starting at 50

I’m definitely on the upper end of the interested in med school crowd…I’ve worked in academia for the last 20+ years with a background in film, psychology and recently instructional and learning design. I started undergrad as a pre-med and now I want to find my way back to that original path.

Question - they say freshman don’t have to major in biology and can still apply to medical school…I plan to take two bio and two chem with lab courses as well as stats…is that enough with a BS and MS to apply? I have also thought about the physician assistant path…I am impatient and I want to get the pre-req courses out of the way as soon as possible.

This looks like a wonderful source of support…any ideas, advice, reactions welcome!

Welcome! You are correct that you don’t need to have a biology degree. However, you do need to complete certain courses that are required by nearly all medical schools. These include:

One year of biology with labs

One year of general chemistry with labs

One year of physics with labs

One year of organic chemistry with labs

Additionally, some schools have a math requirement of calculus or stats. Many schools are now starting to require biochemistry.

You will need to have taken nearly all of the first four prior to taking the MCAT. Because of the two years of chemistry requirement, it is very difficult to do the pre-reqs in less than two years. You will want to have completed most of your pre-reqs prior to applying, and the application process takes nearly a year. Calculus, biochemistry, and any other non-standard pre-reqs can be taken during your application year. So, starting from scratch, you are looking at around 3 years from starting pre-reqs to med school matriculation, assuming everything goes well.

Welcome to the forums joang. It took me one summer (genchem), one entire school year (org chem, first year spanish and physics) and one more summer (gen biology) to get the pre-req classes in. I did not work during this. I took my MCAT during the last week of my summer bio class and applied to DO schools only and as I had worked on may application since May (collecting recommendations, transcripts etc) I was complete mid September. I have one acceptance at DMU, waiting to hear back from my interview last week at Western , was rejected by KCOM and not even interviewed at TCOM (I am OOS) I just turned 49. I have been definitely the oldest at all of my interviews and I am at the older edge of folks that post here but just so you can see the experience of someone that did it recently. Look through the forums and work smart AND hard. I cannot imagine a way that I could have done it any quicker.

Best Wishes, Craig

Hello Joang and welcome!

Emergency’s response sums up well typical requirements - which of course vary from one school to the next.

I’m a former Math. & Comp.Sc. graduate and had some basic science courses under my belt from ‘what back when’. Yet I have to say, I devoted a full 3 semesters of full time study to ready myself for applying. I can hardly immagine doing it in less time. Biology (also molecular biology) have progressed tremendously in the past 2 decades.

Yet I did make it in; age: 52.

Go do it!


Thanks everyone - a lot! for the reality check and the “just go do it” encouragement…I am loving my bio course which is filled with eager young ivy league pre-geneticists, and I’m keeping up. We’ll see how it goes but it is GREAT to hear form those of you in my age zone.

Thinking about going to the conference…


This is a great topic! I thought I was the only “50-ish” person doing this!

I have been in clinical lab and pharma (sales and operations–I have a BS and MBA) for the last 20 years while I raised my daughter and have put off until NOW going to med school. While I have been working, I have taken pre-med classes at UCLA extension and am trying to finish up on physics now.

Does anyone have any suggestions on financing for med school? And because of my age, should I try for DO schools and Caribbean Medical Schools? What is the best way to get recommendations if one hasn’t been in school consistently?

Thanks and I am glad to join this group!


Welcome, Marie. You just asked a mouthful . Definitely browse through old threads here to see if you can find answers, and I’d highly recommend coming to the Conference as well. It’s a whole lot of information and networking, IMNSHO well worth the cost of admission.

I couldn’t tell you a lot about financing, but hopefully others can.

I would not limit yourself to DO or Caribbean because of your age. This is for a number of reasons:

1 - I don’t know that you’d have any better chance of getting accepted DO than MD

2 - DO should not be a backup plan (if that is perhaps how you were thinking of it; hard to tell on a messageboard ;); IMO, you should pursue DO if you are passionate about the practice, or interested in the practice and passionate about medicine. That is to say, I wouldn’t apply DO due to some perception of being easier to get into at a certain age, or anything like that.

3 - Caribbean might not be any faster and could even slow you down, due to the relative difficulties in obtaining a residency in the US. There are also other hassles with the route - they don’t make it a non-option, but I wouldn’t considerr it a first choice. YMMV, of course.

For recommendations, it may help to get to know some of your post-bacc professors well. Otherwise, you can look to employers, medical professionals with whom you’ve worked/shadowed (preferably who know you well), really anybody who can reasonably comment on your motivation and capability for medicine. Again, I hope others can comment more fully.

Welcome, and enjoy the ride! It sounds like you’ve already got a great perspective for it .

  • marie in sjc Said:
Does anyone have any suggestions on financing for med school?

Loans, loans and more loans. All US med students are eligible for federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans up to whatever the current maximum is per year (around 41,000 or so this year) which can be used for living expenses after tuition is paid. These loans do not require credit checks or co-signers. If the federal maximum amount isn't enough, then students usually borrow the additional needed amount from private lenders (assuming you have good credit). If you don't have good credit and/or a co-signer, financing med school can be difficult if you go to a school where costs significantly exceed the federal loan limits. Another option at some schools for additional monies is the federal PLUS loan. Try and pay off as much debt as possible prior to med school so you don't have car payments and credit card payments eating up your money.

  • In reply to:
And because of my age, should I try for DO schools and Caribbean Medical Schools?

Not necessarily. DO schools tend to be a little more accepting of non-traditionals, but as long as you are a competitive candidate, you stand a fair shot at many MD schools. Most would generally tell you the Caribbean should be a last resort - it is much easier to get into a residency from a US school. Financing can also be more difficult outside the US.

  • In reply to:
What is the best way to get recommendations if one hasn’t been in school consistently?

Try and get letters from your current and most recent professors. One or two letters from a work or volunteer supervisor is okay, but the bulk of your letters should be academic, if possible.

Welcome, and good luck!

Thanks for the encouragement and general information. I definitely will be attending the OPM 2008 Conference and will perhaps get a chance to meet all of you.

I am also going to give Judy Colwell a call.

Thanks again!



Which med school are you currently attending?


I don’t really have advice to offer, but I decided to wait to apply until my kids are grown (I am a single parent). By that time I will be 50. Could you please let me know any info you found out?

Does anyone have advice on attending Med school as a single parent? Attending would require me to move my children at least 3 hours away from my support network. I am concerned that medical school would be too intensive to tackle without neglecting my children. They come first. Does anyone have info on the University of Mexico? My advisor mentioned that “there was always the University of Mexico.” He said they have a always have a large entering class and it may be easier to get in there. Are there MD schools in the US that older premeds have had success with? Also, I know that some schools have post-bac programs that guarantee a seat in the med school if you meet certain criteria, I haven’t been able to find them however. Does anyone know of those schools? Any answers are appreciated.



Mammadoc, search for caribbean and offshore and you will find quite a few discussions on the topic of studying medicine outside the U.S. The general consensus is that you are best off to stay in the U.S. As for your children, I can’t imagine they’d have more of a support group in a foreign land than they would in your own state (although, the baby sitters might cost less).

There are several schools that offer linkage programs–if you do very well in their programs you will be offered at the very least an interview. BU, Brandeis, Tufts, and Georgetown have such programs, just ones I happen to know of. Search for “linkage”.

Best of luck,