’ve discovered that I’m very spatially oriented - hence, my struggle in chemistry, and my ease in biology. I’m not concerned with becoming rich. Heck, even as a resident, I’ll be rich by my current standards. And the joy I’ve discovered in volunteering at my local hospital has shown me that if it wasn’t for needing to support my family and meet my financial obligations, I’d practice medicine for free.
I don’t know about anyone else here, but I’m having the time of my life. Until I started down this road, my life consisted of working (staff accountant - read: NOT CPA, NOT CPA-candidate, NOT degreed accountant; therefore, NOT paid much) and being home with hubby and son (he’s 16 now). There was no real direction in my life, no joy. I let what went on around me dictate my life. Until I read “The Dreamgiver” by Bruce Wilkinson. That’s when I realized that the dream I’d had in my heart since I was a kid, wasn’t just wishful thinking - it was put there by God. And a dream put in your heart by God is a dream that can (and SHOULD) be realized. So, I took that first step, and I can’t imagine that I’ll ever regret it. I may question my sanity at times, but the joy in my life is immense, even when I’m taking a subject that I hate or have a “teacher” that should be doing anything BUT teach. I just keep telling myself: this, too, shall pass; I shall pass, as well; and I shall become a doctor.
Don’t give up hope. Don’t give up your dream.
Best Wishes!!
Lisa


Hi Lisa,
Good for you! That’s really what it’s all about for me too. I’m 41 now, will be 42 when I apply this summer, and have been slogging through 2.5 years of pre-med classes, regaining an EMT-B and full-time work (sole family supporter) and of course my wife and 2 kids (who are grown and nearly grown).
I’m sorry to hear about your husband not supporting you, but if you are anything like me, that will give you more incentive than ever. As an example of that, when I first made the decision to do this (I woke up one morning at the beginning of the year I was turning 40 and said "there is no freaking way I am going to wake up like this 10 years from now and still be a computer programmer - it’s time to finally get this dream in motion), there was a guy at work who is upper level management. The funny thing is, he is actually about 3 months younger than me and looks about 10 years older. Comes from old money back in New England and is a nice guy, but very conservative, old-school type. I told him I was going to get into med school (when I started out, I was infused with so much energy from the decision, that I was telling everyone what I was doing), and he shook his head and laughed. He said "I’m not laughing AT you, I’m laughing WITH you."
As silly as this sounds, since I really don’t give 2 f*cks what he or anyone else at work thinks about what I am doing with my life, that one statement stayed with me all this time and is one of the many (albeit very small) motivators I have had to keep me moving through all the pre-med sacrifices it’s been necessary to make in my life. He’s still with the company, and after I get accepted to all the schools I plan on getting accepted to, I plan on emailing him and thanking him for his small part in the whole thing, by helping put another challenge in front of me that motivated me.
I absolutely agree with your philosophy about the direction of your life being full of purpose that is directed. I personally don’t call it “God,” but it’s the same end result as what I think you are talking about. I think that coming back into medicine for me, now that I am really mature enough and ready to undertake the committment it will require, is my way of (for the rest of my life) really being able to do something positive about the human condition. I can’t think of anything that would be more effective than this, and even if I could, it wouldn’t matter, because this is my calling too, and has been for over 15 years. I’m just finally now able to do something about it.
Best of luck to you, and I look forward to hearing how things develop in your story.
Sam