Non-science background?

This is a wonderful board … definitely a change from the Student Dr. board.
I'm in my mid-30s with a Ph.D. in history, and have been thinking about medical school as a career change. Science was my love as a kid, but I was turned off to it in junior high (long story and a long time ago). After much soul searching, I keep coming back to my old love of science (my outside interests have long been reading about nutrition, neurology, and disease, and volunteer teaching in an environmental school).
I was thinking of volunteering at a hospital this summer, and then, if that goes well, taking some prereq classes this fall to see if I can do the work.
One concern is my Ph.D. and admissions–will it be a turnoff to committees? (It shows commitment and dedication, but on the flip side, it's not related to medicine, and may make them think i'm a dilettante. Truth is, I haven't been enjoying my discipline for several years, don't want to teach it, and just plowed through because i could never figure out what else to do. Hence, lots of career counseling and assessments later … here I am. This isn't a very pretty or tidy story.)
Has anyone (esp. old pre meds) come to prereqs and then med school from a non-scientific background and had success? I'm also considering nursing or physician's assistant work.

I come from a music and entertainment background. Is that far removed enough for you? rolleyes.gif
You seem to have a good plan of attack. I think that you are mature enough to see that it won’t be easy, but that it will be something you want to do.
If you need help, someone is always on the board to answer your questions and provide some insight to what you are doing.
best of Luck… smile.gif

I was a travel writer and magazine editor in my last incarnation. Before that I studied philosophy and literature, and in between went through a series of variously miserable, short lived careers that all involved the proverbial beige cubicle. I actually loved travel writing when I finally got to that, but I never really felt like it was going to lead to anything especially meaningful. I haven't yet applied to medical schools, so unfortunately I can't be much help as far as how admissions committees look at a humanities background.
One thing though, is that I wish I hadn't waited as long as I did to start the science pre-reqs. I'm 30 now, and I started two years ago, after a lot of debating. Finally one summer I just jumped in and took General Chem. I thought for sure I'd bomb out right away, and that would be the end of that, but instead, all went well and I loved it! It's been that way ever since. Personally, I think that if you have had this interest for a long time and want to test the waters, you should think about taking a summer class. Volunteering is also a good idea, but getting some academics underway is really important.
You know, I noticed your comment about being perceived as a dilletante, which is something I've worried about too. But keep in mind that the pre-med curriculum itself is very dilletantish. In two or so years it covers everything from ecology to quantum mechanics. Medicine requires versatility, and that's one of its appeals for many people. When compared to the average med school applicant, your variety of interests will probably not seem as unusual as you might think.
Anyway, good luck!

I had to remember how to multiply fractions before starting chemistry.
There are many people with non-science backgrounds. I think your background is a strength. But even if it wasn't, don't worry about what admissions committees want you to have been, since you can't do anything about what has already occurred. The only thing you can influence is what happens next. The answer to your implicit question is, yes, you can go to medical school. Now comes the hard part: doing it.
Good luck.

Futrfysician, thanks for the encouragement! Yes, I agree that music/entertainment is quite a switch. What a great accomplishment. I’ve been trying to glean info from this board about how to proceed, and it’s been really helpful in terms of setting a path.
2ndave, I understand about the travel writing and editing—I’ve done some editing along the way (albeit more low-level than what you did) but also didn’t feel that spark that would encourage me to make it my life. Your point about getting moving academically makes sense, and I’ll look around for a summer course. Also, from now on I’ll think in terms of “versatility” and its positive connnotations. thanks!
Joewright—I hear you. After researching medical school and reading this board for a while, I have come to a deep respect (awe, actually) for oldpremeds who go into medicine. The path looks so arduous (and I thought the dissertation was a long process ….!) I don’t know if I’m capable to making the transition myself, but I can at least give it a shot with the prereqs. And yes, I’ll have to review my fractions too.
Thanks for all the advice,

If you look at my sign off, you can tell I’ve been in arts, publishing, and education before starting the premed courses. A BFA and MFA hollers “fine arts”… I’m starting med school in August (nonetheless) laugh.gif !
It boils down to your latest courses…
Do well in your premed courses, join us here, and apply to school. The PhD is a feather in your cap…you KNOW you can do the work if you pour yourself into it. They’ll know it too.
Good luck!

I understand about the travel writing and editing—I’ve done some editing along the way (albeit more low-level than what you did)

I'm afraid to tell you, that last part would be hard. biggrin.gif I'm not sure you could get much lower level than many of my numerous assistant-type jobs!
Well, good luck, and keep us posted on what you decide!

Hi Mary,
Congratulations on your admission to med school! Thanks for the info on your background. It helps to know there’s an artistic contingent successfully transitioning and thriving in this field.
2nDave, i’ve been in a few beige cubicles in my life (temped my way through college), so I know whereof you speak! Good luck as you work toward med school.
And to the people who keep up this board–thank you!

QUOTE (MaeMo @ May 6 2003, 09:29 PM)
Hi Mary,
Congratulations on your admission to med school! Thanks for the info on your background. It helps to know there's an artistic contingent successfully transitioning and thriving in this field.

MaeMo, thanks!
Along the way I've heard of or met...
...a cellist from Juillard who was accepted at Yale. (Heard about her at an AMSA conference)
...a modern dancer from NYC who went to UVa and is now 10 yrs post-residency. (He and his family go to the same pool as we do).
...a sign designer/painter who is now the chairperson of Maternal-Fetal medicine at a Pennsylvania hospital. (I got to do some research with him).
...a former teacher who became a pipe organ restorer/repairer --- think of big church organs --- who is now in residency in New York. (He went to school with my brother).
...a violinist turned doctor; much respected for ALL of his work. (He's got a great practice and teaches in Princeton).
My own doctor had a masters and a PhD before going to Penn for her MD....she's great.
So feather in your cap that you've already earned a PhD! You'll stick out from the pile of applications if you have a decent post-bacc/premed GPA (in order to make the first cut) and you gain more clinical experience or volunteering.
Go for it 'n' good luck!
Mary (Pa ---> Va!)
And she did some time in a beige cubicle for a few years when she worked at Rodale. Thankfully, she had the tall walls... rolleyes.gif

Med schools value broadly educated applicants!

My degree is in Criminal Justice/Political Science with a minor in Philosophy. Complete non-“physical” science major but start med school in August! Just thought I’d share.