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I'm in... I'm old... How do I prepare?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by pete., Oct 9, 2001.

  1. pete.

    pete. Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2001
    Just hoping for some honest advice and / or pertinent experiences, which may shed some light on, or help me prepare for medical school. I'm a 32-year-old husband and father of 2. I've just been accepted EDP to my state school and I recognize the fact that I've got 10 months to prepare – I'd like to use it.

    While I'm pretty fired up, I'm also a little nervous about the challenges ahead. I'd like to hear anything relevant to my circumstance (married / kids) – as well as any advice (in the general sense) which would help to prepare me for med school in the next ten months.

    Since I can't apply for financial aid (I'm not independently wealthy) until January, I don't really have a clear picture of what my financial picture will be like. I'm under the assumption that the wife will work and earn while I get through mostly on loans. I didn't come all this way to fail out of med school because I had to work 30 hours a week to keep 2 cars for my family…

    Academically, I'm wondering which classes 1st year med students have had the most problems with – If you could do it over again, would you have prepared differently. I'm not going to spend 4 hours a day with my nose in a book from now until August, but I sure don't mind spending an hour or two a day, refreshing myself on topics which may cause me trouble later..

    So hopefully you all get the idea….

    I'm sure there are existing threads on this topic, but this is just my first stop. Any direction to other threads is welcome. I've found this message board to be a very valuable resource in my pursuits and I respect many of the posters – thanks in advance.

    … 2 more things

    1. Anyone else with questions about prep – please feel free to post here. The more the merrier
    2. For those still in the application process – I wish you the best. I recognize how fortunate I am in being done with this God forsaken process early. Hang in there.

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  3. Cobragirl

    Cobragirl Hoohaa helper ;) 10+ Year Member

    Aug 18, 2000
    In residency HELL
    Okay, here goes...

    First a little background on me, since you want an "older/married" opinion:
    31 yo, married 5 years, no kids (but have a dog, macaw, parrot, parakeets, and 4 fish tanks that take up time kinda like kids), and a 1st year med student.

    First off, it will be next to impossible to work...some people are able to get in about 10 hours a week (but not at MY school!) but that certainly won't pay any car you REALLY need to try to pay off as many debts as possible BEFORE you get in. Your wife's income will have to take care of the majority of the bills because your loans are budgeted as if you are an 18 year old, single kid living with 4 roommates!!! After tuition/books/equipment, you'll probably have a couple thousand left to throw around each semester (assuming you're at a state school)

    As for "beefing up" beforehand, if you can take an anatomy course, I would HIGHLY recommend it. Not neccessary to make it through the first year, but Anatomy is a MAJOR time consumer, and if you already have a background in it, it will give you more free time with your family. I spend about 6 hours a night studying (for everything...but mostly anatomy..and I HAVE a background)

    Histology is another tough one, so if you can get ahead in that, you'd be doing yourself a big favor.

    You'll have to work out your study schedule depending on your school's curriculum. At UF, we have classes from 1-5 most days, although we do go from 8-5 once or twice every week. Most people either stay up REALLY late studying (me) and then sleep in, or they go to bed at a reasonable time and then get up around 6-7 and study til noon (have to get to school an hour early to find parking!). If you stick to a consistant schedule of studying, you "should" be able to take one of the weekend days off completely (but not during exams weeks!)

    You will definitely have to work out a good place for you to study. Personally, I prefer to study at home, but I have to lock myself in my study and be completely oblivious to my hubby. With kids, you may need to find someplace other than home to study.

    Hope this helps! Congrats and Good Luck!
  4. groundhog

    groundhog 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Get yourself a $1,000,000 level term life insurance policy (still cheap at your age) and a good disability insurance policy (insurance companies provide them to medical and dental students as public relation loss leaders because they hope you will look to them for big time insurance policies once you begin private practice).
  5. spacecadet

    spacecadet Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2001
    Houston, TX

    I'm in a similar situation. Not accepted yet, but hoping! I'm almost 32 with a hubby and an 18-month-old son (he's so cute :)).

    I don't have any advice, but I'm glad you posted this so I can learn with you. Cool.

    I think that you can claim your two children when you get loans, so that should help you get enough to live on (can't claim spouse though, I think).

    Congrats on your acceptance! That is great!
  6. vhl

    vhl Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2000
    Congratulations! What a relief to be done so early in the game...

    How old are your kids? I'm 33, mom of two (7 and 5), and a second year. Depending on your school (and it might help to talk with some current second years there), you might want to take biochem (wish I had :)). I didn't review at all beforehand and it turned out fine, but it really depends on your own personality and study style. Think back to college (I know, I know, it was probably a while ago...), or the MCATS-were you the typw to study hours a day, or did you do OK with a few extra hours before an exam? While there are some exceptions, it seems like these generally hold true in medical school (with the hours increased a bit). We're in class 3 days 8-5, and two days 8-12, so I usually study at night once the kids are in bed, and on the free afternoons. I also work a few hours a week on a research project leftover from my pre medschool days. Any more than that would be pretty tough, especially if you want to see your family. As for loans, I think most places allow you to get an increase in unsubsidized loans if you have kids or other unusual expenses. Try to start to cut down on your spending now, if that is a problem for your family.

    Good luck!
  7. BeckyG

    BeckyG Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 5, 2001
    Hi Jetson,

    I agree with Cobragirl's statements - if you can become familar with anatomy and histo, your life will be a lot better in the first year. Granted, you do not have to do a lot- if I could "do over" the year before med school, I would have taken an anatomy course non-credit and maybe a histo course. Repeat: Not for credit -- just to become familiar with the terms, etc. Biochem was my major, so I am not having trouble there - but it would be good to understand the basics before you start (especially for pharm). The only thing I did do was buy a medical terminology book and learn that - it has really helped when they throw out diseases or conditions in reference to your basic sciences. Otherwise, have fun - you'll be working really hard once classes start, so make the most of the "free" time you have now. Take care,

  8. tc

    tc Member 10+ Year Member

    May 27, 2000
    Dallas, Texas
    I'm 38, wife and 2 kids, MS1 at U Texas Southwestern. Send me an email. I'll be happy to answer your questions.

    [email protected]
  9. pete.

    pete. Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2001

    Thanks to everyone for taking the time - Cobragirl, thanks for being the first to take it on! I should be getting some additional information from the school in a few weeks and I'm hoping that they offer some 2nd / 3rd year contacts that would be willing to share some ideas. It sounds like biochem (if you haven't had it) and anatomy are some good places for me to start. I was thinking of finding out the texts and buying them now - or are there better resources elsewhere?

    When I get the opportunity in a few weeks, I plan to ask about getting a syllabus / course outline for the first year classes. Hopefully that will help a little or at least give me some direction - I don't know that my job will afford me the time to take a class next semester, so this may be self study - any suggestions there?

    Groundhog - as far as insurance - my brother in law is rep for Northwest Mutual - both my wife and I own policies - but not bad advice. I still need to discuss earning potential with him - you make a good point.

    As far as debt - We own everything under our roof including our cars - we just don't own the roof itself. I'm assuming that only having a house payment will be better for my financial aid picture - anyone have any experience or input on this. It's my understanding that I can fill out a form to represent the lost income for myself and that there is some forgiveness for kids (spacecadet). I'm sure I'll see soon enough.

    All in all, I feel fairly well prepared, and while I don't care to spend the time to be first in my class - I'd like to stick around the top half. It's been a long time since some basic sciences - how much chem I & II does a guy really have to know?

    By the way - for those who asked. The kids are 2 yrs and 3 mos. - I don't want to be a stranger to them - you know...

    To all - thanks again. Please keep the replies coming - I see I'm not the only one in this boat.

    PS - spacecadet - I'm a 3rd year applicant - DO NOT GIVE UP!
  10. SimulD

    SimulD Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    Alexandria, VA

    I'm a first year and I'm pretty overwhelmed, but still doing pretty well.

    My suggestions would be to somehow figure out what kind of learner you are. A lot of schools offer some sort of a 'learning preferences' test. Find out if you are audio, visual, verbal, kinetic, whatever ... then you can make decisions on classes.

    I say this b/c most schools have far more lecture time than you have time available in the day for studying and lecture. If you find that lecture doesn't work for you, but hands on stuff does, go to the labs, and spend the class time in the library reading the text and looking at Netters'.

    Also, I don't think any thing could have prepared me for the onslaught of terminology, structures, and function of anatomy. It is way too much. I'm not sure how much a previous anatomy course would help, but it definitely wouldn't have hurt. Histology is impossible to learn without actually being in the class, and embryology is a real pain because my mind doesn't work well spatially, so I need to really spend time on it, but if you have a good textbook (the new Moore) and good spatial reasoning, I bet you could teach yourself embryology in the time before med school starts, and then rock the actual course.

    Oh, and btw, the 'oldies' in my class are kicking butt, they just seem to know how to use time well, and already seem to know how they maximize learning.

    I think you will rock, good luck to you...

    Tulane Med '05
  11. Future_Doc

    Future_Doc Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Sep 24, 2001
    Well Jetson, I think you and I will see (and hear about) a lot of older students like us. I have been accepted to our state med school and have deferred until next August. I will be 30 then, with a 20-month old son and wife. I feel like the toughest adjustment will be becoming a full-time student again after 8 years and not receiving a paycheck every other week. I think that taking post-bacc courses half-time and working full time prepared me some, but I think I'm in for an eye-opening experience. However, I think it is exactly that that gives us an advantage in some ways. So don't stress it! I'm sure you will do just fine! My wife is an Occupational Therapist, so we should be ok financially. Also, she has several textbooks that she used in her gross anatomy course. I spend a lot of my free time studying muscles and such to try to get ahead. I also purchased the Histology textbook (an inside track told me that they would use the same one for the next few years) that the Freshmen use. I have started looking at it as well. I think that those are the two most time-consuming courses that you will take your freshman year. But most of all, I try to have fun with it. I don't want to do any of this if I am not enjoying it, and up to this point, nothing brings me more joy between 6:30am and 5:30pm then when I am able to study. Good Luck in your studies! I hope this helped.
  12. tidy_kiwi

    tidy_kiwi Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 17, 2001
    Auckland, NZ
    I have no financial or study advice to give. But I would say - if you are not in shape, it may not be a bad idea to work on your fitness between now and the start of med school (this goes for all ages). Healthy body, healthy mind and all that. Especially for those of you having to chase those rugrats and toddlers all over the show! ;)
  13. vhl

    vhl Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2000
    Instead of getting textbooks to preview the material, you might want to look at board review books-they tend to give a good overview of the material, while many of the texts are really dense.
  14. pete.

    pete. Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2001

    Thanks to everyone for taking the time. This is all great - I hope some other premeds can get some use out of this - especially the older ones!!

    Again - thank you all... Good luck to those still hoping :)
  15. nochaser

    nochaser Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 31, 2001
    Hi...I'm one of those "still hoping" :)
    Haven't been officially rejected yet, but no interviews have come my way, and my Aug. MCATS were horrible, but will re-take in April. Anyway, I wanna thank you, Jetson, for starting this post, and to all of you that responded, as this info applies to me also. I am a mom/wife, 33, kids are 5 and 7. I'm not a straight A student because I like having fun with my young'ins, especially on the weekends :D How do med schools look at this? Anyway, here's to all of you mommy/daddy docs to be!
  16. pete.

    pete. Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2001
    nochaser -

    I think it depends on the school and the adcom. Since I'm a 3rd year applicant (I also took the mcat twice), I had the opportunity to meet plenty of staff at my state school and I never made any secrets of being a 'family man' first. This, however, may not work for everyone - so be careful. I think your best bet would be speaking to a pre-med advisor you know and trust (who is familiar with the programs you wish to attend). A good advisor will know whether or not that is something you should bring up.

    Good luck - don't quit - ever.

    ... and give the kids a big hug :)
  17. vhl

    vhl Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 6, 2000
    Hey nochaser! I'm a 33 yo mom with 5 and 7 year olds too! Boys/girls/mix? (Mine are boys). I made no secret of my parenthood in apps (being an at home mom was in my personal statement), but I think depending on the school you have to be careful how to frame the kid issue-adcoms want to believe that they'll come at least close to being first! My school's always had the rep of being "non-trad" friendly, but I'm the only parent in my class, and there are just two (both fathers of infants) in the class behind. Yet a 4th year I know with little kids got AOA (I think moms have an innate efficiency that helps us multitask and get more done!).

    Good luck!

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