Uphill journey years in the making

Good morning to all!

I began the premedical journey many years ago and, long story short, broke off for a number of reasons. My personal journey for pre-med has just begun at the age of 37 and I don’t mind saying that I have absolutely no clue as to how I’m going to pay for all this, but, by gum, I’m doing it!

I must thank OldPreMeds.org - never thought there would be a group of older students bonding together online…

After perusing many of the posts, I cannot find that there is any particular advantage to taking a premed certification program; community colleges are looking more like a feasable venue nowadays. Does anyone concur with this?

Also - I have been reading many postings from full-time workers. Do medical schools require a full-time semester of science courses to prove you can handle the course load? (i find no true evidence of this but…) I would think that working full time and going to school half or full time would be enough to prove yourself.

Like many others, I have to start this way:

First semester

Bio 1

Chem 1

Both labs


Bio 2

Chem 2

both labs







ochem 2






psych (if needed)

perhaps some other “leg-up” courses like intro to anat and physio

If I can sneak in 3 courses per semester, that’d be great, but I want to do my best.

Now, after that scintillating list of courses that I am sure so many have seen before, what I am looking for is anyone who has done full time school, full time work?

I have all the “Volunteer” hours behind me now - after 10 years in hospitals and now a PT aide, I think (THINK, mind you), that I have it covered…

Now, about GPA:

I have an honors degree with a 3.8GPA from WELL over 10 years ago (17 years - Anthropology was the major…which is why all the science has to be done). I have the beginnings of my pre-med schtuff that ranged from 99-2002, during which I took a GPA dive-bomb in the tail years - all the way down to 2.7. I’m not unintelligent, I simply became enmeshed in another issue. Will they still factor in that 2.7 when considering the hop to medical schools?

I appreciate any opinions you folks would have to offer. I am on my own without assistance in this journey. I would be very grateful for input.

Many thanks!


Hi Bethanie and welcome. Sounds like you are on the right track already. Your schedule almost mirrors mine, started in Jan 2000. I worked full time while taking max of 2 classes and 2 labs per semester. I only interviewed (and ultimately was accepted) to one medical school, so my feedback was limited, but part-time school with full time work did NOT seem to put me at a disadvantage with the admissions committee. I also did a DIY program vs. formal post-bacc premed. Again this was 10+ years ago, so probably some of the other OPMs have a more current viewpoint? I went to med school with a number of other nontrads who arrived via DIY, post-bacc programs, 4-yr universities and community colleges. Since you are pretty much starting from scratch with the basic science, I doubt your previous poor showing would carry much weight, as long as you show you’ve go the right stuff this go-around. If you go into this with the mindset that nothing short of an all-out effort will cut it, then you’ll do well. Enjoy the ride!

Completely agree with JMDMD. Your story sounds quite similar to mine, I’m 33, got a B.A. in music from a respectable 4 year university and then became a firefighter/paramedic.

To answer your questions, I’ve done a lot of research into the “overall GPA thing” and yes…M.D. and D.O. schools look at ALL of your college course work. Though, as JMDMD points out, later course work as an adult often carries more weight! And D.O. schools offer “grade replacement” if you retake a subject you’ve done poorly in previously. That’s something M.D. schools don’t do.

For me, this was kind of an advantage. I had a 3.3 as a traditional student for my B.A. degree, but that rose considerably when I did my Paramedic at a CC. I think overall I’m around a 3.7 now.

As for the pre-reqs, I strongly suggest a 4 year University over a CC. You may hear some disagreement from some other OPMers, but I called a lot of colleges here in GA, several were very honest with me in that they don’t consider CC credits to be as “rigorous” as the 4 year universities. D.O. schools as a whole are more accepting of Community College pre-reqs. And yes…I too work full time as a firefighter, and I know the desire to save money. But for me, I had to look at the big picture. I want to give myself the best shot possible at getting accepted. That means M.D. and D.O. programs. I’m spending WAY more money at a do-it-yourself post bacc program taking two classes a semester (same outline as you). But I feel it’s worth every penny. It’s going to end up costing you a lot of money to go to med school anyway, what’s the extra money for a 4 year university if it gives you the best possible shot at being accepted?

Just my thoughts at least…


“Rule 1: Take a Breath”

“Rule 3: It Depends”

After several years of being involved in OPM and with many, many conversations with recruiters and admissions people, I have found perceptions and attitudes to be as follows

1)Doing at least a semester of full time premed coursework should be considered a necessary requirement.

2) Doing coursework at 4 year institutions over a CC is preferred.

So lets put these into context. The “philosophy” of a medical school application should be a consistent, compelling, and concise narrative. You are trying to make a statement of why you want be a physician and providing supporting evidence that you can achieve such. So it must be thought of as a overall picture of yourself. To do so otherwise, I find, leads students to being neurotic on individual items.

Part of this picture is showing a consistent pattern (or upgraded pattern for many OPMers)of academic achievement and rigor. Thus not following items 1 and 2 will likely be a negative on your application. But the intensity of this is completely variable from negligible to severe.

A narrative for say a 26 year guy, not married, no kids, who appears to have a so-so academic record who goes to CC part time while working at a menial job is different from a 36 year old single mom, with two kids, a full-time higher-level corporate position, who already has a masters and is successful in another field. who goes to CC part-time It has to be balanced with what your past education, grades, etc, and the logistics of your existing life. For example, my post-bacc DIY was a done at a so-so 4 year state school primarily on scheduling, location, and cost. I had to exclude some schools based on longer commuting, direction of traffic and of all things parking.

Lastly, the makeup of the applicant pool is completely out of your control, nor are applicants compared by a checklist against each other. For that matter the emphasis and mood of the particular admissions committee be different. Could it be that the night the committee is considering your application, you go up against a dozen academic superstars? Could it also be that none have a compelling narrative of explaining why after 10 years of being successful in another field you decide to go back to medicine?

So if I am rambling but I am low on caffeine and chocolate

I thank you folks for the input and advice; as I’m still at the beginning of my journey, I have decided to stop obsessing about it all and dive in with heart and soul, crossing each bridge as I come to it. Thank you so much for the support and for the stellar advice of “Take a breath”. JMDMD, I will absolutely enjoy this ride!