Where am I?

This is a newbie post; I will appreciate all replies.
After lurking around this forum for a few days, I’d like to air a few questions.
I’m 50, Canadian, have had a successful business career, am not afraid of hard work, have always wanted to become a doctor, and now want to tackle this new project!
But first, a few words about my background:
Obtained Bachelors Degree, Math & Computer Science, McGill, 1977, GPA 3.65, Great Distinction
Obtained Junior College Degree, Science – Biology option, GPA 3.9, McGill, 1974
20 year career in information technology
Wish to practice medicine in non-urban setting after graduating
I plan to apply for admission to the 2007-2008 academic year;
And now, on to my questions - relating to preparation for application.
I plan to attend a one year course of study to meet the ‘specific requirements’; these would include one year each of University Biology, University Chemistry, and Physiology; does this sound right?
I took College level Biology, Chemistry & Physics in which I got excellent scores - but that was 30 years ago; what do I do to prepare for my prep-year?
I plan to write the MCAT test in August 2006. Does that sound right?
Is this plan conducive for an application to be admitted for the session starting August 2007?

Thanks in advance!

Where are the schools you are wanting to attend. Here in the US you will also need 1 year of Organic Chemistry and 1 year of Physics, and I am not aware of any school that require physiology, mot that it is a bad to class to take. You can actually wait until April of 2006 to take your mcat exam if you want to study more. Eacch school has different requirements, you may want to check each school you are applying to and make sure that you have all of your pre recs completed.

I’ve only looked at two schools so far; McGill University (English), and University of Sherbrooke (French language, in Quebec);
McGill has well published ‘requirements’ including as you suggested, Marcia, Orgo I and II; however, they make no mention of Physics.
Sherbrooke on the other hand don’t show any reqs on their site - I’ll need to get in touch with them. Also, with Sherb., MCAT scores aren’t required, because as a French Uni. they don’t ask that you write an English test. They subtitute their own admission test which is non-scientific - meaning no bio./chem./physics. I need to find out more about that.
I am planning to give myself the most time by writing the MCAT (for McGill) in August06.
My question for now though, how do I get back in the swing of things? I took out my old Orgo text from decades ago, and to put it frankly seems quite foreign at the moment. Should I get college level Coles notes to refresh things a bit??!!

Take a look at the MCAT prep books to see whether enough will come back to you. The level of o-chem on the MCAT isn’t all that high, but what you need, you need to know very well. I used ExamKrackers for my MCAT prep, but others swear by the Princeton Review or Kaplan. The broader overview in the review books may give you a better idea of where to start your own review.

Yes I would suggest looking at the mcat prep books as a refresher. In the Medical School Admission Requirements McGill says here that they do require 6 hrs of physics with lab. Sherbrooke has many requirements listed: Chemistry, Biology, Calculus, College math, Organic Chem, Physics and Other, they also have other recommended bu tnot required: Behavioral Sciences, Humanities, Psychology, and socal sciences.
I would also suggest that you contact these schools directly and confirm this information.

I echo what Marcia said, I believe it is imperative that you immediately talk to the schools you’re interested in. We’ve had only a few Canadians on our site but all of them have shared the impression that Canadian schools are distinctly less friendly to non-traditional students than are US schools. Before you follow through on your carefully-laid-out plans, you’d be best advised to talk directly to the schools who’ll be evaluating your application.
Do NOT wait until you’re closer to applying to talk to them - many schools will decline to talk to you when you’re an official applicant (or close to being official) because they feel it gives you an unfair advantage over applicants who haven’t called them up. So talk to them NOW, well in advance of applying.

I stand corrected with respect to requirements for both those universities - I had misinterpreted some of that info. Thanks for pointing that out.
I now have to grapple With regards to my being a non-traditional profile. Neither of the two universities I am currently contemplating say anything specifically on this. I’m calling tomorrow!



Neither of the two universities I am currently contemplating say anything specifically on this. I’m calling tomorrow!

I applied and was accepted to McGill this past year into their international quota. I asked them early on if they had an age cutoff (I’m 32), and they answered me in a really vague fashion saying that basically said they look at the person’s whole application. I felt throughout the process of applying there that they were just as open-minded as any American school I have dealt with, although I suppose it may depend on who you talk to within the school. (They do have a minimum required MCAT score though–a 30, maybe? Also, a huge number of the McGill med students come straight from high school at age 19, so there might be some culture shock issues.) I got a pretty different impression from the University of Toronto on the other hand.
I would be sure to contact all the schools you might apply to, and get as much information from them as you can about how they regard non-traditional applicants, and what their requirements are.
Good luck and welcome to OPM!

I would definitely talk to the schools to which you are interested in applying. Specifically, will these schools prefer more recent coursework in lieu of older coursework. Some med schools want recent science coursework, while others want more advanced science work (i.e. upper division biomedical and biochemical classes) rather than repeated older science coursework.

Retaking the basic sciences will improve ones ability to handle the MCAT.

I’ve gone one researching what lies ahead of me - and found some good, and some not so good news!

Not so good:

It looks like my science & bac. degree date too far back for me to enter a one-year course of Bio, Chem, Orgo, & Physics. It appears I need to review college material.

On the other hand:

I can probably review college material in 1 (maybe 2) semesters, then do the prep year.

Also, very encouraging, Dalhousie Medical school (in Canadian maritimes) welcomes people who ‘opt for a medical career later on in life’.

Conclusion, for now I’m looking at a setback in timeline - but I’m pushing on.

But on to some questions for the audience:

I keep reading that volunteering and shadowing doctors can positively influence an application.

Is shadowing meant for high-school/freshmen? How will a surgeon/anesthetist/ER/doctor view a 50 year old telling them he’s contemplating a medical career and asks some of their valuable time to shadow them?

I’ve looked up several hospitals in the neighborhood and plan to volunteer time. Any specific areas I should call first?


Hi Rene. I’m 34 and have been shadowing with a doctor this summer. The experience has been phenomenal and he has been very supportive, and at times even seems a little impressed, with my decision to pursue medicine at a later stage than most students. I think if you make any potential shadowed physicians aware of your non-traditional status and leave it up to them as to whether they want to work with you then you’ll have nothing but their support as you shadow them.

I now have a better grasp of ‘where I am’.
After speaking to numerous schools, and having a better understanding of ‘specific requirements’, and considering the length of time I’ve been away from school, and reading threads on this site, etc … I have a plan!
I basically need to redo everything.
Fortunately my college and university scores, though they date back some 25 years, were quite good: GPA 3.9 in college (general sciences), and GPA 3.67 in university (Math & Comp. Sc).
So, I’m signing up at a local university here in Montreal in a full-time biology program. I plan to invest the next two years in preparing for and obtaining top-notch MCAT scores, doing volunteer work, and possibly shadowing doctors. At 3 courses per semester over 5 semesters, I will at the very least be refreshing Calculus, Biology, Chem, Org.Chem and Physics. In the last session I plan to add one of Cell & Molecular biology, Biochemistry or Physiology – the idea being to lay groundwork for the MCAT.
With this carefully layed-out plan, I do meet specific requirements of a number of Canadian English & French language med. Schools. For now, it looks like I could be applying to 5 or 6 institutions.
MCAT date: August 2007.
I can’t wait!
I’m not asking any specific question in this thread, but feel free to comment!


Rambling thoughts … Why did I ever turn down that conditional offer to a 5 year program way-back at the tender age of 19? Ah well, so is life!

Congratulations on coming up with a plan, Rene! Your enthusiasm shows through in your post and that will serve you well. Be sure to keep us posted on your progress. Bonne chance!