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Considering Medical School, Appreciate Your Thoughts and Insights

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Sapperoth

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Hello SDNetwork,

I hope you are all well! I am writing because for the last couple of years, I have had the thought of completing pre-requisite coursework and applying for medical school. I have some concerns and I realize that ultimately it is my decision, but I was hoping to get some perspectives from some of those that are already in the field and might have some additional knowledge for me to consider as I navigate through the decision-making process.

I have been told by some colleagues that at this point I would be considered a 'non-traditional student' (totally coming to terms with that right now, ha). I am 26 years old, and am a licensed psychotherapist via the field of counseling. I hold a masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and am currently in a PhD program for Counseling.

For quite some time, I've been interested in the psychopharmacological aspects of mental health treatment, and while I have a major counseling and psychotherapy focus and love my degree area and my training, I feel as though I have been missing more formalized training in the biological aspects of psychotherapy. I have a number of colleagues who are psychiatrists, and the work many of them do is incredibly fascinating. And while one would think that from a psychotherapeutic level it is not so different--I argue that psychiatrists have the ability to provide the "mecca" of mental health treatment--the sweet spot of pharmacological intervention IN ADDITION TO psychotherapeutic intervention that creates incredibly sustainable change in the lives of patients and clients. I realize psychiatry is a broad field in of itself, with many pathways and avenues, but I am specifically interested in practicing as a psychiatrist and gaining the medical training to provide more comprehensive care to my clients.

Before I voice my specific questions and concerns, here is some information to help inform my situation:
  • My undergraduate experience was filled with partying and a lack of educational and vocational priorities--with the exception of my junior and senior years where I got my act together
  • While my academics in my undergraduate career were average (finished with a measly 3.3GPA), I took only a couple of hard science courses, and would have all the room in the world to establish a strong science GPA if I went ahead and began taking pre-reqs now
  • My graduate academic career has been much better--I finished my master's with a 4.0, along with my current doctoral work with the 4.0 GPA average
  • I have completed clinical rotations that focus on substance abuse counseling, and this is the area I specialize in--specifically in the college student population; I also specialize in moderate-intrusive mood disorders
  • I currently have $60,000 in loans accrued at this point in my educational career. I work for my University right now, and my tuition is covered for the time being. So it will not continue to increase unless I move into medical school
  • I have a heavy interest in research, and have actively been a part of the research community in counseling within my institution. Only a couple of finalized publications, but many currently in progress.
My main questions and concerns:
  • Is it looked down upon for individuals with initiated/established careers to apply for medical school? For example, will my background in counseling and my license as a psychotherapist hinder my application?
  • If I cannot afford to go into a post-bac program and jump into things full-speed, and I use my tuition benefit at my current institution to take pre-requisite courses over the next couple of years and make high marks in them, will this look bad? Will it seem as though I am not committed?
  • Are non-traditional students less desired?
  • I do identify with a couple of underrepresented populations in medicine, specifically Hispanic/Latino, and speak Spanish fluently (it is my native language).
  • Ultimately, my biggest fear is that I place my PhD on pause, spend time and money in getting my pre-reqs completed, shadowing, and taking the MCAT, and then not getting in. Not only will I not have met my goal to be in medical school, but I'll be (I assume 28-29 by that time) without a PhD, either.
  • If all goes positively and smoothly, what might a potential timeline look like for someone my age? I considered that by the time I finished pre-reqs, I might be 28-29, if I get in to medical school I'll be 33-34 by the time I finish curriculum, and then be in residency for another 3-4 years... so I won't finish until I'm around 37-38? Is this accurate?
I realize I'm asking a lot of questions, but your feedback and time is so greatly valued and appreciated. I also realize that my ultimate concern is an innate risk of getting into this field, and that ultimately it will always be a risk. But I wanted to pick the brains of individuals that might be more knowledgeable than I am about the process. I realize your thoughts are just that, thoughts. I know not to take any information too officially.

TL;DR - 26 Years Old, current counseling professional, wondering whether my age and my somewhat established practice will negative impact my chances of getting in.

Thank you for all that you all do! Looking forward to becoming a part of the SDNetwork community.

Sincerely,
Chris
 
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Newtonian21

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If you're going to sit down there and keep contemplating on your age, I think you're mistaking big time. You think 26 years old is too old to pursue a career in medicine? Go and shadow doctors and let most tell you their age. I am 25 now planning on taking the MCAT in Jan 2018. By then I'll be 27. With God willing I'll start when I'm 28 and finishing @ 32, at the end resting at 37-38. I am an RN BSN I have no other plan than to stay in this med school path just a heads up. Good luck, and study hard.
 

Goro

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Not at all! Just the opposite.
  • Is it looked down upon for individuals with initiated/established careers to apply for medical school? For example, will my background in counseling and my license as a psychotherapist hinder my application?

Nope. This idea of "committed" as you express it is a pre-med delusion. So knock it off.

  • If I cannot afford to go into a post-bac program and jump into things full-speed, and I use my tuition benefit at my current institution to take pre-requisite courses over the next couple of years and make high marks in them, will this look bad? Will it seem as though I am not committed?

Just the opposite. Non-trads bring wisdom, maturity, life experience, job skills and worth ethic to the table, something that many typical pre-meds lack. Residency directors have noticed lately that new residents have poor job skills, because residency is literally the first employment they've had!
  • Are non-traditional students less desired?

What community do you represent (and please don't say "Palm Beach"). Not all Hispanics are URM, but Spanish language skills are always valued.
  • I do identify with a couple of underrepresented populations in medicine, specifically Hispanic/Latino, and speak Spanish fluently (it is my native language).

Medicine is a calling, like being a cop or a soldier. You have to follow your heart. So start shadowing doctors and do some patient contact volunteering to see if this is truly for you. You've probbaly worked with the mentally ill, all the better, but see if you like interacting with sick and injured people, they dying, the elderly.
  • Ultimately, my biggest fear is that I place my PhD on pause, spend time and money in getting my pre-reqs completed, shadowing, and taking the MCAT, and then not getting in. Not only will I not have met my goal to be in medical school, but I'll be (I assume 28-29 by that time) without a PhD, either.

Some of my all time best students have been int heir 30s and 40s. I graduated a stellar one last year at 50, and she's now doing her residency at a Big Name school in southern CA.
  • If all goes positively and smoothly, what might a potential timeline look like for someone my age? I considered that by the time I finished pre-reqs, I might be 28-29, if I get in to medical school I'll be 33-34 by the time I finish curriculum, and then be in residency for another 3-4 years... so I won't finish until I'm around 37-38? Is this accurate?
 

DrMikeP

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I have a doctorate in psychology and adcoms were very happy with my background, so it's all in how you present your degree/career as to whether it will be viewed as positive or they wonder why the change.

Read what Goes said!

Best of luck

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk
 
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