32yo Restaurant GM wants career change to MD

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.


New Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 8, 2017
Reaction score
32 years old
SAT 800 math 710 verbal
2006 BA International Studies from UNC
Undergrad GPA 3.25, overall science GPA 3.19
MCAT 36 R (expired)
transcript attached

What's my best course of action for creating a strong application and getting into Med school? Most of my prerequisites for MD are 10+ years old. My current idea is to complete the remaining courses to fulfill the requirements for a BA/BS in Chemistry, though of course I wouldn't be awarded the actual degree. In addition to the fact that I like science, the thinking is that this would provide a great opportunity to gain some research experience, develop relationships with professors (since no science professor at this point would be in their right mind to write me a LOR), and provide me time to volunteer. Is there some more relevant Post-Bacc course of study that I should follow?

Before graduating, I completed most of the prerequisites for Dental/Med school at my Dad's (DDS) request, who was pushing me towards dental school at the time. I never had much interest in becoming a dentist, and never followed through with that. I was also a **** student as an undergrad. I skipped classes, didn't complete necessary readings, wrote research papers start to finish the night and morning before they were due, and barely studied for anything. I shied away from hard work and leaned far too heavily on strong memory skills. Before I graduated, I started working in high end restaurants and have been ever since. I have always had a hunger to learn, and now possess encyclopedic food/wine/beer/spirits/craft cocktail knowledge. More importantly my restaurant experience has taught me how to work hard, helped me develop strong social skills, and management ability. I've been the GM at 2 very reputable restaurants in Durham, NC.

In 2011, six years into my restaurant career, I decided I wanted a change, and quickly decided that I wanted to go to medical school. I'd had some exposure by then, as I'd been living since graduation with my best friend who after a couple gap years, was completing an MD/MPH. I decided to start my slow progress towards putting together an MD application by studying for the MCAT. I knew I'd need a strong MCAT to overcome my weak GPA, but also I had doubts to dispel, and needed to prove to myself that I could be a good student. After 4 months of studying, while working full-time, I scored a 36 R. I then proceeded to enroll in further science classes that I knew I'd need, and started volunteering. The first class I enrolled in was Analytical Chem at UNC during a summer session. I got an A, but then life intervened. After divorcing his wife of 25 years, my dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and started undergoing treatment immediately. In his past, he'd severely abused narcotic painkillers, and that began to happen all over again. I quit volunteering, didn't register for more classes, and instead focused on helping my dad, and working. Shortly after his diagnosis, I was offered my first serious GM job, so I took it. I shelved my MD aspirations indefinitely.

That was 6 years ago. Over the last year, I haven't been able to shake the idea of going back to school, and it's done nothing but grow. I still want to be an MD.

Members don't see this ad.


  • internaltranscript.docx
    18.4 KB · Views: 52


has an opinion
15+ Year Member
Oct 31, 2006
Reaction score
I'll bite on this one because as an engineering and medicine interviewer, restaurant work is my favorite thing to see on a resume, assuming your actions (not your dad's, not the owner's) actually kept a restaurant from going out of business, and you actually waited tables such that your rent depended on tips, thus you survived on hustle and brains. That kind of restaurant work, imho, legitimizes a claim on intelligence, work ethic and personal skills. It doesn't tell me anything about whether you're a decent human being to people you don't know, or that you're basically likeable, which I'd need to see elsewhere in the app and in the interview.

1. Your GPAs are a couple standard deviations below the average successful MD applicant (see data tables on AAMC). Yes, there are people who get into med school with worse, but data is not available to tell you why. It would be mentally healthy to think of yourself as having GPA damage.
2. GPAs don't get fixed, because of math and the "A" part. GPA is forever (unless you move to TX and invest about a decade before you apply to med school. MI and LA publics have some postbac weighting. NC has enough schools and enough instate preference that I don't think you should move.).
3. A high MCAT doesn't help with GPA damage. The MCAT is a one-day burst of high function. Med schools want to see that you can keep your academic act together every single day for years. That's what undergrad GPA shows.
4. Because you've already done a lot of the prereqs, and because your GPA is low, a formal premed postbac program isn't on the table.
5. Your damage is enough that one year of additional schoolwork probably won't get you in the game. You should be thinking about 2+ years.
6. You can't apply until after you've completed GPA redemption. So at best, you're looking at applying in June 2020.
7. Note that the MCAT no longer has an essay, it has a humanities section. So you might want to take some of those classes.
8. Premed advisers can't help. Premed advisers are sometimes useful for squeaky clean premeds, where no actual insight is required. Premed advisers are kind of like travel agents - they're for people who can't use the internet.
9. Needing to do GPA redemption to get into med school is not formulaic. You can do everything right for the next 2+ years and still not get in.
10. Definitely make friends with DO. If you find that distasteful, interrogate your soul on your real motives.

So here's the deal. Your 36R is permission to try again. Sure. You have the mental chops to get points. You now need to show that your last 6 years taught you how to perform on a daily basis, day after day, week after week, year after year. No falling down. You need to show that you have daily academic discipline. And that's not just med school - picture a 12 hour shift in the restaurant and then you have to go home and study. That's residency. 7+ years before you can "relax" and just be a doctor.

My suggestion is a 2nd bachelors, in an upper div science like biochem or neuro or micro or genetics. Or a rigorous traditional masters with pubs, which would not help your undergrad GPA numbers at all, but nicely establishes academic work ethic.

On the other side of that 2+ years of humble pie, you retake the MCAT, you have faculty recommendations, you have substantial clinical exposure, and you apply to med school, without having alleviated your GPA disadvantage because at best you're at about a 3.4, and you are completely at the mercy of random reviewer eyeballs to be willing to interview you anyway. And if you're successful, then the hard part starts.

Best of luck to you.
  • Like
Reactions: 5 users