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Any insights/tips/suggestions for an older applicant?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by ocwaveoc, Feb 14, 2007.

  1. ocwaveoc

    ocwaveoc Membership Revoked
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    Hey guys,
    I'm 37 y/o and will be applying during the summer.
    I'm wondering if anyone can offer any insights, tips or suggestions for someone like me regarding the age issue and the medical school application process.....ie specific interview questions I should be aware of, non trad friendly/unfriendly schools, any facts about residencies most older grads get into etc...
    Thanks.
     
  2. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion
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    I'm 40, applying this summer. Here's what I understand. We're weirdos. That can be good or bad. I don't think adcoms really know what to do with us. Mostly I think the over-35 applicant pool self-selects out before we apply - medicine is really, really hard, and statistically we have families and mortgages and perfectly reasonable careers calling us back from the insanity. So maybe out of 5000 apps, there are 25 over-35ers. I think it's reasonable for adcoms to fear us for different reasons than they'd fear 22 year olds. What if we left our career because we're slackers, hostile, smelly, obnoxious, or first to get laid off and thank god they're gone? What if we STILL haven't gotten over our daddy complexes? What if we're old and tired and all used up and we don't know it yet? What if our children are at the age where they start experimenting with drugs or get pregnant and need all our time? Kind of like the American Idol outtakes. If I were an adcom I'd be terrified to make the bad admit that everybody regrets, and selecting for youth is one way to claim innocence maybe.

    I know that incredibly subjective human eyes are between me and an interview. My numbers aren't fabulous enough for me to autoscreen anywhere. So I need those human eyes to not be age-biased (legality is irrelevant), and to see something in my app that's worth inviting, and just maybe, to see something that demonstrates my extra 20 years of (alleged) maturity and experience in a non-smug, non-arrogant, non-delusional, non-entitled, non-obnoxious, but approachable and healthy and viable and smart way. I'm pretty darned sure that if I put out any vibe that I won't do scut, or will need a nap by 10 pm when I'm on call, or that I expect my abandoned career to impress anybody, then I'm doomed. In hopes of getting past the app screen to an interview, it would be in my best interest to apply to 100 schools. (More likely: 30.)

    So let's say some school says hey come for an interview. Wow. So now I'll have a presumably different set of humans to impress. I think the med students doing interviewing will be completely at a loss with a candidate as old as their mom. I'm afraid of the questions that a 22 year old would need 2 minutes to answer. I'll want at least 10 minutes. For example: what is wrong with US health policy? We were born before HMOs, and we voted in 1992 before the LAST time Hillary wanted to fix everything. If we've been paying attention at all for the last 20 years, and we want to be doctors, this is an all-night conversation. So I'm worried about being succinct without squandering my experience card. For an interview with me to succeed, in my view, the adcoms have to get through their normal question list, and ALSO find out if I can hold up physically, if I have a personality that's going to fit in with the 22 year olds, if I can survive the isolation and sleep deprivation, and most importantly, if I'm going to quit, because I can! I can go back to software! Us over-35ers aren't afraid of our parents! What happens when the misery we left is trumped by the misery about to begin?

    I live with a surgeon who is finishing residency at 35. She's so darned grown up. She was on the admissions committee at her insanely prestigious school. On the one hand, she says adcoms will simply adore me for going for it and risking everything and for being all interesting and stuff. On the other hand, she says I absolutely have to apply this year. So apparently trying to start med school at 42 is about as advisable as trying to get pregnant at 42, and waiting to try until 43 is a non-choice. Which is ironic, because I actually did give up on motherhood for med school.

    So I don't know. If you spend/waste enough time on the internet (such as oldpremeds.com) you can find out more about specific schools and their oldest matriculants etc. But mostly, I'd say get your PS read by as many eyes as possible, keep your nose clean academically, have ECs that compete with or exceed the ECs of 22 year olds, and with some luck, you'll need to do as many preparatory mock interviews as you can get.

    Dang, I hate it when I blather. Best of luck to you.
     
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  3. Byronsgoat

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    Hah.

    I'm a 4th year med student, 39 years old. I thought the application process, interviewing, etc. was quite easy. I did a post-bacc and interviewed prior to my MCAT score getting released (relationship between undergrad institution and state medical school) so I did not have the confidence of a high score. My post-bacc grades, however, were quite good. I was not interviewed by medical students, which is fine because I didn't have a lot in common with them anyway. I did, however, have a lot in common with the more senior people who did interview me - we talked about travel, politics, families, philosophy; it was relaxed and interesting. Likewise, I just finished interviewing for residency spots and it has been similar. My age was most definitely an asset.

    I'd advise looking at programs/med schools that espouse a "whole" patient philosophy - e.g. with a focus on primary care (which does not mean you cannot be a neurosurgeon from there - all you need is AOA and 230+ on USMLE Step I).

    As for napping, I was on call two nights ago and napped for 30 minutes at 8:00pm - no problem; my senior (who is 30 years old) napped at 5:00pm for about an hour; you sleep when you can...

    As for impressing people with your career - most are impressed, both by what you've done, and why you left it...talking about it is fun.

    Don't worry, embrace your diversity. Like I keep saying to anyone who will listen, it's much easier to get into medschool when you are in your 30's than when you are 23 (presuming your grades and MCATs are adequate) - you don't need to differentiate yourself, you are already there due to your age. Good luck! :thumbup:
     
  4. elvision

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    I'm 35 and applied this year to both MD and DO. I got interviews at both, and so far accepted at a DO school. If you are interested in the philosophy, DO may be a great choice for you because they truly value applicants with varied experience. Although, MD programs are doing this now, too, DO just has a longer history of it.

    In case it helps, here are my stats:

    undergrad (BFA in Dance) GPA 3.37
    post-bacc GPA 3.9 (leading to overall 3.56 undergrad)
    science GPA 3.8
    MCAT 28N 10V 9PS 9BIO (i am clueless as to how they grade that damn writing sample, I typically get excellent feedback on my writing skills ;))
    I also attended a massage therapy program with a 4.0, which I believe DO schools cared more about then MDs, although I did get in-patient contact out of it.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    ocwaveoc

    ocwaveoc Membership Revoked
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    Thanks for the replies.
    I had no idea that there are allo vs. osteo residencies! I was aware that osteopathic schools concentrated more on primary care. But, I was under the impression that as long as one did well on the licensing exams, most of the residencies were within the reach of osteo graduates. Is this not the case if an osteo student doesn't take the USMLE? If so, after COMPLEX what residencies are "osteo" residencies?
     
  6. ShyRem

    ShyRem I need more coffee.
    Physician Moderator Emeritus Verified Expert 10+ Year Member

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    depending on what you're reaching for, most residencies ARE within reach of DOs. The ultra-competitive ones are tough, but they're tough for the MD students applying too.


    And it's COMLEX. There are a few um... sensitive... folks on here who would absolutely tear you up for a simple error like COMPLEX. ;)
     
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