On the edge

Any and all input would be appreciated as I stand perched to quit my job in which I have excelled and risen in the corporate world (and salary structure) over the last 10 years. Other than my spouse, I haven’t spoken a word of my thoughts to friends or family in fear that they will tell me the truth- that I am crazy and should not be leaving a successful career to go back to school (post bac work of all things with the hope of getting into med school). Or that embarking on such an endeavor while my spouse just starts his business or my children are still in school is insane. I can’t explain why studying medicine seems so important or even feasible at 36. I do know it has been something I have wanted to do since I was 20 and didn’t do because I placed my “family first”. Funny, because I don’t think I am now placing them second, instead I think I could balance both better at my current age, then I could have at 25. I think I’m ready but I don’t know the reality. A reality check from someone who has been there would be helpful. Don’t be gentle- tell me like it is. Thanks!

If you are looking to be talked out of this adventure or to be discouraged, you’re in the wrong place. This is an electronic family full of dreamers - those who aspire to become physicians. We come from all walks of life, span a full gamut of professions, socio-economic status, races, creeds, nationalities & sexual orientations. I would proffer that we’re a pretty damned representative cross-section of the general populace. What do we have in common? The drive & self-confidence to follow a different path.

Welcome to OPM!

Your story sounds very familiar, with one exception. I’m currently the sole breadwinner for my family. Years ago, when our kids were very young, we decided the best thing for them would be for my wife to be a stay at home mom. At 37, while making a nice salary, I told my wife I wanted to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a physician. She thought I was nuts! That was five years ago. I am still working on prereqs (only three classes left),but my desire to achieve that goal is stronger now than it was back then. Patience has been a virtue, balancing work, family, and school has been a challenge. Now at 42, it looks like I’ll be 45 when I actually start med school. We still have to work out finances, my wife will have to go back to work full-time, and other unforseen challenges will have to be dealt with as they come up. Even with all the issues we have to face, I am the happiest I have ever been. Prereq courses have been great (of course I haven’t had organic yet, so that may change in a year), and I eagerly anticipate each new step in the process.
The key to success in my situation has been communication. My wife’s world was turned upside down. If I had it my way, back when I started in 2000, I would be in my third year of med school this year. Instead, I’m taking it slowly, my wife and I talk about each step, and I am going at a pace that is comfortable for the whole family. She has seen my commitment and is now behind me 100%. The whole family is in it together, and I believe that’s the only way to make it work.
This is more information than you probably wanted, or is even helpful, but I just wanted to let you know about my situation and that even though it is a long, slow, difficult process, there is nothing better than being able to commit to the pursuit of a lifelong dream and watch it unfold into reality.
This is an awesome forum that I have become addicted to. It is great to read about and learn from other’s experiences. Everyone is extremely friendly, helpful, and supportive.
I say go for it!

I think you would be surprised at how supportive your family and friends may become. Also, many post-bacc programs are structured so that you can continue working (and putting away that corporate salary). This allows you to prepare you and your family for the long road of medical school and residency where your finances and lifestyle may change dramatically.
I’ve found that once my family and friends saw the sacrifices I had to make in order to work full time and complete the post-bacc courses as well as they enthusiasm I maintained for the endeavor, they became even more supportive.
Outside your close friends and family, “coming out” as an older premed has its own set of ups and downs. Some people will be very supportive and “impressed” by your decision. Others will just be baffled. And there are many (even some within the medical profession) who will actively discourage you from the the pursuit. I believe most of the detractors have good intentions, so you have to be confidant enough in your own reasons that you don’t let this discourage or anger you.
I’ve found that the most important (and challenging) aspect of my life in the world of working premeds has been time management. Suddenly, everything becomes a careful negotiation of time. Do you take out the garbage and miss out on fifteen minutes of studying before that morning meeting, or do you let the house stink and your spouse fume and get in that fifteen minutes? Do you grab McDonald’s and study through lunch or do you make a healthy lunch and work out? Do you take the day off from work so you can be sure to get good sleep and extra studying for the exam, or do you save this day for some quality time with family and friends? The working premed (and most likely med student or resident) lives in the world of these decisions. After a while, it just becomes natural and you and your family adapt.
If you can reach deep within and be sure about your desire to become a doctor, then you shouldn’t let age or anything else stand in your way.
As far as the family goes, I read this from a post on another forum and thought it was apropos:
"When starting this whole process of becoming a doctor late in life, just be sure you invite your family along for the ride rather than opening the door and just shoving them in."
Good luck! Whatever happens in the end, the experience alone will be something you will remember fondly.

Hey! Welcome, I’m 41 and in Med school. I moved my family to England, sold a house and left a career as an RN behind. Yes It can be done! So some people will not understand, trust me they never will. Whats important is, is this what you want? If it is go for it! I do not regret on second of what I’ve have done. Don’t worry so much about your family if they love you they will come around. Good Luck

Well, I gotta tell you…
You’re crazy…
Welcome to the club…
As Dave said we’re a regular family of lunatics around here… I quit a lucrative career for this endeavor as well… I start medical school this Fall…
People tend to come around… my father was my biggest critic when I decided to do this… now he’s one of my biggest supporters…of course he still has some reservations, but don’t we all? Let your family know what you’re doing… they may be disappointed or confused or even downright mad… or they may be like my mom… who surprisingly said to me… “well, it’s about time”.
we’re here for you if you need us,
Crazy Cousin Andrea


People tend to come around… my father was my biggest critic when I decided to do this… now he’s one of my biggest supporters…of course he still has some reservations, but don’t we all? Let your family know what you’re doing… they may be disappointed or confused or even downright mad… or they may be like my mom… who surprisingly said to me… “well, it’s about time”.

Same here. My dad has gone from “You’re crazy” to “When are you applying?” It might have something to do with a very cute little granddaughter that he’s hoping to see more often if I get into his local med school. But he’s taking me seriously, perhaps since I’ve demonstrated my interest by actually taking the required science courses.

I am also doing very well career-wise, both in terms of salary and position. Although it has been a bit of a challenge for me and the company I work for, I have not had to quit my job to take pre-med classes (although by the end of each semester I am telling myself I’m going to quit). You should check into evening and weekend programs in your area if you haven’t already.
I wouldn’t worry too much about “coming out.” I think you’ll find most people are curious and/or supportive. Parents are the difficult ones, but even mine got over it. If you’re concerned just tell people you’re “taking classes.” That’s my official position with most of my coworkers.
Just to make sure you talk to your spouse about what they’re getting into. This decision impacts both of you. Not only will they have to put up with your lack of availability (even when you’re home), rants about organic chemistry and your stress levels during exams. They will have to pick up the slack when you make the taking out the trash/flossing your teeth(a choice I made this morning)/making dinner vs studying trade-offs that DC_Chad mentioned. It’s one thing to provide emotional support, it’s another to be stuck doing most of the housework. Maybe with a stay at home spouse this isn’t such a big deal, but it is in my house. Also, if you can’t get into a medical school in your area, you may want to discuss whether they’d be willing to move and to where.
That said, have fun but buckle up! It’s a fast and bumpy ride.