Trying to decide in New Mexico

Hi all! I am new here and would like some comments and advice on my current situaition as an older student, trying to move out of the counseling and social service field into medical, direct care.

First of all, let me say that I don’t give a s**t that I am 45 --I feel 30 (except for one knee–that’s why they have orthopedic surgeons!) and have a ton of energy, enthusiasm, and brain power. I have already been told a thousand times that I might be too old by my advisor, but my feeling is if I qualify, I qualify and I dare someone to discriminate against me because of my age.

Five years ago I ran screaming out of a job in a social service agency where I had worked my ass off for almost 13 yrs. I loved working with the clients, but in order to make any money, I had to complete a Masters and become a supervisor and administrator, and split my time between hand holding spoiled rich board members, supervising underpaid and overworked staff, writing grants, mangaging budgets, desiging training curriculums, fundraising, doing PR… Hated hated hated it! After that, I took a year to spend time with my younger two, worked part time for a neuropsychologist with brain injured patients and became convinced that my childhood desire to go into medine was my true calling. So, in 2002, I started chipping away at the pre-med requirements that would at the least get me into PA school, and maybe into Med school.

Because the nearest medical school is 225 miles up the road at the University of New Mexico, PA or med school would require a relocation for at least me–not the best but doable because I have two brothers who live there who would help me out. But it is a major issue, since my youngest is 10, and I could be gone as long as 4 yrs (we have residency program here at our local hospital for Family and Ped’s I would try to get into). I have to say, though, that we drive this distance all the time in our state, so it is something I’m pretty used to. There is a possiblility that in 2009 a new branch of Texas Tech will open down the road from us in El Paso, too. I don’t think I have any interest in going much further away than these two schools, at least not in the near future.

Besides all that, I am not sure about what the best way to practice medicine REALLY is anymore. So, here are some of the questions I have:

Is medical school even an option for me? My GPA before starting science coursework was 3.58 undergrad, 3.8 Grad, now is 3.4 undergrad. I really struggled through Chem and O-Chem, (even had to retake O-chem course work after getting a D in first semester). But I am proud to say that I did get an A in Bchem, and passed Physics both semesters. However, now UNM has a rule that if you have a C- in any core coursework they will not accept your application–I have a C- in one semester of Physics and one semester of O-chem. But All my Bio classes are A and B, and I have even gotten B’s in upper 400 level grad courses. I know my weakness is in chem and physics, but I could take a good science MCAT prep course to help me fill in the blanks. I took the verbal practice tests, and got no lower than 13 verbal, and an 11 on the biology ones (I haven’t completed a physical science practice test yet, but I know the scores will suck .)

We also have a new 30 credit Master’s in Bio I could take this year, since I already have 3-4 of its required courses, and it doesn’t make you do a thesis.

Should I just bail on the MD fantasy get either a Physician Assistant degree or an RN/MSN in Family Practice? Both would involve about 3-4 years more school (less for PA, more for nursing). Again, the two PA programs are 225 miles away, but I could do a fast track nursing BSN here, ( have already met all their req’s) then get the FNP partially online and commute some for the rest. In NM, NP’s can have a freestanding practice, but everyone I know LOVES PA’s, esp doctors and patients. I just worry I might end up feeling underemployed and frustrated because they are professional degree programs, and I wouldn’t be taken as seriously as an MD. And would it be enough for someone who loves the whole scientific world of medicine?

I appreciate any and all feed back on this really long post. It will all help!

PS. I also just started posting at

Hey I posted to you on Student Doc…

I say go for what you really want and if that is MD/physician then go for it!

yeah, lots of folks over 45 going for it. Your age and your grades are not the primary factors here, and in any case your grades and MCAT practice scores are pretty good. It’s your desire and determination to become a physician that are of greatest importance.

I would recommend proceeding with your MCAT preparation and make sure you can nail that physical test. Meanwhile, try to shadow a few physicians and get some clinical volunteering experience under your belt to get a better feel for the various health professions. I personally found volunteering and plain old talking to lots of folks to be very helpful. Anyone who admitted to being an RN, NP, MD,DO, PA, etc. was fair game.

Best of luck,

I agree that MD is certainly within your power but you need to take care of some things first…your recent grades need to be top notch or some programs will screen you out. Because you are not willing to consider applying broadly then you need to go by what the schools you are considering require. If you need to get a C or higher then that is what you need to do to be considered at this school. The process favors those folks that apply BROADLY and apply EARLY. So if you are not applying broadly then you have to ask EACH school you are applying to what you need to do to become competitive for their program. I hate to say this…but your recent grades need to be mostly A’s with some B’s and hardly any C’s. If you have some C- then you need to retake those classes and get a good grade. Many adcoms really focus on your recent courses IF your GPA is from some time ago. Sure, MCAT is also a huge element but a great MCAT does not compensate for soso grades. Because the first two years of medical school are classroom based we need proof that you can make it through. This is done via recent courses with excellent grades. You can certainly achieve this goal but you need to think it through…why not apply to more schools? remember, you will more than likely have to move for residency…so not moving ever may not be an option. Good luck.

Yes I agree I think the GPA track record is pretty good though. If the poster can continue and get A’s and B’s I think they are fine