The Journey

My name is Joe. I am a 30 year old othro rep in Arizona. My educational background is in Econ and an MBA. Neither of which is a point of pride. I wasn’t challenged in either degree. Since I have started this job I have found I love being in the operating room. I love it so much that it is all I want to do. I want to be more involved with treating the patient, not just be some peddler of replacement parts.

For the last few months this idea of returning to school has consumed my thoughts. I know the journey is long, but I feel as though I will never be satisfied if I do not at least give it a shot. I am single, no kids, but own a home. I suppose I am looking for advice on weather to work full time, part-time, or put all my eggs in one basket and go to school full time. I would not be able to apply till I am 32, given med school and residency I would be 42 before I am done. What experiences have others had? Any difference in DO vs. MD getting into surgical residency programs? I would love to hear from pharma or device reps. Any info/thoughts/advice would be appreciated. Thank you!


For school “full-time, part-time”, etc I assume you mean prior to med school as there isn’t a part-time option in med school. There are pros and cons each way. I think that having no current debt when starting med school is a good idea (as it will simply sit there accumulating more interest and growing thruout. If you can fund school while working part-time and have no significant debt to retire, that may be a good option for you. There is probably some advantage to taking a full load academically your last semester (and not working) in order to demonstrate your ability to handle the academic work load, but that is not mandatory.

The house is a consideration. You will want to apply broadly (geographically) to med schools and for residency will not have complete control of where you end up. In my own case I assumed I would not be able to live in my house for med school or residency. I decided I would need to sell it due to it being too expensive for me to live there even if I were local. Also, if renting it out would have had to get a property management company to handle it and didn’t think it would rent for enough to cover mortgage and needed upkeep and management consistently. Thought it’s value might go down over the 8 or so years or it might need expensive repairs and I would have no resources to cover then.

So, it’s on the market. I did use some of the equity in the house to finance my post-bacc premed program so that I was able to go to school full-time to get my courses in within 1 year and not work. I share this as an example of one way to go, not necessarily as advice as to how you should proceed. Having family in the area with the house might make a difference.

I’m 11 years older now (starting school tomorrow!) than you will be when you graduate…so I see no problem with it!

Good luck and welcome to old premeds!


hi joe, i’m also in my young 30’s and live in phx. i made the decision to start my journey in march 2009 and started classes in aug 2009. i am taking pre-reqs at ASU, work part-time (~20 hrs/wk), and plan to apply to med schools next year.

i also was faced with the decision of whether to work or not but i was able to work part-time and that has worked out great for me so far.


Kate- Thank you. You make some great points regarding full-time or part-time schooling. Though at my age I would like to get ready to apply ASAP. After all I am not getting any younger. Obviously I would hope to get into a school in AZ, either MD or DO. That way I could possibly find a way to keep the house. Ultimately I am willing to sacrifice the house to achieve my dreams. It is a very small price to pay. Age and the how daunting the journey is, are making me hesitant.

What happens to no-trads that do not achieve the dream?

Shawn- Do you volunteer? What was your experience going back to classes like the first time around?


yes, i volunteer at two places: Banner Desert Hospital and at my cardiologist’s office in Chandler. the hospital gives me a chance to interact with patients while the dr’s office allows me to interact more with health care staff.

going back to school wasn’t difficult at all for me. i got right back into it and found that i was way more focused than when i did my undergrad. the result was A’s in all subjects and labs. i also found it much easier to talk with professors b/c i actually had things to discuss with them in contrast to when i did undergrad. my interest and enthusiasm in the classes has also strengthened my conviction to become a doctor (well, except for physics lab).