Where to start?

Lurked for a while and decided to join.

My question is on where to start. I did my undergrad at night in business, and did ok. (3.15 - nothing special) I’ve worked the last 10 years in budget management in higher ed, and at one point worked for a medical school. During that time, I became pregnant, and later a mother and was there for 3 years. It was during those years I began to have an interest in medicine, mostly because I encountered a lot of bad doctors during my pregnancy and the children’s early years. However with brand new twins, that was not the time to go back to school.

Now my kids are older, about to start kindy and I am looking to start taking classes. I am taking a basic chem class (a pre-101 level course) this fall since it’s been a while since I have had any chemistry. And while I have dreams of going to medical school and being one of the “good guys” I don’t know if I’m cut out for it. I have no clinical background, I have never worked with patients, but I do have an interest anyway. I’m guessing that I will start my class this fall, and see if I’m interested in continuing, and I can keep enrolling if I am.

I was considering volunteering at the local VA hospital since they can always use help. The are I would want to practice is family medicine, or at least that is where my interest is right now. Is that a good choice for getting some volunteer experience?

Anyone in a similar boat with success stories? (Meaning getting into med school?) It seems that most everyone is here younger with a clinical background and it would be easy to see why they would want to go to med school. I’m a little older (late 30s) with two kids, work full time and would be taking my pre-reqs at night. I go through stages, where I’m 100% sure this is what I want, and then my confidence falls and then I’m convinced that it’s a pipe dream. But I’m trying to push through that issue by taking one class at a time.

I know this post is long, but I have one more question where I would like advice. I am considering transferring jobs back to where I got my undergrad. This would mean my tuition would be free at night. I was thinking of taking a few classes before I formally enroll in their post-bac program. Is it necessary to enroll in the post-bac program? Would it look better on applications? It’s a well known school, but only one of the schools I’m considering is on their linkage program. I’m looking mostly at Osteopathic schools, and they don’t link with any of those.

Any and all advice is appreciated.

Get started, don’t quit. The prereqs are a means to and end not the end itself. You want to be physician not a chemist. Make the decision and ride it till the wheels fall off.

BTW this is the OLD premeds forum, there are plenty of over 30 year olds here.

Welcome! I’m one of the “older” folks but I DO have a clinical background, but before I did, I was already interested in med. That’s fine.

Volunteering at the VA is a great idea. Start early (now) and do lots. Also, if you have done any other volunteering (non-medically related) --church, SPCA, whatever, write it down now, estimate the number of hours, and find out a contact person’s info that can speak to you having done that time. That way you will have this info when it comes time for you to fill out your AMCAS/ACOMAS applications.

Getting your feet wet with an intro chem class is a good idea. You will likely NOT be able to get the prereqs you need mostly at night, so think about how you could accomodate day classes/labs. Re the post-bac program, here in my mind are the pluses and minuses.

  1. you can get the prereqs done in a concentrated schedule that may save you time vs a DIY (do it yourself) scheduling. Plus you will likely have first priority in scheduling and thus get in those classes when you need them.

    2)You MAY have special sections for the postbac students which are smaller. Or not. Plus side -better chance to get help from and get to know your professors. Down side - everyone wants an A so competition can be stiff in classes. This works against you if they grade on a curve.

  2. Linkage - this helps only if you are planning to go to that school AND you meet their criteria. Find out what you have to do in the program to get an interview and what percentage of postbac grads get into the school. May NOT be your best shot.

  3. Generally, good advising. Most postbacs have some help with the application process. They may offer MCAT prep courses, they may go as far as mock interviews, they may help you out a lot. Or, you may be on your own.

    Down sides:

  4. not exactly a down side, but I wouldn’t count on having done a post-bac “looking better” than doing it yourself. I don’t know that there is any particular preference among med schools for this. They just want to know you got the prereqs, hopefully at a 4 year school, and that you did well.

  5. the concentrated schedule that helps you get done in time means you are taking a heavy courseload each semester - MORE than full-time hours. This can make it less likely for you to get the stellar grades you are hoping for. Although med schools DO look favorably on you doing well in such a program, because it show you can probably handle the pace of med school. My post-bacc was almost as rigorous as my first year of med school, so I came in with the study habits I needed.

    3)way more expensive -to do a post bacc vs pay tuition just for the courses you need. Do the math. Worth it for me (got done in 1 year, only had to borrow one year’s living expenses, moved ahead faster).

    Hope that helps out some. Interested in why you are looking more at osteopathic schools. I obviously chose that …I like it, and I think is very good if you are planning on family med, which I am.



Medical schools really look at the Prereqs you did and how well you did them. If it was a postbacc program it won’t really look better or worse on applications because its about the classes. They want you to be prepared for the medical curriculum basically and you have to prove you can handle it.

I went through the same thing about wondering if I was following an unachievable dream. It’s part of your transition of your decision to change careers, a decision that can cause problems if you don’t succeed but can help if you do succeed. My best advice is to look at it as an all or none decision but also have a back up plan. Having a backup plan is a fail safe. Some may disagree but I think it would be a bad move to not have a backup plan. My backup is a pharmaceutical Phd program to do research with physicians and patients on the next generation of drugs.

The VA is a good place to start volunteering. I’m a veteran myself, volunteers are welcome and appreciated.


Make a plan that is well thought out including funding, make 2 backup plans, stay in the all or none mindset. Make friends in the sciences, since we’re older, I made friends with a lot of the TA’s. don’t be shy to ask questions during office hours, this shows them you truly are trying and is a good time for you to mention your goals and the challenges being nontraditional. A lot of professors are helpful, a few may not care at all. But since you’re all or none, go all in and do what you set out to do.

I hope I motivated you, I hope you succeed!!

Who you calling “younger”??? It is “old” pre meds after all

Thanks to everyone so far for the wonderful advice.

I should add that I live in a metro city that is filled with large universities, hospitals and medical schools, so I would be looking at local medical schools since I will be dependent upon my husband’s income to support the family while I am in school. 2 of the schools I am looking to get the pre-reqs done have evening/weekend class and lab hours, so I know I could do this while working full time. (for now)

The reason I’m looking at an Osteopathic school is because honestly, they were the only doctors who listened to me when I was going to various doctors with the kids. I went to all of the top ranked hospitals and doctors and they listened to me for a total of 10 seconds and then would cut me off and never bothered to fully see me, the parent, as a team in my child’s health decisions. I was completely railroaded. I found a DO, and my experience was (thankfully) completely different. And every other DO I have seen since that time has been the kind of doctor I want to be, kind, caring, and respectful of the patients. That was the reason I started looking into osteopathic schools, and it happens that I live about 20 minutes from a good one.