Technology to 37

Hello All, first time posting here, I am currently a Technology Manager at a Fortune 100 company. Have been with this company for around 13 years. For the past 5 years or so I have been very interested in Cardiology (my family has a history of Cardiac issues so I try to stay somewhat informed). I’m seriously considering a major career shift and trying to attend Med School to be a Cardiac Surgeon. The issues, as I see them, are as follows:

A. Education

  • Undergrad in Business/Information Technology

  • MBA in Entrepreneurship

    B. Age - If I do this, I plan to go all the way, I’d like to be a surgeon. This seems like a minimum 10 year horizon line to me.

    C. Family - I have two children (10-11)

    D. Location - I live in the middle of no-where, would have to consider online pre-med and then make a move for Med School or commute a couple hours

    Historically I test well and am a good student, so I’m not overly worried about the actual course work (not discounting it, just saying I feel that I have bigger issues to worry about).

    Would love some feedback from someone who has made the switch from corporate leader to Med Student in mid/late 30’s.

    Thanks in advance for any and all feedback,


First, welcome to OPM! This is a wonderful site that has been a great resource and encouragement to me on my journey to medical school acceptance. I hope it is the same to you.

A few comments, from my perspective.

First, on being a surgeon: It’s great that you have a goal. That’s important. But perhaps even more important, going into medicine, is being open minded in terms of specialties. Surgery is very competitive. I’m not saying you can’t hack it–just that there aren’t enough spots for everyone who wants to be one, period. That’s a reality. If you’re tied to surgery and ONLY surgery, you may be very disappointed in the end. Also, your 10-year timeline is actually not realistic, unless I’m missing something. Here’s what I figure: 2 years post bac + 1 glide year + 4 years med school + 5 years residency (additional fellowship years possible) = 12 years minimum, from my count. Cardiothoracic surgery is longer. That’s definitely going to add a few fellowship years.

Online courses–these are tricky. One of our members (who recently got into medical school) did online work for his pre-requisites, and it worked for him. But it does limit where you can apply, as some schools do not accept online coursework. The usual 4-year “brick and mortar” university is the gold standard for medical school pre-requisites, although not the only way to go. Investigate before you take the classes and shell out your money and time.

I agree with Lorien on both points. The minimum residency will be 6 years if you can get into an integrated program like the one at UNC Chapel Hill. Otherwise you’re looking at a 5-year general surgery residency followed by a 3-year CT surgery fellowship.

If there’s any way you can do it, brick and mortar post-bacc is probably the better strategy for your ambitions. I’m not saying it can’t be done through the online route, but you will have a better chance getting into a top-tier medical school if you can attend a 4-year university for DIY post-bacc, or go through a formal post-bacc associated with a university. Top-tier med schools produce top-tier residency candidates, and the air is pretty thin at that level of competition. Not fair, but it is what it is. You’re not too old, but you will face more scrutiny than the average 26-27 year residency candidate so anything you can do now to lay the inevitable questions to rest will work to your advantage in the long run. Best of luck and go get 'em.

Thanks so much for the responses, gives me some additional things to think about. I was talking about Online courses at a brick and mortar University. I don’t believe there is anything on a transcript that shows if a class was taken online or not (unless I’m mistaken).

I think whether the transcript reflects online or not depends on the school, from what I’ve heard. But some medical schools specifically say on their admissions pages that they do NOT accept online coursework. That, to me, implies that even if your transcript doesn’t say “online,” if they found out it was online, that would present a problem. That’s a risk. I think online labs are especially frowned upon, as I don’t imagine they can really simulate a true lab experience, and medical schools know this.

That said, I understand that your circumstances are difficult, and you may have little choice but to take some online courses. You can enhance your competitiveness in other ways, via an awesome MCAT score (which is really necessary anyway), great LORs, extracurricular activities, and so on.

What I would recommend is that you purchase the MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements) book from the AAMC - uirement… - this will tell you for sure what medical schools accept in terms of online coursework, and other class requirements. This is a must-have anyway for students applying the MD route. DO route, I think there is a similar publication online you can download.

I’d be willing to bet that adcoms have ways of identifying online courses even if they aren’t spelled out as such on the transcript… I did online courses and only applied to schools that either said explicitly that they accept online coursework or did not explicitly say they don’t accept it.

As far as online labs go… I did gen chem in the classroom and Orgo classes online. I honestly felt I got the exact same learning objectives complete in both, only gen chem required countless more hours of equipment set up, waiting for reactions to complete, and redoing stuff that I screwed up. I remember even doing poorly on a gen lab when I ran out of lab time to complete everything. With the Orgo classes, I still had to write out a hypothesis, explain the normal stuff in a lab report, and decide what to mix with what to get the desired product. What I thought was good was being able to learn the objectives in a much shorter time without a majority of what felt like busy work. The software showed the lab processes without actually having to sit at the bench. Other people on here may argue that the time spent in the lab is worth it.

I can definitely see the value of hands on physics labs. There’s probably some benefit to having hands on bio labs as well, though I also took an online bio class and felt I didn’t miss out on much using the lab software. The online program I went through (UNE COM) does now have all of the lab requirements required at normal med schools, I believe. If I remember correctly, they actually mail you the equipment for the physics classes (I didn’t take physics through UNE).

Hi,would you mind sharing where you took you online Orgo Class?

I went through the Univ New England College of Med online post bacc program. It’s a little pricey but you can take only what you need and complete it on your schedule (for the most part).