Good morning!

I’m a 28 year old woman, currently working as a dietitian.  I work with a gastroenterologist as a nutrition support dietitian in an adult oncology setting.  I find my profession rewarding, but am always wishing for more…if that makes sense.  I am very seriously considering pursuing med school, which would mean taking a few pre-reqs over the next year or so.  I have both a BS and MS in nutrition/dietetics and board certifications in nutrition support and oncology.  My undergrad education consisted of bio, chem, micro, physiology, biochem, stats, and several other standard gen-eds. I believe all that I am “technically” missing is physics and calc.  I could probably retake a few others for both refreshment and grade improvement.  My graduate education included mostly public health and advanced nutrition courses, as well as a thesis.  What do you advise as my next step?

I could take both physics and calc at the local community college, as well as organic chem and anatomy.  I have discussed my interest with one of the oncologists I work with who was very encouraging.  The gastroenterologist thinks I’m too old…haha. Â

Thanks! Looking forward to discussion

Hi Beterraba,

I’m still in the post-bacc phase, so I’ve not yet technically been successful, but a few things I do know for sure:

  1. That gastroenterologist is just and old fart.

    Regardless of whether you’re 24 (like me), 28 or 58, the circumstances specific to your life will determine if this career change is a good fit for you.

    Do you have a family to consider? Do you have savings? Are you willing to cozy up to a textbook most Friday nights rather than a beer? (Truthfully, sometimes I choose both.)

  2. The rule is, take classes at the best school you can, and ace em. There are a lot of elements that rule disregards-cost being one of them. But I would advise against taking all courses at a cc. Some people argue that you can take classes at cc’s so long as you’re confident they’ll prepare you well enough for the MCAT. I say, keep in mind that the two most important factors are GPA (ie, grades) and MCAT.

  3. Your other questions about if its necessary to repeat courses, and/or skip advanced electives is something I’m also struggling with. They say factors should include the length of time that’s lapsed (some Med Schools won’t even accept coursework taken a few years ago), how it will affect your MCAT prep, etc. I’ll leave this one up to the experts.

  4. You already have advantages in your application-you’re more stable than an 18-19 year old, you have healthcare experience, and you can probably get great recommendations from people in the healthcare industry. Just make sure your record going forward reflects the notion that you’ve discovered your precise passion, and that you’re all in!

    Good luck!

Thanks! I think the GI doc also doesn’t want to lose me…we work really well together.

I am hopeful that my current career will help me. I plan to continue working in my current role when pursuing my pre-reqs.

As for textbooks vs. beer…i already work another part time job and barely have any “beer” time as it is :). I am married, but no kids. We do have a mortgage and savings, enough to pay for pre-reqs and supplement my husband’s income for awhile, but not enough for med school. Most likely loans for me

On the CC subject, it’s important to note that you’re in Illinois. For all the other things this hell hole of a state has wrong with it, we’ve been blessed with having some of the best CC programs in the country. Yeah, I don’t get it either, but there ya go.

I have a question about the “expiration” of pre-requisite courses. Could you please give some information as to where that is written? I was told the same thing by someone on this forum and since have been trying to find information about how long the courses are valid for and I simply can’t find it anywhere. I even looked at the med school pages and the only thing I can find is that it is best to take them at your degree-granting institution, rather than cc, but even then, if they were taken to satisfy a requirement, they could be acceptable. I took my courses a while ago, aced all of them, so I am not sure why I should re-take them.

Everywhere that I have applied to doesn’t seem to have that limit as well, unless it is unwritten.

Now I have heard that limit for PA and Nursing programs.

I think I came across the age of prereqs on a couple of school specific website, but it isn’t a hard and fast rule - some schools want recent course work but not specifically the prereqs, others don’t care at all and some want recent prereqs. The only way to know for sure is to call the schools you are interested in and talk to them about the age of your prereqs and see what they say. I wouldn’t ignore it because the school that you really want to go to may be in the “recent” camp, so call and ask.

For what its worth - I retook all my prereqs because mine were 20 yrs old, my grades were mediocre and it was a good way to refresh for the MCAT. Biology had changed tremendously since I took it in undergrad so I feel its really important to take some fresh biology courses (not necessarily prereqs) if yours are more than 7-8 yrs old.

Thanks for that information. I did end up contacting the schools I am interested in and was told the following by one of them:

“Prerequisite coursework does not expire, per se; however the longer it has been since you’ve been in the classroom, the less competitive it is seen as. However, since you have been working on a masters and a PhD after that initial coursework (meaning you have not been out of the academic realm itself for 15 years), you are in a different category than someone who has not been in school at all for 15 years.”

I was somewhat encouraged by the fact that they recognized the education I completed after my BS and the consideration they would give it.

Definitely do contact schools you are planning on applying to and find out what they look for.

I’m going to take my time to plan this right. I think I’ll

A) contact the schools I’m interested in

B) figure out what classes I could/should start with at the cc

C) get a’s and destroy the MCAT


I’m in a post-bacc program in Chicago; I’m in my mid-30’s and had not taken ANY of the required science classes when I started (as was the case with most of my fellow post-bacc’s). Not only have you fulfilled almost all the core classes, you’ve done a few of the recommended electives as well!

If it’s something you want to do, I wouldn’t think twice. Assuming you guys can afford it, etc. Your age should be the least of your concerns. Good luck!

I got my transcripts sent to me…it appears I skipped bio2 and went straight onto micro…I also took only orgo and not chem 1&2. So…I’d probably need to take those and maybe then physics? Hmmm.

My main concerns (as well as my husbands) are financial. Not that I couldn’t take loans…but what about bills, insurance, etc? Ay tips/tricks, aside from winning the lottery or finding a pirate treasure?

I’m also in a formal post-bac in the Chicago area, on my own (no spouse/significant other), and living completely on loans. It CAN be done. Your loans can be used for both tuition and for living expenses (i.e., utility bills, rent/mortgage, etc.).

Since you already have a degree, your access to government loans is limited. I got $12,500 from the federal governement for each year, in total, which was not nearly enough to cover tuition and living expenses. So you would have to take out private loans (which I did, and will be doing again for the upcoming school year). This is not the most desirable thing, as those interest rates are variable, but I believe that it is worth it in my situation. Not everyone may agree, but as with everything in this journey, “it depends.”

Best wishes to you!

Btw, not sure how much you have read on here regarding CC’s, but I believe the general consensus is to avoid taking core classes there, if you can. Sometimes that’s not an option, I know, but I’ve seen quite a few posts regarding the topic.

Yes I have seen the same regarding cc…maybe I can take a few of the lower level classes at the cc, then take the rest at a 4 year school.

Take all the core classes you want at a CC as long you are staying in IL (or CA). Just throw in an upper level science class or two to remove any doubt about your ability to handle the more rigorous science and you’ll be perfectly fine.