A Plan and a Backstory - any advice or encouragement for me?

Aug 16, 2015
Hi there, SDN!

So here I am, just entering my 30's, and still wishing I had gone to med school. My GPA from my B.A. is 3.095 and I'm concerned that might be low enough to knock me out of reasonable consideration. I test well (never below 97th percentile on a standardized test) and I'm intelligent (started classes at Michigan State when I was 14), but my academic record is mediocre at best.

Fortunately, I do have over 4,000 hours of documented community service (including disaster relief with FEMA after hurricanes Dennis and Katrina) and 3 Congressional Medals for that service. My grandfather was a veterinarian, so I got to spend spring breaks and summers helping with surgeries and around the clinic. Plus, we had a farm. Routine, low level medical stuff has been a part of my life since forever.

I'm signed up right now to re-take College Algebra and Trig. The last time I took them I got "no-grade" then a few months later I scored in the 99th percentile on those ACT subsections. Story of my academic life in a nutshell. Ability, but no participation.

This semester and next I could add Anatomy and Physiology, then a University about 45 minutes down the road has a Post-Bacc program for career changers looking to get into med school. That would start next summer, and end in the spring, after which I could continue as an enrolled student there taking any more classes I need (like a second semester of Org Chem). That program alone is $20,000.

So here is where I get stuck. I have a business that is pretty successful when I actually work at it (closed it up for maternity leave 18 months ago) and it's nice but uninspiring. I miss when my work mattered. I miss when I was putting this innate ability to good use. I've spent 12 years trying to convince myself I did not want to study medicine, because the intensity and expense is outrageous. Now I have a spectacular husband and 3 incredible kids. Am I really considering spending their whole child hoods in medical school and residency?

Is there even a realistic chance for me? Let's say I do spend $20,000+ just to get ready to apply to medical school. Let's say I get in. We're talking about an incredibly high price tag for the *chance* to be a doctor. If I flake out or fail out, my kids and family and I may never recover. Hubby is underpaid, but flexible. He can find *some* work anywhere, just not much. I'd probably train him to handle all the customer service of my business and let him take an hourly wage doing that. He is entirely supportive.

I see the threads about people who've walked this path and succeeded, but how many people started and did not? What percentage of smart, motivated, more-diligent-than-me people don't make it?

I'm looking for advice. Encouragement. Or a gentle reality check. Is this the beginning of personal fulfillment or an incredibly expensive opportunity to completely sink my family?
Aug 16, 2015
My YouTube history is all medical lectures and Khan Academy segments on Organic Chemistry or Biology. They play while I wash dishes and fold laundry because I genuinely enjoy learning.

I can't decide if that's evidence that I should study medicine or just evidence of my own insanity.
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5+ Year Member
Nov 3, 2014
Welcome! Your questions are very normal :) It's a daunting gauntlet to change careers especially with kids and spouse in tow.

I can answer this from my perspective from two different vantage points:

1) your age - when I was there and what I did at that time of my life

2) my age now (a "few" years later)

So from #1

The desire doesn't end. That need to give back to do something medically to train to teach to lead? yeah. never goes away no matter how hard one tries. The economic question you posed is something only you can answer.

What's it worth to you if you DO get in and you DO become a physician? And what's it worth to you if you do NOT? It's the latter question that you should think about about, not the what-ifs of now.

From #2

I tried to give it up. Many times. My grades are horrific from 1982 - .... 2008 and now I have almost a 4.0 (just a little south of that). So from a professional standpoint I worked hard, raised my son, volunteered, gave back, did this or that ... and wondered.

I take the MCAT in 4 weeks. At 51. I took the chance because NOT taking the chance was far worse than the possibility I will not get in. At first, I gave up a very lucrative career to chase this... now, I'm very fortunate that my client allows me to come and go at will to take classes or study for the beast. However, my spending habits have changed drastically. I am also lucky in that I do not have a spouse and my son is now 23. The impact on him ... is that he now wants to be a doc too :) lol - poor kid.

It's difficult to know how many try and leave because those that leave the path are probably not going to come to SDN or Reddit or any other premed forum and acknowledge that they quit.

There is one person in the last 7 years that I know of. He went to school in AZ. I believe he was about 42-ish or younger ... 1st year killed him. He had the option of retaking 1st year or leaving. He was gutted about the decision. In the end, he did leave and went on with his life.

YOU have to be ready for that as well (we all do). What I would suggest is that you start with the pre-reqs: gen chem 1 and 2, orgo, biochem, physics, psych/soc, and then see how you feel. One step at a time.

Hope that helps - yes you can do this, only you can evaluate whether the immediate loss of income is worth it or not, or whether or not you want to be 50 and doing this ;)
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Aug 16, 2015

Does anyone else want to shin-kick whoever decided that test results are only valid for 5 years but GPAs haunt you forever? Anyone? Just me?


has an opinion
10+ Year Member
Oct 30, 2006
Resident [Any Field]
Not sure what test results you're talking about.

GPAs are forever. Mine was a lot worse than yours. If you haven't taken much science yet then you stand to have a killer science GPA. Which helps a lot.

You don't have to spend $20k on a formal program. For you I'd recommend looking for an on-campus job at a university that offers good science majors, so that you get a tuition discount and registration priority. You might not be able to go full time but this puts you in a convenient position for a variety of reasons. Or do a formal program - these have some nice benefits too.

Generally you should be looking at a 2+ year full time timeframe to get your prereqs+ done and get a good MCAT score.

Best of luck to you.
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2+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2015
South of the Mason Dixon
You def have a shot, but you have to remember its just a SHOT no one is guaranteed anything in life. It all balls down to how bad do you want it. You already know the answer to that question deep down inside, and I have high suspicion thats why you are here lurking. I am a glass half full kind of guy, and a dreamer so I say go for it. However, you do your homework and take the right approach to this beast, once the momentum is going your way you will feel much better about your situation. More recent course work in a SMP with a solid GPA and a Solid Mcat will do provide you with the justice needed to demonstrate your academic ability to preform. The rest is on your shoulders for your personal statement packet and interview performance.

Take care
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