very discouraged - need a pep talk please

I am also 40 years old and have been told that I am nuts to apply to medical school. However, I will be doing it this May because I believe in my capability of being an excellent physician. It is true, that I am not a scientist, in the sense that the theorectical courses have often been difficult for me, however, medicine in reality is an applied science, so I don’t let it worry me. Pne of the people who told me I was nuts was a psychologist who had wanted to go to medical school herself but didn’t. I may never get in, who really knows, but I would feel like a total failure if I didn’t try to do the thing that I have wanted to do all of my life. I think you should go for what you dream of.
It is true that things are trickier for doctors today, between managed care and low reimbursement rates, liability and suit-prone patients. However, there are many risks in this world no matter what profession you choose, so you might as well choose the one that you have a passion for. Fear is just something to hold you back. I know. I spent a lot of my “young” years in fear of failure, so I didn’t even try. That won’t get you anywhere, I know. Take heart. We support you here!
BTW, to Nat and GEDtoMD, my IQ test was 130, good but not genius. Up until I went back to school for my pre-reqs, I was the poster girl for un-used potential!! <!–emo&<_dry.gif

I read somewhere that you need an I.Q. of at least 115 to make it in a Master's program and at least 125 to make it through Med or Law School.
So maybe your IQ grew.

Think of looking at TCOM/ University of North Texas Health Science Center. Your age won’t be a problem. What is important is your desire to become a Physician. Many of our grduates are older people who have the desire to become a Physician. I would enncourage you to check it out.

Hey Meomix,
There are a multitude of reasons why none of us should pursue this lofty goal. My IQ is probably just above my Akita’s (Tobiki) but somehow I have made it through a couple of Masters programs while raising a gagle of kids. I don’t realy believe in my abilities as a student, however it is a realtiy that I am a great nurse, educator, friend, and an ex-husband (never mind the fact that my ex doesn’t agree with this impression). Medicine is a blast. It will not pay what it did in the golden years…, perhaps, but it will never be boring, un-challening, dull, etc… At the age of 41 I can say that there is only a few friends willing to back me on the goal of getting there, and through medical school, but this is something that I have to finish, damn the disfavor of them all. So take heart and enjoy the adventure!

To Everyone Who has posted on this topic:
This is my very first posting on the forum. I have read and kept abreast of all of the pros and cons of becoming a doctor. It is what I am called to do. My problem is that I really relate to what “meowmix” is talking about! The discouragement is very disheartening and I have given up many times. You even have a speaker for the upcoming conference who was one of the main persons who told me that I would not make it as a doctor because of my grades (They are not that horrible–but they are not 3.9 to 4.0 range which was the criteria he endorsed). I am over 40 years of age and I hear it–“You’re too old!”; “Your grades won’t get you in!” “You need to consider being a Nurse Practitioner or PA.” It really gets to you–and yes I am working on not trying to seek approval so much and be a “people-pleaser.” The main thing I try to remember is not to internalize their perspective into negativity and fear. It is what I have been battling since 2000. I debated coming to the conference because I did not want to subject myself to past discouragements and relive what was told to me. I decided that it is in the past and I am not going to let this person keep me away from the conference. Actually, I’m looking forward to the information that will be presented on his behalf. (How’s that for guts!) I must admit that it truly hurts when you are told these things, but when you have a divine calling as I know I have, you must keep striving towards your goal. We get older–why not be older doing what you most passionately want to do in life?
I have had the opportunity to take the MCAT three times–each time, I make up an excuse. I plan to take the exam (for the first time) in August and if I do not do well, I will take it again in April, 2006. I have shed many tears and prayed that GOD would take the desire away to become a physician, but each day, I see evidence or experience something that continues to lead me in this path. I know that it is HIS will for me. I don’t need to convince others of it anymore. If I don’t succeed, I will not leave the world wondering–"Could I have done it?"
I am glad that this topic came up–I know that there are many that feel this way. I attended the Denver conference last year and thoroughly enjoyed it! The D.C. conference sounds even more exciting! OPM really gives you the confidence to interact with others and teaches you invaluable information that will help you reach your goal. The most valuable of all is that you are surrounded with positive people who will encourage you and keep in touch to ensure that “the negativity of others” towards you can and will be turned into the “reality of reaching your highest potential and dream of becoming a physician.”
To Meowmix: KEEP ON STRIVING–PUSH PAST THE FEAR, THE NEGATIVITY AND BECOME THE PHYSICIAN THAT YOU WANT TO BE! Isn’t Dr. Belle giving us one of the greatest examples that we can strive to emulate? Thank you, Dr. Belle, for your words were the ones that inspired me to take the risk and post on the forum. I know that it will be some difficult days ahead, but perserverence and hard work will yield the coveted title of MD or DO and a lifetime of fulfillment if we keep the faith and believe in ourselves.
Thank you all for your insights and positivity! It is these comments that I will focus on and internalize, for these are the ones that truly count!
Hope to see you all at the conference in June!

If you want to be a doc really bad, and you feel as though it is God’s will, then (1) YOU must have the will to study for the MCAT and do well, or (2) go to an offshore school that would accept you, which, though a bit more circuitous, still works. I know its hard, and I went the off shore route myself, but you must not listen to comments about age, etc, or it will continue to get you down.

Thank you for your words of encouragement! I am studying for the MCAT and have 2 tutors who are helping me in this regard. There are other issues that are setbacks (aging parents to help, putting others’ needs before my own, etc.). I have help with #1–it is #2 that I am struggling to conquer. This is what I love about OPM–Only Positive Advice! I will take what you said to heart and apply it–it is the only way I will succeed!
P.S. I have not ruled out the offshore route and have investigated three schools. Sometimes my focus is off due to the distractions listed above, but I have made the promise to myself and GOD that I will become a physician! Not that I have to or feel that it is willed–but it has become a smoldering ember that is fastly igniting into a flame because I want to passionately help others and integrate my 20+ years of nursing into another arena–medicine! I’ve really been hooked since 1997, but didn’t get off my duff and do anything about it. When I did, that’s when the discouraging remarks began. I didn’t stop and I will not stop now–just accelerate the process!
May GOD bless you in your journey to become a physician. May HE bless you more for your words to the weary–they mean more than any words I could adequately express to you!

I completely understand your concerns regarding your parents and putting others’ needs before your own. I have struggled with that issue for the last 15 years, and along the way have lost both my mom and my oldest brother (just last week); they were my primary supporters through some of my own difficult times. I’ve also dealt with my husband’s stroke, and, thankfully, he has recovered a great deal and is now my main supporter.
While these issues are hard to handle, if you stay focused and remember you are never alone, you will figure out how to maneuver this difficult path in a way that is both beneficial to your loved ones and to yourself.
Keep in mind that after the others are gone you will still have your own life to lead. You have to decide whether to live that life by fulfilling your dreams and goals or be satisfied with the path you had previously chosen.
Best of luck in your decisions. And remember, OPM is always here for support and encouragement through the tough times.

Wow! I am so lost in my own views and “woe is me” attitude that I did not know others suffer similar situations! I am humbled! Thank you for sharing that part of your life. It has been many times that I felt that my purpose in life was to take care of my parents until they passed on—but then, where would that leave me?
You are correct in sizing up my situation–I am not focused!!! I am certainly not getting any younger, so what is the problem? I have spent so much money and resources (personal life coach, tutors, books)in trying to make becoming a physician a reality, but until I make up my mind to just put myself first and JUST SAY NO! when I need to, then I will realize that my dream will come to fruition. It is my greatest fear that I will wake up and life has passed me by. I don’t care that others may say “I knew she couldn’t become a doctor”, but I do care deeply that one day I will say to myself "You didn’t try hard enough–What if?"
I am so grateful to everyone for their support. You have no idea how long I have wanted to post, but did not want to air these issues. Now, I realize that time was wasted in suffering alone.
I am working on plans to attend the 2005 conference. I did attend the 2004 conference in Denver and really had a great time!
Hope to see you all in June!

Im failing music appriciation (with a high D) but can build a satellite in my back yard!
my music prof is NUTS!

Hi, Im new here as of today…and transfering to UTA/hopefully UTSW…any advise? What about that over seas thing…how was it? i have considered, nothing will stop me from MD!
also, family/friends(?) have been trying to tell me…get a PA instead (I’m 36) less time in school, less debt when out, less responsibility (law suits) no ins…bla bla bla… can you tell me how bad the ins is? anyone out there know this dreadful amount? whta is the “cut-off age” for practicing as an MD? I always thought i could practice well into my 150th bday at least! (by then with as together as this bunch here are…we should have the cure for old age lol!)
seriously,I really would feel a lot better knowing the cons about MD, although I know every field has them, but if i can recognise, then i can prepare to jump them!
ins costs?
career exspectancy of an MD?
over seas?
Thanks in advance, your replies will help me brace for the herd when they try to stomple my dreams next time.

I am in the same boat. very discouraged. Ba in psych, ms in hrd, now 33 with 17mon old twins decided to go to med school. also need to start from scratch with all the pre med stuff. need $$ of course, know that i will come in debt of at least $150,000.00. any word of encouragement will be helpful. overseas is not an option for me, but in my home town, most of the MD have gotten their degree outside of the US and just done residency in the us.

HI there! I have a BA in psych too! I also have a Master’s in Education and now I’m going back and taking my pre-med sciences. I always knew I wanted to go back to school (to get my PhD in Psych - or so I thought) but was waiting until the kids were in school. (I have 4 awesome kids who I love very much and that aspect of my life has been fantastic!!)
I very nearly died in August. When I got better and started gaining some mental and physical energy I realized that I was not at all happy with my life as I was living it and sure as heck didn’t want to die never feeling fulfilled. So I headed back to school this spring. It’s been a tough semester and I think it’s going to blow my average which rots. (We had scheduled a family vacation before I decided to go back to school and it really put me behind)
I keep wishing I had started sooner because I look at how my course scheduling is working out and see how long it’s going to take just to get done with the pre-med stuff and sometimes I think “What the heck am I doing?” Should I wait 2 more years until even the youngest is in kindergarten? I’ll be too old. Will the kids suffer because of this? Am I being selfish? I already have 90k in student loans for the first two degrees and now I’m looking at med school? How am I ever going to pay it back??? I’m getting confused in class, I have no time to study…etc!
UGH!! I really dislike when those doubts start welling up!
Then, there are other times…when I’m in class or studying and suddenly something clicks and the topic we’re on becomes clear and it’s just a fantastic feeling. At those times I KNOW I can do it. I just wish the other times would stay away.
Unfortunatley, the only support I have in this venture is my 14 year old daughter who thinks it awesome. I am so glad I found this group. Without it I don’t know what I’d do. Just knowing that other people have many of the same doubts and struggles helps! I feel as though I’m not alone in this:-)
Best wishes to all of us!!!

I have a little advice to offer. Try not to count the years, or make your timeline too rigid. If you do, you may end up feeling like a failure if life takes a turn and you don’t finish as you had planned.
I have a BA in fine art. After making a huge switch in career aspirations, I started taking premed classes in the fall of 2000, just after my oldest daughter’s first birthday. I planned to finish in two years and be in medical school by fall 2002. But then life happened. My second daughter was born the summer after my first year of classes. She was very ill and we were told she was blind and may not ever talk, walk, or eat on her own, etc. I of course did not return to school the following fall, in order to care for her. She defied all odds and is now a healthy and incredibly energetic 3 year old (who is, by the way, not blind). So, after staying home a year with her, I went back to school and finished my premed work. I took my MCAT, didn’t feel well during the PS section and bombed it. I spent the whole summer studying and took it again. I did well and applied to 12 schools. I waited. I waited. I waited. I got one interview. I went to the interview, felt it went horribly, and went home to wait some more. Two weeks after my interview, I found out I was pregnant again. Unplanned, and of course very scary given what we went through with our second child. I finally got another interview in the spring and had to go through that interview very obviously pregnant. I was accepted to that school, and few weeks later got into the first school via the waitlist. ( I was rejected by all other schools without an interview. ) My son was due to be born just 2 weeks before the beginning of classes. I deferred my entrance for one year, refusing to put a baby that young into daycare.
And here I am today, in 2005, three years past my goal entrance date and I am cleaning my house and packing it up for the big move. I am thrilled. I no longer care that I was rejected by so many schools or that it is three years later than I had planned. It has been a long, crazy, very non-traditional road, but I am here. I have shed a lot of tears, had a lot of sleepless nights, and continue to have issues to deal with: leaving my baby at daycare, paying for this incredibly expensive education, asking my husband to leave a job he loves, etc, etc, like all of the rest of you. I just wanted to share my story so that you will know that it is possible, it can happen, you just can’t give up. Keep your eye on the goal and don’t set yourself up for failure by giving yourself a timeline. Just keep at it, and if it is really what you want, you will get there. Age is relative. Savor each moment, remember each struggle, each victory. Learn from this humbling process and push forward, knowing that it is not going to get easier anytime soon, but that it is worth the tears and the effort if indeed it is truely what your heart desires.
Take care, and good luck to all of you!

I’ve read some of your posts and you seem to be a considerate group as to others plights … so here goes:
I have my BS in Elem Ed and a M.Ed in Special Ed … presently LOATH my job and am wanting to go back to Med. School (interested in Family Med) … Anyhow, I’m 34 and my husband is not at all supportive. He tells me I am being selfish because “no 36 year old woman with a 4 and 6 year old should consider doing something like this … you would never see us” … along with the whole financial issues and the fact that I provide our family health insurance (he’s self employeed and we both have bad med. hist. so private won’t even talk to us). Any suggestions on how I can get him on board? Most of the posts I read were from people transferring from a somewhat similiar genre educationally … anyone from education? Any suggestions on how to ‘bridge’ over? If I do this I’ll have to spend the next year: teaching during the day, school at night to get in gaps of Sci. classes I need, and studying for MCAT before applying to Med. school in the Spring. Any advice??? Better yet … I would love some encouragement right about now!!!

My first bit of advice is to direct you to Mary Renard’s post about the “selfishness” of pursuing medical school. She wrote a thought-provoking response to a speaker who stated that “medical school comes first.” Mary has a down-to-earth, very real view of what it takes to keep your marriage while pursuing a dream. (Can someone post the link for TNGAL? I couldn’t find it.) Reflecting on Mary’s post will be helpful to you.
Second bit of advice: do not discuss the issue further with your spouse until you have done some research and can address his concerns with some concrete data. If he brings up the subject before you are ready, acknowledge him and tell him that you are researching the feasibility of your goal. Suggest to him that it would be better to talk about it later (give him a time frame to help him feel more at ease about delaying discussion of the topic). If he uncharacteristically badgers you or is uncharacteristically negative and critical of your goal, frame his behavior as something he’s doing out of ‘fear of the unknown/perception of potential harm.’ (Keep that to yourself, though. Don’t tell him that he’s being fearful and critical because it might start a fight! ) Avoid arguing agressively with him. All of this will help you feel less stressed out about his lack of support, and it should help him to see that you are taking his concerns seriously.
Third bit of advice (which you’ve alread started on): do research. Read the posts on OPM ‘family & spouses’ link; other OPMs have been in your shoes and you can find info and advice on family matters there. Research the types of health insurance available to med students and their families. You won’t have to do without health insurance but it will cost you. Schools usually make policies available to students and their families (I paid for a family policy during my MA program) or worst case scenario you pay for COBRA when you leave your teaching position (COBRA ensures you keep coverage but it is expensive – research the cost so you know what you are dealing with). Finally, research medical school loan limits so you can address your husband’s concerns about finances (come up with a feasible plan to pay off credit cards before you start school so you will have one less financial concern). Once you’ve gotten all of this information, present it to your husband in black-and-white. Reading a peice of paper that lays it all out will be more convincing than relying on ephemeral words spoken during your conversation. Give him time to take in the data/information you provide. If he needs further convincing, see if you can find other oldpremed spouses he can talk with about the experience. Once he’s favorable toward your goal, include him in the the planning of how you will succeed in your pursuit of a medical career.
Final bit of advice: don’t rush things. Don’t be in a hurry to convince your husband to accept the entire package; start by getting his support for your taking one pre-req in the Fall. If that semester seems to be going well, begin talk about the bigger, more complex plan of gaining admission to med school. Rushing and cramming in as many courses as you can handle will create the situation your husband fears: you will not be around your husband and children. A year is not a long time for adults to weather less “together time” but a year is close to forever for a child. Also, you might not do as well academically if you must juggle time with family, work, and a heavy load at school. It can create stress and resentment. Research the pre-reqs that you need, and develop a plan that will give you the most time for your children and spouse, while ensuring that you do well in your courses. (This is another part where Mary’s post is helpful).
Time is on your side. Don’t rush the process, enjoy it. There is a thread on OPM about the negative attitude some people have about older pre-meds/medical students. Read that thread, but especially heed the advice Boeing posted today:


There are a lot of medical schools out there. Some of them discriminate against applicants based on age, others don’t. Rather than banging your head on a door that’s closed because of the shortsightedness of an admissions bureaucrat, go where you are wanted and kick butt there…

Good luck with everything!

Anita has given a lot of really good, thoughtful advice here.
On insurance, a couple of things: I have a chronic illness (MS) and as a result take a REALLY expensive medication ($1000/mo), so I have always been really vigilant/paranoid about the health insurance thing. It’s definitely not something to be taken lightly. It might be worth talking to an insurance broker - an independent agent who handles policies for lots of different companies - to find out if you have any options at all. As Anita said, there will generally be health insurance offered to students. I didn’t get the impression that it was really GOOD insurance, and it didn’t seem geared to families, but it was something, and it was a group plan so you couldn’t be excluded. As a resident, you’ll also be offered insurance through your employer. Note that COBRA is only good for eighteen months and OMG it is expensive. When my husband got laid off while I was in med school, our COBRA family payment was almost $1000 a month.
But getting into a detailed discussion about insurance is getting way ahead of ourselves. As Anita noted, carefully figuring out these things and taking your time is the way to go. From your description, I don’t see how you’d be ready to take the MCAT this spring, for example, and since you’ve got a partner with serious misgivings, I think you’d possibly be sabotaging your relationship to push for that. Take your time, figure things out. There is little difference between 36 and 38, or 38 and 40. All of us are way older than the “typical” med student - so what’s a year or two?
You’ve invested years in your relationship with your husband, and made a lifetime commitment to your kids when you had them. (Those of us who naively thought that childrearing ended when they went off to college, or graduated or got married for that matter, can tell you that parenting NEVER EVER ends.) You’ve now got a goal that is a worthy one to pursue, but IMHO it is not worth pursuing at the expense of the life and relationships you have built to this point. So taking the time to figure out how to do this as a team is absolutely the way to go.
My post which Anita alluded to is here. I’m flattered that she and others have found it helpful. I just re-read it and still stand by what I said.
Good luck!

Well, there are idiots everywhere. Who knows what motivations that person has for saying you’d hate medical school but whatever their motivations you can bet it is something about them and not something about you.
I’d just focus on why you want to go to medical school and not worry about what anyone else thinks.

Well, for one thing have you considered being a D.O.? They are far more supportive of people coming to medicine from diverse backgrounds.
If you don’t like what you’re doing now, then I sure would change to something else. People never do anyone a favor staying in a career that they detest.
In my case, age, background (my BA is in Film and I was working on a masters in Computers when I got sick) and everything else meant very little to me. I developed a rare genetic condition that went undiagnosed for at least 10 years, probably longer and one day in my 40’s was told something to the effect of “this is hopeless, there is no treatment and no cure, go home and try to enjoy the rest of your time”. I went home but I did not sit back and try to enjoy my time, I fought and watched a few more patients die. Eventually I got things controlled, and I built a website, people began calling and telling me my own story over and over. A few brave souls tried what I was taking and got better and a couple who were diagnosed early never got very sick. I was home and on Social Security disability wondering what on Earth I was going to do with my relative health now that I had it back in this economy after 4 years of virtually ignoring my prior career which had been outsourced anyway. I spent 18 months taking courses trying to get interested in something at a local community college. Eventually my vocational rehab counselor and I together decided that being an osteopath was really the only option that made sense.
Ironically, the fact that I was NOT brainwashed into thinking in conventional medical terms very likely helped me figure out what to do to control this, using logic, common sense and a pile of medical journal articles that eventually led me to get geneitc testing and try taking amino acids and enzymes - two “alternative” treatments which have worked when everything in the conventional allopathic arsenal didn’t. I think in a way coming from another place to medicine may be an advantage, especially in an age of a rapidly growing pile of new information that no mortal can completely stay up to date on.
Don’t give up. And take your time. You’ll be done with medical school by the time you’re my age. It’s all relative anyway.

Adding to the copiuous comments here, I am 45 and was a VP (technical project manager) in a large bank, though virtually all of original classmates are MD and/or PhD now. Virtually, their first comment when I said I was trying to go to MD was negative, (though not nasty), usually how bad it was to practice medicine nowadays. I learned to listen to their second comment which was usually a specific challenge or hurdle I would face. And like a good project manager I took note of them and started developing ways to overcome those hurdles.
My “zen” comments to myself when I feel discouraged is there is simply nothing to lose in trying, other than a little time and a little money. If I were to fail completely, The worst possible outcome is simply back to my career in corporate america. I would be no worse off than if I had never tried. And every class I take in pre-med is win; it is a step higher on this slow climb up the mountain
The small committment now is nothing compared to the large amount of money and the years of time in medical school. Again, if I decide to drop out, I have lost very little, if anything in trying.