Who in the hell is OldManDave?

Who is this OldManDave guy and why has he created this organization and web site? Well, let me just tell you…a story ‘bout a man named Jed, poor mountain man who barely kept his family fed…WHOOPS! Wrong story!!

Seriously, if you’d asked me at age 6, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would have quickly returned: Doctor, astronaut or a truck-driver. Well, at 6’ & 275# I am waaaay too big to fit in those tiny space ships, long distance driving is BORING; so I had no choice but to become a physician. That was the intent when I hit college.

However, to be straight - I majored in partying and minored in fraternity and ended up having to withdraw from school in the fall of '87 to avoid academic expulsion – 93 hours w/ a cumGPA ~ 1.25. I knew then that there was no way on God’s green Earth I was ever getting into med school.

So, I chose to work in allied health as a cardiac monitor tech. There I met a Ph.D. (still teaches at the U of Ark med school - cardiophysiology) who told me if I wanted it badly enough, the BEST chance he could see for me is to get a clinical degree/license, meaning nursing or respiratory therapy, & work a few years to demonstrate perserverance and dedication. Then, go back & re-do a complete BS and kick some major @&#36&#36 with the grades.

That journey started in ~'88. After ~10 years as a resp terrorist, at 33 years of age (in 99) & armed with my new magna cum laude BS in neuroscience from UTDallas, I entered med school in the fall of '99 at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. I have never worked harder, been so academically abused nor loved any challenge more than this. I cannot envision how empty I would feel had I not done this. Living my life’s dream with my soulmate at my side, Wendy - my wife, I know that one day I will die a contented man safe in the knowledge that I led a charmed & full life.

Now, I am starting the second half of my 3rd year…I am 18 mos from my residency. I still have to occasionally pinch myself to make certain that I am awake. It has been a very long and, at times, very difficult journey.

Would I do it again? Absolutely!

Do I regret how my course was plotted? Not really…wish I were younger, but I truly am content & comfortable with “who” I am and most likely would not have luxury if I had taken the traditional route.

Would I receommend this route to someone else? No

Most common question I am asked: I have (insert deficit/problem/commitment of choice) in my background, can I get into med school? Yes you can, if you are willing to make the sacrifices, do the work and put in the long hours required to do it.

Next most common: Is it worth it? For me, undoubtably YES – for you, ONLY you can answer that…and I strongly recommend very deep introspection and communication with yourself & those who’ll be undertaking the journey with you before you make your decision.

I wish you all the best of luck and success in your journey through life. Always remember, Nothing Risked; Nothing Gained! – OldManDave, year uncertain


This is truly inspirtional to me. Thanks for sharing it!


Thanks – I took the long, scenic route…but wouldn’t trade it for anything, except maybe to be a few years younger but retain all of my knowledge & experience.

Well, ‘boss’, I hear you about taking the long, scenic route. It seems that many non-trads have seen their share of ups and downs. It is really encouraging to read all of the posts here and at the email group and realize that having academic down times does not mean the end to the dream of being a physician. I have found myself getting so down because of those red marks on my record that I have considered giving up. It is inspirational to realize that with the desire and motivation this dream can still become a reality.

Thanks for a great web site, Dave.


You know I somehow think this should be posted under FAQ for whenever someone posts a “I got a B in a class can I still get in?” type question on the SDN forums. I think the determination you show through this story is quite amazing. I have not had an ‘unblemished’ academic record but I must admit if you had told me the story up to the point of the 1.25 GPA and asked “Will this guy ever get into med school?” I am pretty certain I would have said “No”, and I normally count myself as an optimist/someone who believes anything can be done. I’ll have to remember to be even more positive in future! You’ve clearly really earnt where you have got to and I’m sure this amount of determination will only continue to serve you into the future and residency.

thanks for sharing your story :)


Thanks Alex…I’m just hard headed! I simply believe that, other than lactation, menses and child-birth, there is nothing I cannot do if I want it badly enough. That doesn’t imply achieving my golas was/has been easy…it is simply a matter of setting the end goals, and achieving a series of smaller goals along the path.

And, not everyone thinks of my journey as an achievement. Not too long ago, when providing my story as an inspiration, one of our younger bretheren on SDN chastised me by asking if I really felt the having been a failure in the past was supposed to actually signify that I was a success now. He went on to claim to have done it right the first time was a much greater deed.

Oh well…just can’t win them all. Of course, I am damned near a senior medical student and the turd above is still awaiting a “yes” letter…but hey, he did it right the first time!

<sorry, I have had NO sleep! Surgery call last night…admits & trauma until 4am…slept until 6:30 when I was called for another trauma…work up, H&P and to the OR…then, I got to do a foot ulcer debridement all by myself! Then rounds, a couple of consults, see my ICU patient…now it is time for BED!>

Quote :

"not everyone thinks of my journey as an achievement. Not too long ago,
when providing my story as an inspiration, one of our younger bretheren on
SDN chastised me by asking if I really felt the having been a failure in the
past was supposed to actually signify that I was a success now. He went on
to claim to have done it right the first time was a much greater deed"

He thinks he did it right the first time? Maybe in grades, but it sounds like the SDN-er in question forgot about the ‘compassion and understanding’ and ‘common humanity’ bits. Jeez!! I wonder if he will get through all of medical school without making any errors!? I think every struggle is worthy of admiration - regardless of how the initial barriers were erected - and I’m glad you have used yours to positive effect.

It is unfortunate, but the current system of educating and selecting pre-meds for medical school do not emphasize “compassion & humanity”. In fact, if anything, it de-emphasizes those characteristics and places the predominant focus upon competition and rivalry.
Ironically, medical eduation itself is, and has been, undergoing a reformation to include humanism and humanistic qualities. Our future clientele demand this of us in addition to competence in the healing arts. Even post-grad training has begun the process of becoming more user-friendly & humane…although it has a looooong way to go! But, so did medical school 20 years ago.
But, the pre-med sector seems to have been left behind in these processes. In the context of ‘trickle down’ economics, where and who will be the driving force that demands these changes take place? I think the medical school sthemselves will drive it as the selection process evolves to necessarily select candidates to fulfill the newly expected/demanded humanstic-physicians of tomorrow.

Thank you Dave for being honest and sharing your story with us. Too many physicians/medical students are unwilling to encourage others - they would prefer to have you think that they were all geniuses. I attended a premed conference at Cornell University and the presenters started off by saying - If you do not get all A's in your science courses - then forget about applying to med school - especially here. No one would look at your application. That was such a discouraging tone to start off with which led to a major distraction.
The post bac. program at Columbia University also have a similar view. They wont accept any student whose GPA is under a 3.0.
Again - I thank you - you and the others who have shared their stories are truly inspiring.

A big part of the problem is that is seems that many of the most verbal folks on the process of getting in fit exactly into the pat paradigm of the traditional student who made great grades throughout their academic life. If it's all you know, then it is all you can speak to…and we know differently. Yes, as a medical student, you will encounter far more folks who fit their story – the one that is so discouraging. However, you will also discover that you are not a unicorn amongst the horses…you may be a bit of a zebra, depending on the school…but definitely not a unicorn.
The reason I tell my story so openly is that I have nothing to be ashamed of…period. Like everyone else, I have had my ups & downs and made a few very bad choices. Through determination, a solid work-ethic and the willingness to make the necessary sacrifices, I have repaid my 'debt' and earned my way into what is probably the most competitive of all professions to enter. By telling my story, I can demonstrate, first-hand, that even a collection of major screw-ups do not automatically eliminate you from consideration.
The most critical aspect of the approach of the non-traditional applicant, you must KNOW that you are capable of succeeding and demonstrate this w/o appearing aloof or arrogant. Then, it all comes down to how you represent yourself on paper, on the phone and in person. But, that belief in yourself will inexorably color the way you portray yourself through these media – so you must have the belief in yourself.
In no way do I advocate even the slightest of embellishment or cover up. You must take ownership of the events of your life and demonstrate that you have learned from those experiences and demonstrate that you are fully capable of succeeding in the rigorous environment of medical school. Notice I said demonstrate. That is because simply claiming this attribute means nothing unless you can unequivocally back up your claim through objective & subjective performance.
As frustrating as those sorts of advisors go, I honestly do not feel that their intent is malicious. In fact, what they are saying is probably more truthful/applicable in the context of a traditional applicant, because they generally have virtually nothing beyond a GPA & MCAT score to demonstrate their abilities. But with a non-traditional, you have an entire lifetime of achievement from which to draw elements to substantiate your claim that you can succeed not only as a medical student, but also as a resident and as a physician.
In essence, their intent is golden; but their application leaves a bit to be desired…but how can they know this without ever having walked in your shoes?
Think about this the next time someone is blowing rhetoric up your shorts…do not condemn them or engage them in verbal sparring simply to prove them incorrect. Do, however, engage them in a manner that allows you to educate them about things that you know to be true, but lie outside their own experiences. If you go about this in a collegial, non-confrontational manner, you just may turn a 'nay-sayer' into a staunch advocate…at the very least, it may put some hesitation into them before they inadvertently pop the inspirational balloon of another non-traditional seeking to follow his or her dream.

OldManDave, that’s a great story.
I can relate to your original dream of being a doctor, but going wayward. I, too, majored in slacking and resenting my parents in college. And while I was a Bio major, my grades stank. I did well on the MCAT, but no school would take me.
So, the quick fix, recommended by family and friends, was to go to law school. If not med school, then law school, right?? WRONG! :p
I’m taking stock of my four years of working in law and finding that I do not have the moral deviousness sometimes required by my esteemed profession. And of course that never completed goal of becoming a doctor.

You are on the money, med school does not equal law school…and both can be the right choice, depending on the individual. Even though it appears that law was not your correct cup ‘O’ tea, I think you will find it to be a huge asset and very marketable for you once your through with med school. Believe me, Docs NEED some education on the intricacies of law…we speak “medical” and they speak, God only knows?
Best of luck to you on your quest!! I think we have at least one other member who has a similar background…MDJD, I think?

I have a similar background, but I completely do not understand the following statement:

I’m taking stock of my four years of working in law and finding that I do not have the moral deviousness sometimes required by my esteemed profession.

As one of my law school professors said, dishonesty in the practice of law is guaranteed to catch up with you, and you’ll make far more money and be much happier if you always take the high road. “Moral deviousness” is neither required nor tolerated.

Well “Old Man Dave”, 33 is not so old. When I heard about you from other posts, I envisioned someone in their 40s or 50s. Still a good story about how tenacity will pay off in the long run. Since I’m just 30, I guess I have just 3 years left before I can call myself “Old Man Mark”. (And I thought the big 3 0 was bad…)
It would be great to hear from others that gained entrance at an even older age. It would also be very interesting to hear from those that have studied in international universities. Someone made a webpage related to the Caribbean med schools and the process of obtaining residency in the US but I would like to hear about the rest of the world. I’m attacking this from all angles. If their is a section or post for international med students let me know…

Regarding the “OldManDave” moniker…I hold my wife to be primarily responsible. When we first met one another, I worked 7p-7a at Arkansas Children’s Hosp (yes, the same one that was recently featured in a nationally broadcast 4 hour special). Since she is 6 years my junior and I frequently made jokes about being/feeling old; so she began calling me “Old Man” & labelled my ever-present coffee mugs with it. That was ~1993.
Spring forward to '96, when I returned to college to start this journey, I realized that there would be some predjudice for me to contend with – it hit me full-force. When I interviewed with the then College Master, he not-so-politely informed me that I would be very out of place there and that he was surprised that I was admitted as they did not usually admit ex-jocks. Over time, I earned his repspect & admiration and we became friends.
However, my frustration with this and the lack of non-trads around me led me to re-adopt my old nickname. I became “OldManDave” as a toungue-in-cheek indictment of their ignorance. Those mature & worldly enough to get the pun appreciated it…others simply missed it. Then, it stuck.
Actually, I have grown fond of the title…and, largely due to my own comfort with my “age”, I found that most of the ones who gawked at my entering UTD were merely curious. I made many friends…and had several of younger set who would come to me for advice, both academic & life-type stuff…I was like a big brother figure for them. I profoundly enjoyed that role!
So that’s where the name came from and why it returned & was permanently attached. Through OPM & SDN, I have been able to meet quite a few folks in my traveling for KCOM who only know me from on-line & as OMD.

I first encountered OMD on the Princeton Review (remember the non-trad thread that would get re-done every few weeks, Dave, because it would get too long to load or view?) and just laughed at how he considered himself old, because to me, he was just a pup!
At that time I guess I was finishing my post-bacc and getting ready for MCATs at the age of 43. I’m now 46, in my third year of medical school, currently enjoying my surgery rotation (yes, i am enjoying it greatly despite the lack of sleep), and have been welcomed and accepted by my classmates. I took my post-bacc classes with kids who were the same age as my oldest son - they were a little leery of my ‘mom’ persona initially but we all got over it. Now I have a classmate who actually WENT to middle school with same aforementioned son, which was definitely weird to discover, but again, we’ve gotten over it.
The other thing that makes me laugh is that people have preconceived notions about the typical age of a medical student. Some very few people will say something to me like, “I guess this is not your first career,” but many others just automatically pigeonhole me in with the twentysomethings despite the fact that I definitely do not look like I am 24. Then they are just freaked out to hear my kids’ ages (23, 20 and 16) and I get all sorts of “You sure don’t look it!” comments. The fact is that I DO look my age, probably - though I dye my hair tongue.gif – it’s just that people have already classified me as younger and so they literally don’t believe their own eyes.
Works for me!! laugh.gif

No doubt! I simply love it when folks tell me that they thought I could be no more than 26, 27, 28 – I'm no fool! I know good & well I look to be every one of my 36 years & that it is purely the context in which they ass/u/me I am younger cause I am a med student. Makes me chuckle every time!

Ran across this thread today & found it quite humorous!


Believe me, Docs NEED some education on the intricacies of law…we speak “medical” and they speak, God only knows?

Lawyers speak weasel, a language spoken by politicans for thousands of years.



Believe me, Docs NEED some education on the intricacies of law…we speak “medical” and they speak, God only knows?

Lawyers speak weasel, a language spoken by politicans for thousands of years.

Hi there,

What physicians practicing in this age need to know is how to practice defensively in a litigation-prone society. The best thing that a physician can do is document, document and do more documentation. I have reviewed charts that were half filled out with unintelliable handwriting. No matter how busy one becomes, one still has to document patient care.

As physician who will become a lawyer and to those lawyers who are and will become phyicians, we are not adversarial but are after the same thing, good patient care. Sure there is greed among all professions but if physicians would document properly, they could cut many potential lawsuits out before the litigation starts.

Besides, I plan on being one of the prime architects of medical practice in the 21st century from both a legal and practical standpoint. One can stand around moaning and groaning or one can position themselves to take action. I choose the latter and I am no speaker of “weasel” as the poster above seems to articulate and none of the attorneys that I have met speak “weasel”. I only hope that this person develops some maturity and gets above the name-calling.

My apologies for hijacking this thread as Old Man Dave is one of the most extraordinary individuals that I have met. When we actually met in person, over a plate of Moroccan food, it was as if we had known each other for years. So much has happened to us both since then.


Soon to be MD-JD