Social Science/Humanities to MD career change. Please, advise!

Greetings and thanks for the many helpful discussions that already answer some of my questions. Here are some unique background that might help you guide me as I ponder the following five questions.

I will be 38 in a few months, unmarried (no kids) and currently a tenure-track assistant professor at a university, with a Ph.D. in Education. My academic background is in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Since childhood, human biology (and medicine specifically) have been a personal passion. However, various odds that I’d rather not bother you with took me through circuitous routes to my currently growing disenchantment with an academic career I thought I’d grow to love. And the pay sucks! So, I’m now thinking seriously of jumping ship before I’m 45 and asking the same questions about whether I’m in the wrong career. So, here with some of my longer list of questions:

  1. I’d really like to start a family (wife and kids) although currently not in a relationship. Would that be a “dangerous” mix with the first few years of med school, if/when I get it?

  2. I’m not sure where to begin rebuilding my rusty knowledge of sciences and math (high school or earlier)? Any suggestions on useful diagnostic tests would be helpful. (Today, I started the Khan Academy programs and realize I had as much difficulty with some 5th grade math problems as precalc. At this point and with no clear assessment, I expect my knowledge to be below rudimentary).

  3. I intend to continue with my tenure-track position at a university while working on the prerequisites. Has anyone tried to combine these prereqs with a full-time job? Is it doable? College professorship is closer to a 68hr/week commitment, in case you’re not familiar. Are there any resources I could leverage? What schooling options might work well, since I’m typically in the office at least thrice a week?

  4. Besides loans, are there other funding options to consider? I’m extremely reluctant to take out loans due to other personal circumstances.

  5. Are the Caribbean medical schools a popular or advisable option? I learn they’re less expensive but can present a problem with residency placements.

    My regrets for the long list of questions, and thanks so immensely for your honest thoughts.

Hey Buddy- welcome to the forum.

1- Family: Good god, right there with 'ya. Just applied for the second year and am constantly asking myself that. (Not helpful, I know, but it’s nice to know we’re not alone.)

2- I was a Social Science major and I got a 3.77 Science GPA and a 4.0 Math during my post-bac. It’s amazing how much maturity helps studying. You’ll do fine. =)

3- I’d imagine 68 hours a week is tough, but can you take classes at your campus? Would that politically be suicide?

4- Look for scholarships for undeserved areas- DHHS once had a large loan payback for that.

5- It’s a gamble. You’re more likely to get in, but you’ll have to apply to residency as a FMG. I’d prefer to go to a DO school, but those are generally private, AKA $$$.

Good luck!

Hi, and welcome to OPM! This is a great place with a lot of resources, both in terms of helpful posts and helpful people. I’ll try to answer your questions as well, with my take. I will be as honest as I can …

  1. Relationships: This is a rough road for people who are already in a committed relationship. Although I’m not currently in such a relationship, I feel I can say that because I got divorced in the middle of my pre-requisites. And yes, my pursuing medical school contributed to that. I do know people who are doing this as a couple (with kids, too), but they will be the first to say it’s a challenge. I can’t comment on starting a new relationship in medical school, just that relationships on this journey are tough, period. Not impossible, but you have to be very intentional about things.

  2. Academics: Khan Academy is a great place to start. Dip your toes in there, in terms of studying, until you actually take some classes. While you may be rusty in terms of science, though, I’m guessing that having earned a PhD you hopefully have decent study habits, know how you learn best, etc. So I wouldn’t worry as much about that at the moment. Honestly, I would make sure you really want to do this – and to evaluate that, you need clinical exposure, not just science exposure. I would recommend shadowing, volunteering, etc. Get your hands dirty (as dirty as you can without having a degree yet!). Plus, you will need these sorts of activities on your AMCAS application if/when you apply to show commitment to the field, interest, etc.

  3. Working (a lot) and taking classes: Do NOT do this. You will totally kill your chances at medical school if you work a 68-hour/week job and then try to pile pre-med courses on top of that. This is simply not possible; there are not enough hours in the day to attend the courses, study, do homework, go to labs, and do WELL on anything. You really should aim for A’s in your pre-requisite courses. Especially since you have said you’re rusty in science/math, you may need to exert more effort than some of your classmates to get yourself up to speed. There are indeed night pre-med programs (Northwestern University, where I work now in a research lab, has one), but not even that would be doable if you are working nearly 70 hours a week.

  4. Options other than loans: Very few, unless you land a sweet scholarship somewhere (which is possible, but very rare). For my post-bac program, I had to take out both federal and private loans. For medical school, it will be more federal loans. It’s a LOT of money. There is the military, and also the National Health Service Corps. But most people fund this through mortgage-sized loans. Also, this is something I make a point of saying to people now – if you have any credit issues, get them sorted out now. Mine are forcing me to defer matriculation for a year. Not fun.

  5. Caribbean schools: the good ones (like Ross and St. George), from my understanding, are actually quite expensive, on par with U.S. schools if not more. Money should really not be the factor here. Getting a residency is more difficult from an offshore school, yes, but certainly not impossible. That said, it’s generally advised to go the U.S. medical school route if you can.

    Hope this helps … keep us posted on your thought process and progress!

Thanks so much, guys, for the helpful thoughts. James, I can only audit classes at my university but that won’t give me any credit on a transcript. I plan to do this to prepare for the the prerequisites. I’ll look into DHHS; very helpful.

Terra, I’m so glad you did the Northwestern program. I’m in Chicago as well and have been talking to them. Would you mind meeting up for coffee? I have a ton of questions about what to expect from the Northwestern program (including the 12, 15 or 21 mo options; MCAT, AMCAS, shadowing/volunteering, etc.). If so, please, send me a contact info privately.

Thanks again, guys! This is really helpful!

Hey! Happy to meet and answer any questions about the pre-med process, although I did not do the Northwestern post-bac program so can’t help you with those specifics. I did my post-bac at Dominican University. (I do work at NU however, in a neonatology lab on the Chicago campus.)

Anyway, just sent you a PM …