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Am I too old to start?

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allsteph

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I'm almost 36 years old and am starting school in August. I am planning on majoring in biology. My goal is to attend medical school when I finish which would make me about 40 when I start. My husband is very supportive and has a career where he can literally live anywhere. This would be a second career for me. I'm just worried that maybe I started this journey too late in life. Opinions please?
 

cyang55

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I don't think any age is particularly "too old" to start med school, but you do have to make sure that this is the best decision for you personally. For example, you're starting school at age 36, med school (hopefully) at age 40. You'll graduate from med school at 44, but then you also have your residency which could take anywhere from 3-7 years. So you'll finish your residency when you're 47-51. There is also the accumulation of debt that an avg med student of 170k to 250k, depending on which school you go to. I don't know if you have kids or any other responsibilities, but those have to also be taken into account as well. There's also the amount of hours that you have to put into for med school and even more for residency. Would your husband be okay if you had to be at the hospital 80 hours a week? Would you be able to handle it both physically and mentally? These are all things that only you can answer. If you think you'll be fine with all of these demands, then I'd say go for it! :)
 
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QofQuimica

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Too late in life for what? I mean, if you're going to put off having kids until after you finish residency, then yes, you're too old. Otherwise, well, speaking from the perspective of someone in my 40s, no, mid-30s doesn't strike me as being particularly "old." :eyebrow:
 
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allsteph

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I don't think any age is particularly "too old" to start med school, but you do have to make sure that this is the best decision for you personally. For example, you're starting school at age 36, med school (hopefully) at age 40. You'll graduate from med school at 44, but then you also have your residency which could take anywhere from 3-7 years. So you'll finish your residency when you're 47-51. There is also the accumulation of debt that an avg med student of 170k to 250k, depending on which school you go to. I don't know if you have kids or any other responsibilities, but those have to also be taken into account as well. There's also the amount of hours that you have to put into for med school and even more for residency. Would your husband be okay if you had to be at the hospital 80 hours a week? Would you be able to handle it both physically and mentally? These are all things that only you can answer. If you think you'll be fine with all of these demands, then I'd say go for it! :)

I already have kids. One would be 22 when I apply for medical school and the other would be 18. My husband is a pilot and makes enough to support our household on his income alone. The residency pay isn't really a big deal because we won't be counting on that as a main source of income. Most likely the peanuts I'd be paid for residency would go toward my student loans.I'm in very good physical shape and have great energy and motivation. I'm starting out with a 4.0 grade point average from previous college credits. I was originally going to set out to be a midwife which would take a minimum of 6 years and wouldn't be as fulfilling as being a MD or DO. My interest is in OB/GYN but I'm open to other specialties as well (only because of the cost of malpractice insurance). If I stay with my first choice, residency is 4 years which would make me 48(ish) when I finish up. I'm just worried that all of this is unrealistic.
 
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allsteph

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Too late to be considered competitive? Not if you outperform your peers.
I'm worried about that and maybe I started this journey too late and am being unrealistic.
 
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allsteph

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Too late in life for what? I mean, if you're going to put off having kids until after you finish residency, then yes, you're too old. Otherwise, well, speaking from the perspective of someone in my 40s, no, mid-30s doesn't strike me as being particularly "old." :eyebrow:
I already have kids, they will be 22 and 18 by the time I apply. I just don't have the time to waste if I can't get into medical school then have to start school for a nursing degree that I could have by the time I'm 40.
 

cyang55

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I already have kids. One would be 22 when I apply for medical school and the other would be 18. My husband is a pilot and makes enough to support our household on his income alone. The residency pay isn't really a big deal because we won't be counting on that as a main source of income. Most likely the peanuts I'd be paid for residency would go toward my student loans.I'm in very good physical shape and have great energy and motivation. I'm starting out with a 4.0 grade point average from previous college credits. I was originally going to set out to be a midwife which would take a minimum of 6 years and wouldn't be as fulfilling as being a MD or DO. My interest is in OB/GYN but I'm open to other specialties as well (only because of the cost of malpractice insurance). If I stay with my first choice, residency is 4 years which would make me 48(ish) when I finish up. I'm just worried that all of this is unrealistic.
It's great that you won't have to worry about your kids since they are adults already. It's also good that you're in a good shape and can most likely handle the physical demands of residency. Since you are worried about this being unrealistic, I think it's important to ask yourself how long you want to practice for. If you'll finish residency at age 48 (minimum, if everything goes smoothly), how long do you want to practice for before you retire? Let's say you want to retire at age 55, that's only 7 years after you finish your residency, and this isn't enough time to get much going (private practice, etc etc). That especially might not be worth it since there's so much hard work and a lot of debt involved. If say 65, that's 17 years. It is not a tremendously long career, but it might be worth it.

But you do have to keep in mind that going to school + residency is going to be 12 years minimum. There's also the fact that most of your peers and competition are in their mid to late 20s and you're going to have to keep up with them. And even though it might be unfair, I'm sure some hospitals and even schools can be biased because of your age (less likely with DO), so would that lessen your chances of getting into a school or residency? I don't personally know, but it might. Something else to consider is that even though you are a great student and can study well, that doesn't translate to doing well on the MCAT. I had a friend in college who had a 3.9 GPA but failed the MCAT twice and decided to not be a doctor anymore. Would it be worth it if you did all of this and couldn't get into med school?

Have you thought about other professions like PA? PA school is 2 years with a bachelor's degree. Since you said you do have some college credits, it might not take you 4 years to get a degree. There isn't any residency after you graduate either. You can still work in the medical field but without the time commitment. Also, you can change your "specialties" as a PA easily, where as you can't do that being a MD or DO.

If you do still want to be a doctor, most med schools don't require that you have a bachelor's degree, you just have to take their required classes (chem, bio, etc etc) and can apply! So that could decrease the amount of time you have to spend in college :).
 
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esob

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    I'll be 43 when I start med school, at which point my two oldest will be graduated but my two youngest will only be 2 and 4. But age alone doesn't tell you much since there are others who at 30 shouldn't be trying to go to medical school (and tons of people in their 20's that shouldn't). My family (and particularly my wife) is used to me working 90+ hr weeks and only seeing me for 30 minutes some weeks; they understand this will continue through medical school and residency. I also consistently outperform 100% of my 20 something peers and will graduate medical school without any student loan debt. These are the sort of things you need to take into account. Can you outperform your peers (top 10% of your classes or better), do you understand you will be married to medical school and medicine, are you in a financial place where taking on a mortgage sized education debt is an option?
     
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    LingoLaine

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    I started at 41, oldest in my class of 160. Just started residency at almost 45. It hasn't been easy. I decided not to pursue the specialty I had planned on all along in part because of the length of training at my age. If I were younger and less burnt out, I probably would have gone ahead with it. Most days I'm pretty satisfied with what I'm doing but in retrospect I probably wouldn't do it again.
     
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    DrCaffeinated

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    I'm 37 and applying this summer! Finishing my bachelors this year.
     
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    mentalmouth

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    Opinions please?
    I'm 30, hopefully 32 when I start and I sometimes feel "too old". I have friends from college who are in their last year of residency and I am just hoping to apply to med school next year. I could be in med school with kids who graduated high school in 2015. WTF!? I would say that if you would be happy doing something else or continuing on in your current career, that might be a better choice with an easier, possibly more enjoyable life. If you can't imagine doing anything else, well then, I guess only you can decide whether the time, money and risk are all worth it.

    But as an aside, for the LOVE OF GOD, unless you want to be a biologist, DON'T MAJOR IN BIOLOGY!! Do something that could be a fallback in case med school doesn't pan out -- and unless you want to do your PhD or work as a lab tech for $13/hr, biology isn't it.
     
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    allsteph

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    I'm 30, hopefully 32 when I start and I sometimes feel "too old". I have friends from college who are in their last year of residency and I am just hoping to apply to med school next year. I could be in med school with kids who graduated high school in 2015. WTF!? I would say that if you would be happy doing something else or continuing on in your current career, that might be a better choice with an easier, possibly more enjoyable life. If you can't imagine doing anything else, well then, I guess only you can decide whether the time, money and risk are all worth it.

    But as an aside, for the LOVE OF GOD, unless you want to be a biologist, DON'T MAJOR IN BIOLOGY!! Do something that could be a fallback in case med school doesn't pan out -- and unless you want to do your PhD or work as a lab tech for $13/hr, biology isn't it.

    I'm so glad you commented about the biology degree! When I talked to my advisor I asked him, if I can't get into medical school what can I do with a biology degree! His reply was nursing (which of coarse I'd have to take at least 2 years of additional just to get a BSN). If that's the case, I could have a BSN before applying to medical school and not needing the same prerecs
     

    DrCaffeinated

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    Did a premed adviser suggest nursing? You are going to be asked why you are not going into nursing. I would ask around and find out how that looks for adcoms. I've heard it doesn't look good that you took up a seat in nursing school without intending to really be a nurse, but I don't know if that's a real thing.
     

    Ligament

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    You can do it, but I would not advise it if you are doing this to have a career/job or you care about debt. You will be too old when you finish training. Putting up with the mistreatment med students/interns/residents/fellows put up with requires a certain level of naiveté which you hopefully no longer have.

    I would not recommend anybody go into medicine regardless of age at this time. Physicians will be nearly 100% hospital employed as noctor overseers by the time you enter practice. Physicians are being replaced by nurses, NPs, PAs and other non-qualified charlatans. Physician pay gets worse every single year for decades now. The practice of medicine is nearly fully replaced by government dictated algorithms. There will be no professional freedom and no original thought allowed in your profession by the time you are in practice. You will have the joy of reporting to your hospital employed non-clinician administrator on your press-ganey scores on a regular basis and have your paycheck tied to it. In short, you will be expected to be a well behaved robot.

    American medicine needs to burn to the ground before it gets better. The insurance companies and government need to be removed from the doctor patient relationship. I don't think that would happen by the time you enter practice.

    If you are doing this for fun, and fun alone, then go ahead! You can always quit.
     
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    Ad2b

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    Gosh, surprised no one tagged me for this :(

    See, I'm 51 - about to turn 52. No one in the real world guesses that I'm "that" old. Whatever that means :) Genetics has played a good part in my life, my parents aged well and apparently, I am too. Plus, I'm very active, eat healthy and don't smoke/drink. Chocolate is my addiction.

    I digress.

    This path - the whole dang thing - is tedious, grueling, mentally draining (at times). No one can tell you that you're ready, or wrong to try, or right to try either. There are times, I guarantee you will cry, you will consider - possibly for extended period of time - quitting, you may even quit for awhile - only to come back.

    This path tests everything you think about yourself, your life, your value. Oh yeah, and when you're done with pre-reqs, you REALLY get tested on that little MCAT thingermajiggy.

    How do I know? Cuz that's me right there. My passion is all about becoming a doc, always has been; life got in the way (coupled with that drinking thing as a freshman, oh, and the dead child).

    What I can tell you is this:

    1. Not too old
    2. Take it one step at a time, one class at a time
    3. Consistently push decisions about med school or not med school until the very END of every semester; never ever make that decision based on one test, or one course or one lousy experience.

    I submitted my application (allo only) on 6/7. Finally, and with many tears. Tears of relief, tears of joy, tears of fear (that it's all been for naught).

    IF you really want to become a doc, don't let age stop you, don't let the naysayers stop you (there'll be plenty of them, trust me).

    Last - don't be me!
     
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    allsteph

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    Did a premed adviser suggest nursing? You are going to be asked why you are not going into nursing. I would ask around and find out how that looks for adcoms. I've heard it doesn't look good that you took up a seat in nursing school without intending to really be a nurse, but I don't know if that's a real thing.

    I wouldn't go to nursing school unless I am not accepted to medical school. My plan is to finish all my prerecs, see how my GPA looks and take my MCATs before applying to medical school. That should at least give me an idea of whether I have a chance at medical school. If not, I'll go to nursing school.
     

    allsteph

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    I wouldn't go to nursing school unless I am not accepted to medical school. My plan is to finish all my prerecs, see how my GPA looks and take my MCATs before applying to medical school. That should at least give me an idea of whether I have a chance at medical school. If not, I'll go to nursing school.

    Did a premed adviser suggest nursing? You are going to be asked why you are not going into nursing. I would ask around and find out how that looks for adcoms. I've heard it doesn't look good that you took up a seat in nursing school without intending to really be a nurse, but I don't know if that's a real thing.

    I haven't applied to nursing school yet. I've heard the same about taking up a seat. Our classes are very competitive here with not many spots so I wouldn't want to do that to anyone.
     

    DrCaffeinated

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    Oh I see, yeah good plan! My school has a master's in science with an RN include.
     
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    Goro

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    Nope. Some of my all time best students have been in their 30s and 40s. I graduated one last year at 50.

    I'm almost 36 years old and am starting school in August. I am planning on majoring in biology. My goal is to attend medical school when I finish which would make me about 40 when I start. My husband is very supportive and has a career where he can literally live anywhere. This would be a second career for me. I'm just worried that maybe I started this journey too late in life. Opinions please?
     
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    esob

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    I started at 41, oldest in my class of 160. Just started residency at almost 45. It hasn't been easy. I decided not to pursue the specialty I had planned on all along in part because of the length of training at my age. If I were younger and less burnt out, I probably would have gone ahead with it. Most days I'm pretty satisfied with what I'm doing but in retrospect I probably wouldn't do it again.

    What do you think you would have done instead? Which part makes you feel that way? The hours? The debt? The (mis)treatment ?
     

    TheTao

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    DON'T MAJOR IN BIOLOGY!! Do something that could be a fallback in case med school doesn't pan out -- and unless you want to do your PhD or work as a lab tech for $13/hr, biology isn't it.

    This.
     

    careerchanger77

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    What would be some better majors than Bio when it comes to better fallback career prospects?
     
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    Ad2b

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    bio is one of the worst "fallback" plans unless you get a PhD, IMO... and my op is worthless ;)

    Major in what you love and supplement with pre-reqs. No specific major is > another for med school. (again, IMO)
     
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    DrCaffeinated

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    So many students major in bio and hate it. I love it and it's perfect for me. My major is actually molecular and cell bio and I knew I would either go into research or med school. Choose something you love!
     
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    AnnieSmith

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    I'm almost 36 years old and am starting school in August. I am planning on majoring in biology. My goal is to attend medical school when I finish which would make me about 40 when I start. My husband is very supportive and has a career where he can literally live anywhere. This would be a second career for me. I'm just worried that maybe I started this journey too late in life. Opinions please?
    I think you are an excellent age. I started my PHD in my 40s and I think this is the best time. I am not being anti-ageist about youth and younger people when I say this. Life experience and work experience behind you is an excellent background for further study. Well in my opinion. Good on you and I wish you the best with your journey.
    Annie
     
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    SurgeDO

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    i think you should go for it. like others have been saying, take it step by step.

    if you have the financial, social, and family support, what is holding you back? get your biology degree and then decide if you want to take the next step. i think you should.
     
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    Kastalia

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    @Ligament

    This is a very very thought provoking post!

    I'd greatly appreciate your advice regarding my case.

    I am another almost 36 yo. I have a foreign bachelors in chemistry and US masters and PhD in epidemiology. I am enrolled in a 2nd bachelors (part time) and have an academic appointment. Will have the 2nd bachelors in 3 years.

    I would prefer to get a US medical degree and stay here but would not be unhappy if I leave the country and study/practicing elsewhere.

    I am only intersted in psychiatry (may change but have wanted thus since I was 15 so I doubt it). Would like to keep doing research as I am good at it.

    Thank you for any feedback you may have. Debt is my main concern and not sure if private practice would be a viable option.


    You can do it, but I would not advise it if you are doing this to have a career/job or you care about debt. You will be too old when you finish training. Putting up with the mistreatment med students/interns/residents/fellows put up with requires a certain level of naiveté which you hopefully no longer have.

    I would not recommend anybody go into medicine regardless of age at this time. Physicians will be nearly 100% hospital employed as noctor overseers by the time you enter practice. Physicians are being replaced by nurses, NPs, PAs and other non-qualified charlatans. Physician pay gets worse every single year for decades now. The practice of medicine is nearly fully replaced by government dictated algorithms. There will be no professional freedom and no original thought allowed in your profession by the time you are in practice. You will have the joy of reporting to your hospital employed non-clinician administrator on your press-ganey scores on a regular basis and have your paycheck tied to it. In short, you will be expected to be a well behaved robot.

    American medicine needs to burn to the ground before it gets better. The insurance companies and government need to be removed from the doctor patient relationship. I don't think that would happen by the time you enter practice.

    If you are doing this for fun, and fun alone, then go ahead! You can always quit.
     

    Starphoenix

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    I'll be in my early fifties when I begin medical school. :)
     
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    DrMikeP

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    @Ligament

    This is a very very thought provoking post!

    I'd greatly appreciate your advice regarding my case.

    I am another almost 36 yo. I have a foreign bachelors in chemistry and US masters and PhD in epidemiology. I am enrolled in a 2nd bachelors (part time) and have an academic appointment. Will have the 2nd bachelors in 3 years.

    I would prefer to get a US medical degree and stay here but would not be unhappy if I leave the country and study/practicing elsewhere.

    I am only intersted in psychiatry (may change but have wanted thus since I was 15 so I doubt it). Would like to keep doing research as I am good at it.

    Thank you for any feedback you may have. Debt is my main concern and not sure if private practice would be a viable option.


    If YOU are interested in psychiatry get a job as a psych tech in a public hospital and shadow some drs to see what it is really like. I've seen many many go in and become disillusioned at what it really is vs what they thought. It's heavy med management.

    Good luck
     

    it'sabeautifullife

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    Always hesitant to speak up since I am only one [very odd] story that represents a mere handful, but also feel compelled to pay forward all the help that was extended to me along the way. Take my n=1 for whatever insight it offers you.

    Just completed my first year of medical school. There is no place I'd rather be. I am happier and more fulfilled than I have ever been in my entire life, which has been laced with a host of extreme successes and joys (and, of course, some sorrows). Keeping up physically and academically. Many in the class have told me I motivate and inspire them. I am often the one dragging them to work out. To be fair, they are the ones talking me into studying more lol. Yup, some very wonderful, mature young people I am lucky to know.

    Just got back from a medical mission trip with my class. We saw over 2000 patients in one week. It was one of the greatest weeks of my life, and I have had an absolutely amazing one by anyone's standards. I could see myself doing that every year for the next 20 years. I honestly feel privileged to be getting this in-depth education and to be taking on this responsibility/privilege of becoming a doc.

    Some personals, since they are the backbone of the story: Married for 28 years to my best friend. Our relationship survived the year with flying colors. Full disclosure: it was quite difficult--lots of sacrifice--but we did it. Mother to a 23-year-old, an 18-year-old, and a 14-year-old. They are proud of me and happy that I get to do this. Traveled extensively; have lived abroad. Have already done many of the cool things people long to do (one day). Money is a non-issue for our family, so it's all about doing what genuinely lights our fire.

    I am fifty-five years old.
     
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    Mad Jack

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    If it's the only thing you can picture yourself doing in life, then you're not too old. If there is anything, ANYTHING you can see yourself happy doing other than medicine, for the love of God, don't do it.
     
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    it'sabeautifullife

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    If it's the only thing you can picture yourself doing in life, then you're not too old. If there is anything, ANYTHING you can see yourself happy doing other than medicine, for the love of God, don't do it.
    Mad Jack speaks the truth.

    This has worked out well for me because it is literally the only thing I wanted to do for the next twenty years, or however many I have left. Have wanted to do it for the last 35 years, but life has always had other plans for me until now.

    If you put this much blood, sweat, and tears into nearly any other endeavor, you will likely be very successful. It's a ROUGH road, guys.
     
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    dushash

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    Not too old for sure. IMHO doctor is one of the few professions where been old is looked good from a patients perspective, they tend to think you are smarter and more experienced doc than younger docs (of course it's just a stereotype). In terms of financial debt (I know you said it's not an issue for you) it's not rare to work until 75-80y.o. It all depends on genetics and your willingness to work. In my hospital I constantly see 70-ish y.o. docs still working and enjoying. So even if one starts to be an attending at 55y.o. - there is still good 15-20 years of good pay. Still could make overall $2mil even if working as an average pay Internist. One condition tho, you have to be loving your job, otherwise it won't be fun and even small issues will seem troubling and worth quitting job and/or getting remorse for wrongly chosen profession. It's true for other professions as well, not only MD/DO. For me it's worth it no matter what others say (general decline trend in pay, etc) just because doing something you love for next 15-20 years is worth it. All IMHO.
     
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    Biza

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    Our timelines (ages of start, admit, graduate) look very similar, but I am a MS3 right now. So, it can be done!!
    Its a tough road as a nontraditional, especially with children, but it is worth it!
     
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    Newtonian21

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    I'm almost 36 years old and am starting school in August. I am planning on majoring in biology. My goal is to attend medical school when I finish which would make me about 40 when I start. My husband is very supportive and has a career where he can literally live anywhere. This would be a second career for me. I'm just worried that maybe I started this journey too late in life. Opinions please?
    People should either shut up or put up. This is not a premed 21yrs forum this is a nontrad forum. Which Adcoms cares if were Nurse before or you took a seat from someone. Are people stupid?
     

    akinetopsia

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    The "taking a seat" from someone else argument is so fallacious.

    That someone else may or may not have been able to get through school and graduate. Who is to say that if they're younger than the non-trad that "took the seat," they'll actually work in a geographical location or a specialty that is in need and offer more to society, and what's to say they won't graduate, match, and end up working part time for ten years and retiring? Or get a debilitating disease through no fault of their own and not be able to work for long? There's too many confounders and too many things can happen for that argument to be taken that seriously.
     
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    FutureRocDoc

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    I'm 37, and starting in a few weeks as an undergrad (sophomore), majoring in biology. If you're motivated, willing to work hard, and have a good support system in place, then go for it. Time is going to pass regardless, so ask yourself which decision you might regret more ten years from now.
     
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    TheTao

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    Clinical lab science

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk

    The. Most. Boring. Job. EVER!

    Signed a former Clinical Chemist at a nationally known clinical lab

    I say go for Health Information Management/Technology!!
     

    Chimichica

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    The. Most. Boring. Job. EVER!

    Signed a former Clinical Chemist at a nationally known clinical lab

    I say go for Health Information Management/Technology!!
    Micro and heme aren't boring. Chemistry is tho.

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk
     
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    TheTao

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    Micro and heme aren't boring. Chemistry is tho.

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    Micro LITERALLY smells like s**t everyday so if you have the nose/stomach for it, go for it. ALL of it was just too boring and "routine" for me.
     

    jl lin

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    American medicine needs to burn to the ground before it gets better. The insurance companies and government need to be removed from the doctor patient relationship. I don't think that would happen by the time you enter practice.

    I agree with much of this. Under the current climate, how does that happen exactly?
     
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