Pastor to Physician?

I have been a pastor for nearly 11 years. I am considering going back to school (eventually) with hopes of becoming a doctor. I love the opportunities I have had to help people through my pastoral ministry, but would love to be able to do more for people. I have always had an interest in medicine, but didn’t pursue it as an option until now.

I have a B.A. in Pastoral Ministry. I am anticipating going back to school to get a B.S. degree because I don’t think a post-bacc course would work for me. I didn’t have much science, and no math in college.

Is this a realistic goal? I am 33 years old by the way.


I certainly think it is realistic.

Many schools would look favorably upon your humanitarianism. As long as you are able to master the sciences you should get in.

Age is not a concern, as many people have started older than you. Take your time, make sure you like the science behind the medicine, and get good grades.


Actrually I think a post-bacc would work extremely well for you; most are designed for students with little background in science. There is no need to have another degree in hard science in order to achieve medical school. Also, the math requirement is slipping at most medical schools, though to do well in basic science a strong foundation in Algebra and perhaps Trig (pre-calc) would be very useful. The science on the MCAT is basic. If you feel that you would like more education in science, you would be better supplement your Post-Bacc with a few upper-level Biology courses. You, in fact, do not need a formal post-bacc. I am simply taking course at a state university as a non-matriculating student.

And BTW, at 33 you are a relative child in this group. I am 47 and trying (yes, I said Forty-seven, that ain’t a typo).

As You well know the good lord helps those who help themselves, so go find out what you really need and you will suprised that you will graduated from medical school and in residency before you turn forty!

Thus endth the sermon (sorry, couldn’t resist)

Anything I can help with, just drop me a line

Oh, being with you being in indiana, you might find that our conference in chicago is easily accessible and full of information and motivation (Hey, I gotta make my sales pitch)

Found one!

MD/MDiv or MD/MTS …

Maybe something you might be interested in as well?

  • croooz Said:
Found one!

MD/MDiv or MD/MTS ...

Maybe something you might be interested in as well?

Now, that is very interesting. I like that! I had been thinking about getting my MDiv, and with a program like that I could get my MD as well. Absolutely cool!

Just me being nosey here:

Where in Indiana do you call home?

I’m originally from the area up north near Lafayette.

Welcome to OPM! I think that a pastor could be an awsome physician.


Hey there RevGood (I like the name),

Honestly any monkey can figure out the physiology, anatomy, and yes! even math involved in medicine. What medical schools and residency programs are looking for is the humanity behind the brains… because caring for people is about so much more than knowing the science of what is wrong with their bodies.

You, my friend, are waaaaaaay ahead of the curve on this through your current vocation. Your life experience in ministry will help you gain insights into your patients’ lives and suffering that the rest of us really struggle to figure out.

I agree with those who say that you don’t need another degree. I had classmates who were music, classics, and art history majors. Just like everybody else, you need the prerequisites.


First, welcome to the group. I think you’ll find a nice community here.

I agree that a new degree isn’t necessary. I also agree that an M.Div and an MD together would be a great combination; my school has at least one person doing this this year, probably more over the next few years.

I wouldn’t trivialize the difficulty of this, but the point is not to after-load the preparation (which would be the effect of getting a Bs–you’d get the pre-reqs done and then have to keep going and going) but to pre-load.

In other words, put your energy not into finishing courses after your pre-reqs (although some additional courses and exposure to scientific research can be great for your education and your med school application), but in getting prepared before them, in a couple of different ways. Here are some ideas about how to do this:

  1. Make sure you know what you’re getting into. Before even starting spend some time with doctors, if you haven’t already. You may well be in a position to do some hospital work now as a chaplain, if you’re not already. This is a great way to get to know patients and get a sense for how they’re dealing with medical problems. But, think about how you might start to leverage that into working more closely with doctors. For you I might suggest finding a way to sit in on a palliative care team’s meetings, or hospice staff meetings, or an ICU team’s rounds, explaining that you want to learn more and that you’re not sure whether you’re learning more for pastoring, or more for doctoring, but either way it will be helpful to you (and to your parishioners).

  2. Work on your math skills. I could have done more of this before I started and I would have been better off. At any rate, I realized that I didn’t even remember for sure how to multiply fractions, much less solve for x and y. There are lots of workbooks available (I found mine at a technical bookstore) which are directed to adults and which you can use. I still have my algebra workbook, tattered and with my pencil-written answers and erasures all through it. More than anything this workbook represents my pride in how far I’ve come. You can do this, if you can apply regular diligence to the task.

  3. Get your community behind you. By this I don’t mean your parishioners necessarily–for now, at least, they want you to be a pastor, and it’s your job to be their pastor. But make sure you’ve talked to all the folks who are important in your life about this decision; ask them what they think about your reasoning. Don’t expect them all to be encouraging; some will be outright discouraging. Listen carefully to their reasons while trying to put your defensiveness aside. There may be some pearls of wisdom in there, or there may not be, but you need to listen with an open enough heart that if they are there you’ll hear them. Most importantly, getting a little team of people who are supporting you through this will both help you get through the tough parts, and also will help you to be accountable to other people when you think about giving up.

    Good luck!


More schools have dual degrees but it’s not advertised more like understood. Vanderbilt’s is no different than any other dual degree in that you apply to both programs and then have to get accepted to both. Turns out some medical schools are very open to the idea you just have to ask and see.

Welcome, RevGood!

I was talking to the pre-health advisement office at my school today, and I randomly asked about the highest recent MCAT score from UCF. Turns out it was from a non-trad former minister who’s now MS4 and is evidently the nicest guy in the world.

Well, I am doing precisely what you are asking about and I can share with you some of the pro’s and con’s. I have been a full-time student for 3 years now, earning a second B.S. degree because my 1st degree came from a bible college and I had no real science background.

Previously I have been a missionary and church planter.

I took the MCAT last go-round and did poorly (26N) and have an O.K. gpa (3.5). So I am re-taking the MCAT this summer and will re-apply and include the osteopathic schools which I didn’t previously.

I will graduate from Univ. of Houston Spring '08 and hope to get in somewhere this time. When I 1st took the MCAT I didn’t have organic Chem, biochem or physics II so I should do better this time. Also, my GPA has improved.

I work with a humanitarian NGO now, and will be in China in July of this year for a medical project. I also work part-time in an infectious disease lab. I will be 41 this year.

Blessings to you and I hope you make the leap!


I would love to hear more about the transition to pursuing medicine. What prompted you? How did your family/church react?