What is OldPreMeds how does it work?

I wish I could honestly say that OldPreMeds was meticulously planned from its inception…but that would be a lie. The original 6 of us met on The Princeton Review’s chat board and more or less bonded from the constant flack we took from the ‘kiddies’.

Long story made short, Jeff Casto had an idea that it’d be easier for the 6 of us to communicate through a e-mail list-serve. So, I agreed to co-manage it with him and we named it OldPreMeds to honor our thread title of choice on TPR: Old Fart Pre-Meds.

We started with only 6 in Jan '98 >>>> we now have over 750 members and, as you can obviously see, have recently launched a web site. By the way, this URL is only a temp home. The Student Doctor Network has agreed to host our web site, once we get some hosting conflicts worked out. There, we’ll be able to grow much quicker and the page will work much more quickly.

How does OPM work? It is very similar to the way medical education itself works. Those who are more senior in the process pass along their knowledge, experiences and wisdom to those who not quite as far along. To accomplish this, we have members of all ages (early 50s to early 20s) at all levels of training (pre-meds, med students, resident and attendings – even a Dean, an Asst Dean and a BioChem professor) who are willing, as they are able, to field questions of any sort about getting into or surviving medical school.

OPM directs its efforts toward the non-traditional students and their families. One of the most frustrating elements the orginal 6 found was a paucity of information beneficial to the non-trad on applying to med school. As non-trads, we have unique needs & responsibilities that must be addressed. So, decided to use OPM as a vehicle to accumulate, organize and distribute individual pearls of wisdom amongst ourselves and anyone else who cared to join us.

What started out as an informational and experiential exchange service has evolved into an electronic community. There is a connectivity, born of common struggles and experiences, that has bound many of us into long-distance friends. Many of us feel we have a vested interest in facilitating the success of the other members of OPM and we do as much as our own schedules permit to accomplish this. Many of us have met, in person, when traveling from place to place. I have been fortunate in meeting many of our members.

Eventually, as we generate our first OPM alumnus class - this year as a matter of fact - OPM will begin to serve as a networking tool for its members. Interested in a field of medicine? Simply look up the OPM alums in that area and contact them…maybe even apply for a clerkship with them.

We envision this to be an organization that always will direct its efforts to the needs of non-traditional students, from the early pre-med days all the way until you’re an attending. With each step, the member becomes more & more of a resource for those junior to him/her.

That is the concept, the vision, the dream that is OldpreMeds. To get the most out of OPM, or any other challenge in your life, always remember – you will only get out of something what you put into it. So, please…be an active member of OPM. Take advantage of what we are willing to offer you. In exchange, all we ask is that you give back, just as you received. There are no dumb questions. More than likely, someone else is out there wondering the same thing…so ask it. The answers you receive may just be that missing piece for you or another member.

I wish you all the best of luck and success!

Nice tweaking on the web site, OMD. It is much easier to follow new posts and threads now. Your time is appreciated I am sure by all, especially since we all know how busy you are studying. You know, for that, umm, lil’ test that you have coming up.

&#36hit…forgot about that little old test!! Seriously, bout to put down the keyboard and crack the books…again!

Let me tell you…if you plan to take both test series (USMLE & COMLEX) DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OTHER THAN THREAT OF LOSS OF LIFE, LIMB OR LIBERTY SCREW UP AND PUT IT OFF LIKE i HAVE DONE!!! It truly BLOWS to have to study medical trivial pursuit when you’d rather be working on patient problems & diseases!!!

Yikes, hope it all goes ok OMD. Thanks for the post, though (on the history of the site and how it works).


Yikes, hope it all goes ok OMD.

I’m sure it did go OK… that was almost 4 years ago!

LOL! Yeah, not only did that one (Step II); but Step III also went well - I passed. And that was waaaaaaay back in 2004. I still have yet to jump through all of the hoops to get my private real doctor’s license!

Yes I know its over 3 years ago, but I wanted to say something Looking back. I started almost 2 years ago and a lot happened since then,was accepted into a 6yr program, started med school 4yr, now transferred into another school to finish, become a Mod at VMD. From time to time I came back here to read and post to all of you awesome people. This is the MOST POSITIVE site on the internet for people like us! I read posts on other sites and to be honest there is way too much bashing and “I’m better than you out there”.

Old Premeds is about one thing, helping eachother and being a shoulder while we go after our dreams. Dreams are important in life without them not one thing would have been invented. Who should be Doctors? Each and everyone of us that take the time to study, care, and dream.

Thanks for this site. I came across it today for the first time, and it’s addressing a lot of the questions I’ve been asking myself (and, of course, spawning new ones as well ).
One thing that strikes me about OPM is that it seems like a very supportive environment… with that in mind, I think I’ll poke around a little bit more, then ask about a few specifics.

Hi, and welcome! Poke around all you like, and make yourself at home!

Welcome, it’s good to see new faces (so to speak).


I wish I could honestly say that OldPreMeds was meticulously planned from its inception…

I kind of lke the lack of planning that created this place, it makes it feel more like a fun place to hang out and learn about each other and the process than if it were planned more the way you mention. I think you have done a wonderful job of creating this site and growing it. I cannot thank everyone here enough for their support and advice and just being here. I feel like I may not say it enough but I have gotten so much from the convesations here and the advice. It’s nice to know other people have faced some of the same problems and experienced the same worries as me.

Yeah, I could certainly agree that “a lack of planning” was a strong characteristic of this Society! And, it does seem to put a homey, friendly touch on things - I prefer things to be informal.

Hi, all, I’ve been sitting with this for awhile & it suddenly occured to me there is a wealth of experience out there. Someone has gone through this before…
I applied last year, & got waitlisted. Yes, I know that is better than an outright rejection. However, it is really hard to enter this application cycle with a positive attitude. I think I’m scared silly – so silly I’m avoiding the topic of med school, preparation, and MCAT altogether. It’s just too heartbreaking, and I don’t believe I’ll get in.
Has anyone been there & have advice?

Just want to say thanks for this site. Been looking for such a “home” since I found out I was going to med school in 2003. Better late than never. I look forward to gaining the wisdom of you who have gone before.
Hilary Marsh
Faculty of Medical Sciences
University of the West Indies
Mona, Jamaica, W.I.

I’m new here and not sure how to post a new thread so posting it here.
Out of frustration with my career as a chiropractor, a few months back I applied to Caribbean school sans MCATs thinking I’m too old to apply to U.S. medical school and very intimidated by the MCATs. It was only after being accepted that I started really doing the research and found forums like this one showing that much older folks do apply and sometimes actually get in to stateside schools. Now, I’m kind of wallowing in the quagmire wondering what I really should do. I’m still far from sure I want to do this at my age, young 40s, and with family. Not sure I have the stamina for med school and residency and a bit concerned about the realities of real world managed care practice. Also, I’m frightened by the realization that I wouldn’t be starting my new career until almost 50. That aside, which makes more sense? Suck it up, eat another year, take the MCATs hoping for a competitive enough score for a shot at 2007 class, or just go to the Caribbean with all that entails. By the time I could even matriculate at a U.S. school, I would be just about ready to come back from the rock for rotations. Is it that much harder for Caribbean grads that it’s worth another year to at least go for it. Would very much appreciate feedback from those that have been there, done that.

Welcome to oldpremeds. It is tough to decide if you should stick it out one more year to take MCATs and see if your scores make applying to stateside schools practical. You have to decide how much strain or stress moving out of the country would be on your family and finances as their happiness will influence how you perform in med school (remember the line, if momma ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy). My guess is that staying in the states is less of a disruption to you and your family than moving abroad. If you stay in the states, it might be possible to work as a chiropractor part-time for extra income (yes, there is some free time during med school). I don’t know if this is possible abroad. Also, without intending to offend anyone, it is my impression that US residency programs and hospitals tend to favor US grads, as they believe they have undergone more rigorous training. I’m not stating that this is necessarily the case, but that is the perception you will encounter when it comes time to apply for residency and later a position or practice. So training stateside would offer this advantage. As for the decision to go to med school at all or live with what you are doing now… that’s one that you will have to decide on your own. If you are motivated by financial gain, then going to med school for 4 years and residency for at least three, aquiring large debt (unless you are independently wealthy now), and starting out in your 50’s is really not a sound approach to wealth. You will be hard pressed to break even compared to the income you will derive if you just continue working as a chiropractor. If however, you are unhappy and unfulfilled with the status quo, and are interested in doing something more challenging and gratifying, then perhaps the sacrifice and hard work will be worth it to you. I went back to med school in 97, and am just finishing a fellowship in regional anesthesia and will finally be making a full attendings salary starting July of 2006. It was 9 years of sacrifice and hard work, while accumulating a substantial debt for tuition, mortgage, daycare, etc. It was a strain on my spouse and kids. Financially, this course of action was a wash; by the time I retire I will have made the same income in my lifetime as if I has never gone to med school. But… and its a big but… I am now engaged in a profession which is exciting, challenging and fulfilling. I can work anywhere in the country (or the world for that matter) I choose. I work with cutting edge technology and make a real difference in my patient’s lives. (Sorry, I’m starting to sound like a commercial). My colleagues are fascinating folks from whom I learn something every day. I would never choose to go back to my previous life if I had to do it all over again. So, for me, it was worth going back. You have to decide if it will be worth it to you. There are many folks on this forum who are or were in your position. You are not alone. Keep asking questions, get different opinions, and then decide to decide. Good luck!


Also, without intending to offend anyone, it is my impression that US residency programs and hospitals tend to favor US grads, as they believe they have undergone more rigorous training. I’m not stating that this is necessarily the case, but that is the perception you will encounter when it comes time to apply for residency and later a position or practice.

I don’t think that could offend anyone, because it is most definitely the perception that I have picked up over the past two years as a pre-med. I have had 2 docs and the head pre-med advisor at my University all say…nearly a quote "Whatever you do, do NOT opt out for a carribean school. They will make it sound like they can compete with U.S. schools when you get out, but they can’t and won’t."
I am probably about as old as you, and also have a very established profession, with a 6-digit income. I and my family have been prepping for the transition to having comparatively no money during school for two years now, but I wouldn’t want to put them through the additional stress of moving out of country. That’s just too many changes at once, imo. I would say it’s worth it to attack the MCAT, especially if you are really that afraid of it. My reason is, med school is going to be one hell of a challenge in itself for you - in regards to the changes you and your family have to go through, as well as the rigors of the school itself. If you aren’t able to tackle the things it takes to get into school in the first place, how else are you going to be able to test whether this is something you have the determination to do? If you don’t really want it, then there’s no better way to find that out. At least that’s been my experience. I want it so bad that everything I should be seeing as an enormous obstacle, I have been seeing as more of an inconvenience at worst, and an exciting challenge at best…for over two years now.

Hi bjg,
Was just writing u a long epistle about my experience and hit the esc button in error (shhh! don’t tell anyone). So here goes again - and this will be the short version. When I got to university in 1991, I intended to do medicine. No such luck. I applied 3 times to no avail but all my friends were getting in. I gave up, went and did a Masters in Applied Chemistry at University of Toronto, saw some of the world, then came back to Jamaica.
I could find no work in my chosen filed and became a glorified secretary, got fired and then became a pharmaceuticals sales rep. God has a funny sense of humour. My key account was the hospital where my old university friends were now doctors in training, strutting around with stethoscopes in tow. At that time, although the money from my job was GOOOOOD (I miss that by the way), I was bored with saying the same things over and over with no challenge. I felt the brain atrophy and I felt that I had something greater to do with my life. I felt the pangs of medical school again. I spoke with a client of mine and told him how I was feeling. He told me to apply. It couldn’t hurt. At the very least, I would have given it my best shot, and if I did not make it, I would put the whole thing to rest once and for all.
I got in to start in 2002 but deferred for a year. Simply for financial reasons. But now I am here in my 3rd year. It came full circle. So I say all that to say, your waitlisting is not a rejection, but when it is your time to do something, it can’t be a minute earlier or a minute later. You have one foot through thei door. I know the US application system is different from ours but I think that you will make it. I would say use this waitng time to tie up any loose ends and get your mind in gear for what is ahead.
Attitude is everything and once the right attitude is in place, you are one-third the way there. It won’t come over night but work on being positive. There will be days when that is all u have.
Chin up. I expect to hear good things from you.

Welcome to OPM! You’ve got a big decision ahead of you, one which, as I’m sure you would agree, should involve your family. As a separate issue from medical school, I think moving your family to a new country can be a very positive experience for them if they’re up to it. The benefits of living in and experiencing another culture are amazing. Regarding Caribbean vs. U.S. medical schools, something to think about is what type of specialty you’d like to practice and in what geographic region you and your family would like to be. I think it is VERY common, perhaps even the majority of the time, for rural physicians to be foreign medical graduates. I believe some of the Caribbean schools actually graduate the greatest number of students (compared to U.S. medical schools) who eventually become rural physicians. (Dr. Bowman, who is speaking at the OPM conference in June, may touch on this.) Many people will say to avoid the Caribbean route, but my personal feeling is much of this is coming from people who have these biases based upon generalizations they’ve come to believe without having actually done any kind of research. Do your research, find out where doctors from the school you’ve been accepted are practicing, speak directly with them to find out what kind of walls they’ve encountered, etc. And, of course, talk at length with your family.
Whatever your decision, good luck with the process!
OH YEAH, and if you can make time, try to get to DC for the OPM conference in June. It’s filled with great speakers and great networking opportunities.

Thanks for the replies. I’d like to compliment all posters here as all the posts I’ve seen are cordial, with well thought out, helpful answers. It’s hardly like a forum at all, LOL. Sam, your post did get me thinking. I applied to a Caribbean school after doing a rather exhausting search on the pros and cons of Caribbean route. In fact, as Larry suggests, many people do get licensed after going to some of the Caribbean schools and are perfectly happy with both their education and standing. Yeah, there’s some prejudice, but not like what it used to be. Fact is, though, most people choose Caribbean route after not getting into U.S. schools. I thought, due to my age, that it is probably the only practical way to go. I’ve learned from here and other sites, however, that people even older than me have gone to American med schools. So I’ve decided to at least tackle the big, bad MCAT and see what happens. In the grand scheme of things, I’ve decided that what does it matter if I go to med school at 42, 43, or 44? At least I’ll have no regrets about not even trying to get in here.
As for the decision of even wanting to go to med school in the first place, that’s another story. I still waiver constantly because when I think of what practicing health care in general has become, my stomach starts to churn. But one thing at a time.


As for the decision of even wanting to go to med school in the first place, that’s another story. I still waiver constantly because when I think of what practicing health care in general has become, my stomach starts to churn. But one thing at a time.

I hear you totally… it’s definitely a double-edged sword maybe? Not sure if that’s the best metaphor. I think for me the decision has come to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem though, if that makes sense.