People think I'm nuts....

…and maybe I am.

I’m 44. I have been a software engineer for the last 15 years. I have a BS in Civil Engineering, that I also got late in life, as I just wasn’t ready for college till my mid-20s. Now…I want to be a doctor.

I may have it easier than some. I never married, no kids. I managed for years to not get myself in a pile of debt, living simple, and now looking at my options.

It seems like my engineering degree takes care of a lot of pre-reqs, though I read here that they may have been too long ago. I guess it depends on the school. I know that I still need biology and organic chemistry, so it’s going to be a while before I can apply.

I know there are some linked undergrad programs that are tied to medical schools? I’ve had trouble finding much about them. I was just planning on taking classes at the local CC in order get the classes under my belt. Trying to read what I can about what I need to apply. I’d be very grateful for any other sites to read (this one is great though), or books you’d recommend on getting ready to apply for a school. I’d definitely like to know more about non-traditional programs if you think they would help my situation.

The whole thing is daunting of course. Just the thought of completing the prerequisits, doing medical school, residency (I was thinking of being an anesthesiologist), and not getting out till I’m over 50 seems completely nuts at times, and the most exciting thing I could ever do the next.

So. Are they right? Am I nuts? I’ve been called it more than a few times over my life…


I am in a similar situation… I am married with 2 young kids and a third due in February.

I have a career and my wife stays at home with the kids.

YES YOU ARE NUTS. But, you are not alone. Since you live simply and within your means, I would assume that your goal is a more fullfilling career, a more challenging career, or a combination of the two.

The question is not whether you are nuts… but whether you are willing to sacrifice the comfort of the present, for the promise of tomorrow.

For me, the answer is yes, and I have committed myself to endure the sacrifices necessary to achieve the dream.

Will you be kicking yourself at 50 for not having taken action now? Nothing worthwhile is easy… you just have to know yourself well enough to decide what you are willing to lose now in order to gain later.

Good luck!

people call me nuts too and i’m only 33! if you have a dream, go for it!

if u go on, it will give you lots of info on different programs. sounds like a post-bac program might be for you… aamc and amcas has info on all the US post-bac programs.

good luck!


I would say that if you are thinking about it and taking the time to gain opinions of others, you must have the urge to at least strongly consider it. You have a couple of things going for you that others do not. You don’t have the responsibility of marriage or children.

Though I would not trade my wife for nothing, I believe for you this is an assett. This gives you more time and control over this marathon that is preparing for medical school.

One other thing, what if people told Henry Ford he was nuts, and he listened to them? Or how many others from our great past that no doubtedly were ridiculed and made fun of? What if all these people just quit because of what others said?

You can do this. Will it be easy? No. But if you have the desire and will, I would go for it full steam ahead. But in doing so, remember that this is a marathon and not a race. Best of luck to you, and I hope you keep us informed of your progress!! This is a great community for folks like us, and the informationa and support here is endless!!

I wouldn’t say I was so much getting the opinions of others. More like telling them this is what I’m going to do. It’s usually when people say I’m nuts. Actually, my family has only had positive things to say. My sister has always wanted to be an RN, and let raising a family keep her from it. She still talks about it, and she has been the most positive about me doing it. She does part-time patient acting for the second year med students nearby, so interacts with them a lot. Her opinion is that the traditional fresh out of college students are too young for the work, and that they should have some life experiences beforehand. This comes from working with many of these students of all ages over the years she’s been doing this.

  • In reply to:
The question is not whether you are nuts... but whether you are willing to sacrifice the comfort of the present, for the promise of tomorrow.

I have for too long let the years tick by being comfortable. The first step was leaving a six-figure software job, because I just couldn't do it anymore. I was good at my job, but getting nothing out of it for myself. The money didn't matter really. I took some time to travel, and think about what I wanted to do for the next chapter of my life. I figured that when I did some soul searching, I would know what felt right. This does. So, down the yellow brick road I go.

The thing is, I'm a life long learner. Even if something changes, and I can't make this dream come true, anything I learn along the way is great. My only real regret was not making this decision earlier. I've always felt like I would make an outstanding orthopedic surgeon, having needed them multiple times in the past (motorcycles as a hobby), but at my age, I doubt getting matched for that would ever happen. Kind of sad about that.

Hello Jimi44,

You are only nuts if you don’t try… you will think about what if…every waking moment. I too am 44 and recently enrolled at the local university to take the prerequisites only to find out that I need remedial math! As an engineer you won’t have that problem. You are already on your way. Don’t spend too much time thinking about it or you will talk yourself out of it.For information on formal post bacc pre-med programs google the same and select the AMCAS site which will give you a listing of all of the schools. If you like you could do an informal program on your own as many members of this site have done. Let us know how you are doing. Best Wishes!

I have taken the leap. I formerly had my own successful business, made very good money but was not happy. I decided to ask myself a very childlike question “if you could be anything you wanted what would that be?” The answer was absolutely clear, a doctor. I am 37, married with children. I am also being true to myself, following my true hearts desire and LOVING IT!! It is challenging, yes, but like you I am a lifelong learner, in all areas of my life, so the learning process is exciting and stimulating…great for us older people!!


Welcome jimi44 - you are indeed crazy as are the rest of us! I think that when others say you are crazy for following your dream, there is a hint of jealousy in their voice.

  • campkel Said:
Welcome jimi44 - you are indeed crazy as are the rest of us! I think that when others say you are crazy for following your dream, there is a hint of jealousy in their voice.

I think there is a lot of that. It was interesting to see the reaction of friends and co-workers when I decided to bail my job and hit the road. Lots of jealousy, but some thought it was cool. Believe me, it's not like I'm rich or anything, but I just couldn't waste even more years doing something I hated. I got to where I'd live under an overpass and do something I liked than waste any more of my life chasing dollars at the expense of happiness.

In talking with a friend the other night, she mentioned that she had read a book about phases of one's life, and that it is very common for people in their 40s to switch gears and want to do something that can "make a difference." It got me thinking about _why_ I want to be a doctor, and how much of it is for me, and how much because I want to help others. It's interesting.

Hi jimi44 -

I think I can appreciate some of what is driving you, being that I too have been in software engineering for nearly the last 10 years

I think that last thought of yours demonstrates you have started this off wisely - you seem to be genuinely in pursuit of self discovery before taking the plunge…

About three years ago ( I was 36 then) when the germ of the idea and excitement to be a doctor first came to me I spent about a year both with myself and my wife trying to serious evaluate my motivations…and trying to assess near and long term impacts to us and the children…

It’s only been the past year or so that I’ve throttled down a bit in regards to my self perceived lunacy…

I think one becomes more anchored and comfortable with the decision once the committment is made and followed through upon…probably after a year or so of pre-reqs, volunteering, shadowing, etc…

Stay close to this OPM forum, it’s a special place and there is so much to learn here…The inspiration and motivation to keep on this road even when the doubt sets in (and there will be doubts and second guessing, just plan for it) I attribute to the site and many of the very special OPM people…

Please keep us updated on your progress…


I’m nuts. I’m 37, unemployed, and can’t get a job … but I signed up for College Chem. 101 and lab, this fall quarter, and I’m not sure how I’ll pay for it. I still have to finish my math, biology, physics and organic chem. pre-reqs too. I already have my bachelor’s degree, and I got good grades in high school and college (3.55 gpa in college). But I’ve bounced around from one job to another, not sure of what I really wanted. I think I’ve come to the point where I want to really go for being a doctor, but it seems impossible. I never felt like a great math and science student, although in high school I did pretty well in them. So it’s good to know I’m not the only one who feels like a nut. TTYL, Pat

“what are you willing to give up?”

Dr. Wally Newkirk MD, Wenatchee Veterans’ Clinic

This was the theme of Dr. Newkirk’s presentation to the OldPreMeds 2007 Conference. Well into his 50’s and after a career in the army and regular jobs as a medic and nurse, Dr. Newkirk finally decided with his wife to move the the Caribbean and attend medical school. He currently is director of a VA clinic in rural Washington State,


“You can have anything you want. You can’t have everything you want”

Since your rate of aging is a constant (ie it will change no matter what ur decision about medical school is) it should be ignored as a factor in your decision making process. What you want your life to be and what you are willing to do to get there should be the deciding factor

Link to other thoughts on age


I’ve become comfortably numb

Pink Floyd

The realization that my job was using about 5% of my intellectual abilities, making it at the same time, excruciatingly easy to perform and exceeding difficult to do on a daily basis, was the immediate factor to move me off my ass to start acting on my dreams.


It’s good to have a dream, but you gotta have a plan

Putting the pieces of the puzzle together from a dream to a plan to a reality. The link bleow to one of my previous rants & rave may give some idea of what I mean and how this can be a minimum “risk” exploration

Link To Perspectives


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

Deciding what/who is nuts matters greatly on your point of view

hi jimi! I just wanted to thank you for deciding to realize your dream and sharing it with us. I am a fresh industrial engineer (just graduated!!) and before I go into business, I looked at many other ind. engineers both in academic career or private sector. None of the topics made me interested a bit! I thought a lot and similar to you I have decided that I want to help people directly. I don’t want to chase a job that makes some big bosses richer without feeling any passion for my job! You are lucky that you are in a country where people are more respectful to different choices right? At least Hollywood says so! Here, in Turkey, everything is harder. It is like you have to follow a path that many people follow and if you try to something different, everybody judges you! So I won’t bore you with my problems any more but I just want you to know that you gaveme hope and courage to go out of my path and follow at least try to follow my dream! Your age is nothing, please don’t worry about it. Life is long enough to do anything! Best wishes from Turkey.

Just thought I would bump this thread. Although I missed the fall 2009 deadline, which really pissed me off, I got accepted into the post-bacc at the local 4-year for Spring 2010.

Starting in the Spring definitely makes it a little tougher, as classes like Biology I are in short supply, as most are taking Bio II. Anyway, I’m meeting with the pre-med adviser this week, and registering for classes. In the mean time, I’ve been trying to brush up on my decade old chemistry in prep for Organic.

Was hoping to take some upper level Biology courses as recommended to me, like Virology, Immunology, etc, but they aren’t listed as Biology courses as the local college, but “Health Sciences.” I don’t know if that’s a negative on my transcripts or not. I don’t even know if they are meant as science major types of classes. I guess I’ll find out this week.

Long road ahead, but at least I’m on it.

Hey Jim, I am in the same boat as you … Computer Progammer for over 20 years and wanted to do something meaningful. I did not see on this thread but I would start your volunteering in the ER ASAP. You will need those hours under your belt … and more importantly it will give you a taste of what the job entails. A year ago, I volunteered in the ER at a Level 1 Hospital … If you can stomach the blood, urine, vomit and look to the helping of people in need, it is a good indication of your calling.