newb says hello

What’s up everyone? I’m 40 and found this site by googling “too old for medical school”

Thank god.

There is a lot of great info and support in just one thread that I read so far!

I am recovering from “science phobia” by taking the math/chemistry and biological lab courses I freaked myself out of as a young person. At this rate I will probably be MCAT ready within two to three years!

At this point I am not sure though, whether med school or an FNP program is a better fit. I am also concerned about the apparent “impossibility” of getting useful volunteer experience in a clinical setting which most med schools seem to require but that HIPA restrictions seem to prevent for the “casual volunteer.”

Any advice along these lines is greatly appreciated.

Benjamin McPherson

Santa Cruz CA

b.a. politics UCSC 1999

a.s. biology Cabrillo College 1990

currently at Cabrillo taking microbiology!

working as flight attendant based in SFO


Hi Benjamin,

First of all, welcome to OPM! I’m glad you have found this site – it’s been a big help to me as well.

I wanted to address your volunteering question. I believe that there are actually quite a few ways for you to get good (medical) volunteer experience. A lot of hospitals have established volunteering programs that do allow you to interact with patients. I would recommend looking into those in your area – just call the local hospitals and ask what kinds of volunteering options they have.

Another option is finding a free clinic and volunteering there (that’s what I have done). My experience is that they really NEED the help more, therefore you have the chance to DO more there. For example, I’m a medical Spanish interpreter – and I interpret for all kinds of situations. Pap smears, physical exams, ultrasounds, EKGs, diabetes check-ups, etc. People who don’t speak another language still have plenty of other patient-contact opportunities such as doing intakes, working at the front desk, etc.

If you live in an urban area, or near one, I would recommend looking into that kind of opportunity – I have found it incredibly rewarding, and have learned so much already.

Best wishes to you!

If there are any major hospitals, academic medical centers near you, you could try the ER …many use “scribes” that help with history taking and other work. Also, any free clinics in your area would probably have various things that a volunteer could do. Try to find something that you connect with.


Re FNP - bear in mind you are talking nursing school (3-4 years to get BSN) and minimum 2 years for an FNP program. Question may involve what settings you want to practice in and level of detail you are interested in knowing/studying, and finally what scope of problems you wish to be able to address.