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How old is too old?

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journalisttomed

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I am 29 and considering getting my undergrad and then heading off to med school. I have owned a business in media but don’t feel that I am doing what I want to be doing. I can’t shake the idea of being a doctor. Has anyone ever gotten their undergrad late in life and gone to med school? Will I be the oldest in class? What advice do you have for me?
 

ACSurgeon

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I am 29 and considering getting my undergrad and then heading off to med school. I have owned a business in media but don’t feel that I am doing what I want to be doing. I can’t shake the idea of being a doctor. Has anyone ever gotten their undergrad late in life and gone to med school? Will I be the oldest in class? What advice do you have for me?
There’s usually one or two people in there 40’s and maybe even a 50 year old in class....
 
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Banco

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There was someone a few years ago at Weill Cornell in their 50s as an MS1.
 
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IMG69

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Do it. There's a 53 year old in my class.
 

M&L

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I got my bachelors at 33 and went straight to medical school. And I am by far not the oldest person In my class. You are totally fine. You will be surprised to find that age actually gives you a certain advantage .
 
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Osteosaur

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I started at 28. There are people in their 30's in my class. It will be fine. You're not going to stick out like a sore thumb and its not going to be awkward.

Maybe you won't be going to like drinking parties after exams but who cares? Its professional school.
 
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M&L

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I started at 28. There are people in their 30's in my class. It will be fine. You're not going to stick out like a sore thumb and its not going to be awkward.

Maybe you won't be going to like drinking parties after exams but who cares? Its professional school.
Started at 34- love the drinking parties !!! Hahaha
 

Osminog

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You’re too early in the game to be having this discussion. Finish your undergrad degree with good grades, and then you can decide if you want to spend the rest of your 30s studying for exams and getting bossed around/hazed by attendings, many of whom will be younger than you. If you decide that you don’t want to enjoy constant helpings of stress and punishment until you’re middle-aged (or if your academic credentials aren’t good enough to get in), there will be many other healthcare careers to choose from.
 
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Phloston

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I am 29 and considering getting my undergrad and then heading off to med school. I have owned a business in media but don’t feel that I am doing what I want to be doing. I can’t shake the idea of being a doctor. Has anyone ever gotten their undergrad late in life and gone to med school? Will I be the oldest in class? What advice do you have for me?
Normally people get out of medicine before they get too old.

I think there was a guy solidly in his 50s who was in my med school class IIRC.
 

Mad Jack

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You're too old when you're dead. The question is do you want to do this or not, because you're going to be working yourself ragged in your late 30s and early 40s when your energy level and health make your current state a distant memory. I'm not saying don't do it, just be aware it's gonna be exhausting
 

Redpancreas

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You'll get various answers to "how old is too old" really depending on the culture you're in. In the one I was brought up in, everything was seen as a stepping stone to the next thing and the quicker you go from X-> Y -> Z, the quicker you can get married and put your family's mind at ease. Years off are seen as failures and if I polled some people I grew up with, I'd imagine an answer like 25 (completely arbitrary). Then there's the more open-minded viewpoint that each step is really part of your journey and you choose how to make it. You're going to get different answers depending on who you ask and where they are on that spectrum. To complicate matters, there will be some who've come to terms with Decision A and then spite people who try for Decision B. In summary, I think it's best to ignore the "how old is too old question".

There's also a matter of motivation. A lot of people who throw out a number do so with the assumption that what they want out of life should be what everyone wants which is not the case. In terms of actually getting the MD and training done, it highly depends on the person and how much energy they have and their ability to apply it (execution of motivation). I have personally seen people from other careers very motivated come in at 29, rock the boards, match Ortho, and do very well. I also remember someone in their late 30s doing residency with me and he seemed a bit slow, but overall not a liability. It's all really a matter of how much you want it and how hard you're willing to push yourself for it. If you put me on a medical school admissions board and forced me to pick age cut offs instead of reviewing each on a case-by-case basis, I would probably be super systematic about it and say 65 is medicare retirement age. Medical school is 4 years and I will just assume post-grad of 4 years (+/-). I'd then make another (entirely arbitrary) rule that one should practice at least how long they trained. That would be 65-16 so 50 (49+1) would be my "too old is too old" number.
 
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NITRAS

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I am 29 and considering getting my undergrad and then heading off to med school. I have owned a business in media but don’t feel that I am doing what I want to be doing. I can’t shake the idea of being a doctor. Has anyone ever gotten their undergrad late in life and gone to med school? Will I be the oldest in class? What advice do you have for me?


Are you too old? No. There are a lot of things to this question.

But also be aware that the vast majority of people who go to college planning on going to medical school, don’t. They don’t have good GPA’s, or struggle with general weed out classes in undergrad and self select Out. Even most of those that actually apply don’t get In. Highly qualified applicants often time need a second cycle.

So, 4 years of undergrad (maybe less depending on if you have college credits, but you’d likely need to take biology, chemistry, organic, biochemistry, and physics, which is at least 2 years. MCAT, 4 years of medical school then at least a 3 year residency. So, likely need a decade of time.

Right now a physician can make serious money. A lowly paid MD is making a couple hundred grand, but most often you go a few hundred G’s in debt, and you aren’t contributing to retirement for a decade. If you have a great career, your opportunity cost of going to medical school can be quite staggering. No one really knows what you will get paid when you graduate and get licensed a decade later. It probably won’t be peanuts, but the socialistic tendency of the populace will be reflected in your paycheck.

Unless there is significant changes to reimbursement, you could work 40-65 and retire wealthy. You have less room for error than say I, who became an attending at 29.

Emotionally, it can be harder as your older, especially if you have a wife and kids. Medicine is hierarchical, often times to stupidly so. MS and residents can be degraded if their upper levels or just the system. As a MS3 during surgery, I had to get up there early (often a 0430) to make a stupid list at special copier to make a booklet. If this wasn’t done, i was yelled at for being stupid. preround, then round with intern at 0515, then with PGY3 at 0600, to be ready in the OR by 0700 to be either ignored while watching the resident get berated, or get pimped. Again most of medical school was a good experience, but there was tons of garbage, that looking back, didn’t need to be there.

Good luck. I hope you figure it out. I hope you enjoy your journey, wherever you go.
 
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eteshoe

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I started at 28. There are people in their 30's in my class. It will be fine. You're not going to stick out like a sore thumb and its not going to be awkward.

Maybe you won't be going to like drinking parties after exams but who cares? Its professional school.
lol have you seen the business and law school students party?

OP you're not too old
 
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deleted367183

I'll be devil's advocate. I started at 37 and now, at 43, I'm feeling pretty darn old. Not regarding energy level...just regarding life experience and every other little thing. If a friend came to me and said "I plan to start med school at 40 if all goes well," I would counsel them against it.
 

newdoctobe

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I'll be devil's advocate. I started at 37 and now, at 43, I'm feeling pretty darn old. Not regarding energy level...just regarding life experience and every other little thing. If a friend came to me and said "I plan to start med school at 40 if all goes well," I would counsel them against it.
Curious to see your reasons as to why? Wouldn’t you say you already lived a life before med school and already had those experiences? What is it that you are missing out on? I’m in my mid-30s and do sometimes wonder if this is not the right move to go to med school at this point, that’s why I ask. But I have pretty much already experiences what I need to - travelled, jobs, house, built a decent nest egg. So I ask myself what else is left? Another house? A newer car? More money in the bank ?
 
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deleted367183

Curious to see your reasons as to why? Wouldn’t you say you already lived a life before med school and already had those experiences? What is it that you are missing out on? I’m in my mid-30s and do sometimes wonder if this is not the right move to go to med school at this point, that’s why I ask. But I have pretty much already experiences what I need to - travelled, jobs, house, built a decent nest egg. So I ask myself what else is left? Another house? A newer car? More money in the bank ?

Oh no, that's exactly it, I mean just the run of ordinary life experience makes me feel different from my colleagues who have less of it. I tell people that it's like one of the clicks on those plastic lamp timers that plug in and turn your lights off and on--I felt some kind of click between starting prereqs at 31 and starting school at 37 that made me feel a lot older than my colleagues. But the feeling was worse in med school than in residency. I feel less out of place in residency, even though I am older than the junior attendings!!!!!

One factor that seems little but matters a lot is that I don't go out on Friday nights for religious reasons. (Here I am typing this on Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, but let's ignore that.) I don't go out Friday night and that's when the majority of med school and residency socializing happens, at least in my programs. If I had been able to socialize more outside of class, I certainly would have felt less alone. I also had a long-term boyfriend in town during first year--he's much older than I am, even, so we certainly were not going as a couple to drink beer with people. Make a point of developing those extracurricular bonds, is what I'm saying.

From a purely financial/pragmatic perspective, I don't think 37 is too old to start. But it is right on the border. I ran the numbers again and again and medicine always beat midlevel practice (I dropped out of a nurse practitioner program to start prereqs). I consider residency to be part of my career proper, so working from 41 to 71 is a good 30 years, long enough to make it worth it for me. The average Gen X/millenial is not going to be able to retire at 65, anyway. It also seems like forensic pathology (my field of choice) is pretty amenable to people coming in per diem to do a couple autopsies, if I still feel like working a little in my 70s. But I can't imagine PLANNING to work much past 70. What if you get sick? I mean, if one wants to start school at 45 and start residency at 50, that's your business, but there's got to be a limit somewhere in there.

I am now aggressively saving for retirement, as you can imagine. My strategy is pretty much to not change my standard of living and invest all the rest as my income increases. I mean, I now can basically buy any food that I want at the store, doesn't have to be rock bottom cheapest, but I'm not going on trips or anything crazy like that. The one thing that worries me is not being able to afford home care for my mother when the time comes, but she had me at 24, so she's pretty young now, only 68. I am hoping that Medicare home care options will be expanded by the time she gets there.

Hope this is helpful!!!
 
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Goro

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I am 29 and considering getting my undergrad and then heading off to med school. I have owned a business in media but don’t feel that I am doing what I want to be doing. I can’t shake the idea of being a doctor. Has anyone ever gotten their undergrad late in life and gone to med school? Will I be the oldest in class? What advice do you have for me?
29 is not old!

Some of my all-time best students have been in their thirties and forties. I graduated a Stellar One at age 50 a few years ago. She is now an attending in Southern California..
 
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DO_or_Die

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I am 29 and considering getting my undergrad and then heading off to med school. I have owned a business in media but don’t feel that I am doing what I want to be doing. I can’t shake the idea of being a doctor. Has anyone ever gotten their undergrad late in life and gone to med school? Will I be the oldest in class? What advice do you have for me?
I'm only a first year turning 28 in april. I'm not the youngest (a majority of the class is 22-24) but I'm definitely not the oldest. Tons of older people with families, several in their late 30's/early 40's and one guy in his 50's. You're not too old.
 
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Ganon

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I'm in my 30s as an MS3

For me, personally, I think I'd still do it until about age 40 or so.
 
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DocJanItor

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I'm in my 30s as an MS3

For me, personally, I think I'd still do it until about age 40 or so.
As an M4 in my early 40s, I agree. If I had to matriculate at 40+ I would not do it knowing what I know now unless I was super energetic and planning to go into a primary care (read: short) residency.
 
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