Traditional thinking??

Just went to my family practicioner a few days ago. In the process of the visit, I told him I’d seen an article describing one med school that had accepted both a mother and daughter into the entering freshman class. I believe the daughter was 22-23 and a recent Biology grad. The mother as I recall, was a 51 year old high school math teacher.
I asked him just out of curiosity, what he thought of that? His opinion was he couldn’t understand why any med school would ever bother with a 40 or 50 year old! He felt it was a waste of a seat in the class that would be better offered to a much younger person. It was his belief someone in their 50’s won’t be practicing long enough to justify the investment the state,( it was a state school), will be making in the individuals education.
He also said during his residency he knew some 40 year olds that were really struggling physically to handle the nite calls and general stress and strain of residency.
I didn’t mention to him I was giving it serious consideration myself.
I then asked him when he thought he was going to retire? He said originally he’d thought of retiring in his late 50’s but now that he’s in his early 50’s he says he’s really come to appreciate the value of work and has changed his mind on retiring. Amazing how age changes ones perspective!
Needless to say, after hearing his opinion on older premeds, I won’t be asking him for a recommendation or if I can shadow him!
Any thoughts, opinions, or experiences as to how prevalent that thinking is among med school admissions committees?
Just thought I’d pass along these tid bits for a chuckle.

Well, I’m not on admissions committee obviously, but I personally think it’s AWESOME that a mother-daughter pair got accepted to the same medical school. Talk about instant support/bonding experience/study buddy, etc.–assuming their relationship is close.
Unfortunately, you will probably run into a lot of people who have the same attitude as your FP. I think it’s a shame some people judge other people based on their age (or race or sex or height or shoe size or whatever) and not on their abilities, but that’s just me. I’m a little weird.
I hope most adcoms are a little more progressive than your FP. Judging from the success of OPM members here I’d say they are!

Hi Randy,
My experience has been exactly the opposite. Every admissions committee person and every faculty member that I spoke with was happy to have a non-traditional student as long as that person showed promise of being able to complete the medical curriculum. The “state” has no specific requirements as to the number of years that a person may practice. There are plenty of traditional medical students who plan on NOT practicing and who attend state schools.
In no interview (medical school or residency) have I been asked how many years I plan to practice and I am a 51-year-old who is doing a General Surgery residency! Amost everyone is interested in your level of interest and intellectual ability.
After completing a General Surgery internship (under the old system where hours were unlimited), I found myself no more tired than my colleagues who were 25 years younger. I find that I am no more slower than my colleagues who are 25 years younger and I find that I actually complain less and have a better sense of priority than my traditional colleagues. I have a colleague Kay Blanchard, MD/Ph.D who began her General Surgery residency at Mayo Clinic at the age of 52. She is now done and a practicing surgeon and one of the most prolific researcher/clinicians that I have ever encountered. She has contributed more to medicine in one year that 90% of the physicians who have been practicing ten years or more.
Medicine and surgery are not about how long you plan to practice but how you plan to practice. After all, there is a physiological age, a chronological age and a mental age. While my chronological age is 51, my physiological age is probably around 30 and my mental age is 6.
There will always be people who will find some reason to tell you why you can’t do something. Cross them off your list and find positive people to support your life choices. You are not asking anyone’s permission to live your own dream.


I’m hoping the same thing too. The fact that there are stories like this at all suggests that there are adcoms out there that are a bit more broad minded.
I thought it was a bit funny how when asked when he was going to retire that he’s shelved his plans and is going to practice on because he appreciates his work more now!

Randy, I’ve heard that “how many years will he practice?” argument floated by LOTS of pre-meds. I hadn’t heard it from a practicing physician before but am not surprised. I never heard it in AdCom deliberations at my school. The folks who are in academic medicine are well aware that people end up doing a variety of things with a medical degree… perhaps far more aware than physicians out in private practice.

As to the stamina thing, I am going to talk about this in my talk at the conference… shameless plug! I’ll put myself up against my 20 yrs younger colleagues any day.

Oh… the mom of that pair was on OPM for awhile back when she was applying. At least I presume it’s her - how many mother-daughter pairs where the mother is a h.s. math teacher can there be in the U.S.??? I met both mother and daughter when they interviewed at GWU. Both were delightful and I am sure they are doing great.

Great replies from Dr. Bell et al in this topic, and check out my other postings where I posed similar questions to yours.
Regarding longevity… I figure I’ll work until about 75, which is 30 years from now. Long enough. I am a high energy person, like a lot of the posters in this forum, and I have the confidence that whatever path I choose, I’ll be able to keep up with those young’uns through a combination of (a bit of) maturity and sheer adrenalin.
Some 23-year-olds who make it through medical school may not practice for 40 years; they may get rich by pursuing the business of medicine and be able to retire at 50 or 55, like your guy. My impression is that OPMers are driven more by altruistic motives and less by greed than trads, and therefore they may in fact do more good in the world. Who knows? It would be interesting to see some statistics about what people do after residency, by age cohort.
Finally, consider what medical advances may occur over the next 20-30 years. I went to a presentation on stem cell research the other week that blew me away. Incredible potential there. We may be able to grow new organs some day, refresh our brain cells, etc. Life extension is almost a reality, and the cool part is, some of us right here on OPM may be working on some of this stuff!

That seems to be the conventional thinking for medical school applicants. Thank goodness, some savvy schools are realizing that older students DO have a lot of working years ahead of them, and are WAY AHEAD of the game in terms of maturity, life experience, and setting priorities. The DO schools seem to appreciate this more than the MD schools in general, from general appearances. You will likely find adcoms with those opinions, but in terms of docs, profs, and others you deal with, if that is their attitude, just steer clear and do your best. Good luck.

I totally forgot something one of my doctors told me – he is on the admissions cmte for a medical school and he said I would be asked that quesion – why a medical school should take me when I am older etc. He said the ‘correct answer’ is that a doctor’s lifespan as such is 25 years and I should be able to easily work for that period of time.
Just thought I would add that.

Hello everyone,
I think the mother/daughter medical students were accepted at Indiana University. One of the anesthesiologists I work with (who went to IU for med school) told me about them after I told her about myself and OPM.
Also working with mainly traditional age residents, the sentiment for quite a few is to work 10yrs after finishing residency and then retiring. A lot of them want the big bucks and they also whine a lot when they have to be on call. The few non-trads I’ve worked with are dedicated and tireless (One woman became a general surgeon, which was a life-long dream for her, she was married with 7 children, she never whined and always had a kind word to say, even during a trauma at 3am).

Yes, the mother-daughter pair were accepted to Indiana Univ…the mother used to be a fairly active member of OPM. After school started, her activity dropped off. About a year or so ago, Marilyn (I believe that was her name - I suck w/ names!) & I exchanged e-mails. At that time, she was on personal leave from med school, but planning to return. Have not heard from her since. But, your having mentioned this has motivated me to peruse my address book to see if I still have her e-mail…just to say hello & welcome her back to OPM.

That is correct, they were accepted at IU Med school. The only way I knew about it was being an IU grad, I periodically get the IU Alumni magazine and there was an article on them. It was that article along with other things that got me actively thinking about Med School again! That 51 year old mom didn’t know it, but she’s already inspired someone!
It’s too bad that my Family doc feels the way he does. I would have like to have asked him for a LOR


It’s too bad that my Family doc feels the way he does. I would have like to have asked him for a LOR

Actually, although I relate to your disappointment in your family doc’s opinions, the fact that he can’t write a LOR is NO loss. Presumably you’d hoped to shadow him and get a letter that would vouch for you on a professional level (as opposed to a character reference, which is not needed). But such letter-writers generally do include something about their personal knowledge of the applicant and quite frankly, I find those letters to be weak and suspect. The letters come across as called-in favors that the writer feels obliged to perform, not spontaneous enthusiasm for the applicant’s brilliance and work ethic. This is coming across as a little harsh and cynical, but I will stick by my statement: in general, it’s best not to have personal relationships with those who write your LORs.