Very Non-Traditional Student - Career Change

Hi Doc and All:

So, I’ll try to make this as short as possible, but it’s a long story.

I’m a VERY non-traditional student (49y/o). I waited almost 10 years to go to college. (mainly money issues within the family, and I didn’t feel comfortable putting my family in a financial burden just to go to school). When I finally went to college, I was in the Pre-Med program at Oklahoma State University. I was doing well (3.8’ish GPA)…while I was in school, my father got really sick, my mother was an alcoholic, we had a family farm, and the stress and time commitment was just too much, and I made the decision to drop out and take care of my father. I don’t regret that, because I did get to spend a lot of time with him, and I would have to say that he lived many more years that he otherwise might not have with me around to help take care of him, so I don’t regret that.

Fast forward to today…I worked my way up in the IT field, so a VP of Technology, got laid off April 2020, due to Covid and lack of revenue at my previous company. There was a university in Michigan offering free tuition for anyone affected by Covid, so I took advantage of it to get a Cybersecuirty degree as a resume augmentation degree (and I’ve never had one, so it would also open up so more doors). However, now that I’m back in school, I’m really getting the bug to go to Med School like I had originally planned.

I’m currently carrying a 4.0. I’m a Senior and slated to graduate Winter 2022/Spring 2023 (depending on how we slate my classes). I don’t have room in my schedule to pick up the things that I missed out on the first time around (Organic Chem, Physics…probably about another year if I go back for pre-req’s)

I’m torn…I want to graduate and finish my degree, I started it, I need to finish it. I THINK this would help my application to show that I can finish what I start, that being said, I’ll be short on the pre-req’s that most medical schools require.

So then the question is, do I go back post-bac or grad school? Or do I find a bridge program for people changing careers. I do know that OK State’s DO school offers a career change/disadvantage student Bridge program (which I’m both).

I worked for the Red Cross for several years, so I do have a lot of clinical hours directly working on patients. I was also my father’s primary caregiver, in fact if I hadn’t known how to read a chart from my experience in Healthcare IT, he might have died while he was in the VA’s care. (His hematocrit was dangerously low, and required 4 units of blood…had I not caught that and brought it to the staff’s attention, he could have died that night). I’ve worked with several doctors, not quite shadowing, but in the realm of Healthcare IT, such that I know enough to understand what I’m getting myself into. (that’s a whole other discussion) …and I do need to take the MCAT. So apart from the pre-req’s, I think I can present a very strong application, I’m torn with what I need to do going forward, and what’s the best option for me.

Hi Trav1856,

I’m currently a non-trad premed student too. I see no one’s given you any info so I’ll give you some tips from what I’ve learned thus far.

The pre-reqs really depend on the school or schools that you will be applying to. Great job on the GPA; keep it up! But if you do not have all the pre-reqs for that school completed or aren’t at least enrolled in those courses by the time you apply…you’re basically giving the school a donation via application fee. I would look at each school’s websites independently for starters. Some of them don’t even have pre-reqs but they strongly recommend some courses such as biochemistry, chemistry, biology, etc.
Also, the MCAT has ALOT of Science questions. From psychics to biochemistry. So in my opinion, one way or another, it will benefit you down the road to learn about the material. So I would try to do an informal post-bacc for those core science courses. And if you do well in those science classes, that’ll be another reason for your potential medical schools to give you a chance.
You have alot of work and life experience and that is an advantage. You can use your experiences to write your personal statement and help you stand out.
I’d also try to get some more current shadowing experience. I know right now its difficult due to the pandemic, but you should really try to learn as much as you can to make sure that being a physician is REALLY what you want. As a career changer, I feel like you’ll have to answer more questions about “Why medicine NOW?” rather than “Why medicine?”. I hope this information helps. And best of luck on your journey!