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Too old to become a physician or surgeon ?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by intern123, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. intern123

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    Hi people. I am new to this forum, so please don't blame me if I post this thread not in the right place.

    I have one question that concerns me.

    I want to become a surgeon or a physician. But I am afraid that I am too old. Currently I am 26 yr. When I matriculate to med school next year (I hope) I will be 27.

    Do I still qualify for that profession or is it too late ?

    Besides, can you give me more details about what is the average age of first year med students in USA. As I understand I will be non traditional.

    p.s. sorry for my bad English, not mother-tongue :)
     
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  3. saylorsdad

    saylorsdad OSU-CHS OMSII
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    I know that age is a factor at some point however I think it is more of a limiting factor in what you what to invest rather than a specific age cut off. For a person in their 40's if it takes 12 years to become a surgeon "4 school + 8 residency" one could argue that they couldn't contribute to the field of medicine for long after 52 "13 years if they retire at 65". However if a person is 30 one could argue that they still have 20+ years to contribute to medicine and that seems significant to me.
    I'm 31 and am applying this summer if it helps I do think I will be one of the older students.
     
  4. gotmeds?

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    So let me get this straight. You're a whole 5 years older than the average applicant and you're afraid you'll somehow be disqualified because of your...ahem..."advanced" age?

    Rather than tell you what I really think of your question, I'll direct you to this thread: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=351126

    It was carefully hidden right on the first page of the non-trad forums.
     
  5. intern123

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    Thanks, I have read that thread, as I see there are many people with the same or similar age distribution as mine.

    Still I got doubt whether my age will become a limiting factor becoming successfull surgeon ?
     
  6. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    If you are under 30, no one is going to notice your age. To a 50 year old surgeon 21=27 -- all are kids. Even for the over 30 crowd there are many people who succeed in even the longest residency fields.
     
  7. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    FWIW, nontrads tend not to retire at 65, barring health issues, for exactly this reason.
     
  8. spicedmanna

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    This should be a very compelling hint that it can be done.

    Only if you decide that your age will be the limiting factor for you. I'm willing to bet that there are more than a few "successful" surgeons out there who started even later than you; they probably didn't let their fear thoughts about their age get the better of them. My advice to you: Love yourself exactly as you are right now and don't let your fears keep you from your dreams. Seriously, you are pretty much your own limiting factor in this process, your age notwithstanding. We are not here to ameliorate your doubts, nor could we, even if we wanted to. Only you can do that.

    Will some people hold your age against you on this long road? Yes, perhaps. Will it stop you from becoming the surgeon you want to be? Not likely. What could stop you, then? Yourself, if you keep insisting that your age will be your limiting factor.
     
  9. intern123

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    thanks, these words are really encouraging.

    Currently I am watching all best medical drama's about physicians/surgeon's day-to-day work: E.R., Grey's Anatomy, House M.D.

    I want to know how does it look like to be a doctor. Of course, I understand that many details in these TV series are fictitional, however you can still see and understand what it looks like to be and work as a doctor.

    So far, it is really amazing and fascinating.
     
  10. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Those shows are far from real and do not portray anything close to what it's like to "be and work as a doctor". There will be lots of scut work, lots of paperwork, and most of the ailments/cases are fairly routine. And most of the residents don't sleep with each other. And if you treat patients with the animosity of a Dr. House, you will not last long at any practice or hospital. I suggest shadowing a physician so you can actually see what physicians do. Because TV is not.
     
  11. Ben26TPA

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    While those shows are fairly entertaining, you might want to try and get some time shadowing doctors, volunteering in a hospital, or just working with patients to see what healthcare is all about and if it is right for you.

    TONS of people have their hearts set on becoming big doctors and surgeons because of what they saw or see on TV thinking that it is going to be similar to that....yet when the actually have time with "real" patients their story changes and they want nothing to do with healthcare.

    I was fortunate enough to have a few doctors in my family and a few close friends that are doctors so I got a lot of imput as to how difficult it is and most importantly how difficult the journey of getting to that point is.

    I have started the whole "pre-med" process at 25. I am still debating on whether or not I will take the MCAT in the spring of 08 or 09. Either way I'll be around 30 or so if and when I get into med school.
     
  12. Inkabellous

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    You're too old IF you think you are too old. It's all mental thing.
     
  13. gotmeds?

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    You know, up until now I wasn't sure if this guy was a troll. You'd get more mileage oujt of your posts in the pre-allo forum.
     
  14. agirl

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    deleted.


     
    #13 agirl, Apr 24, 2007
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  15. burntcrispy

    burntcrispy Member
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    The TV shows are probably a bad place to gauge what it is like to be a doctor. Unfortunately it is not as "cool" as they make it out to be. Grey's anatomy is definately the least realistic: they go to work in broad daylight, then have coffee, have sex with each other for a while, see one patient, then go home when they feel like it. Take the opposite of all of that and you are closer to what a doctor does.

    Then there is HOUSE MD: Go in to work, be as mean to the patients as possible, then misdiagnose them about 10 times before you get it right. Law is right, you wouldn't last long at all.

    As far as TV shows, SCRUBS is actually the most realistic of the bunch.

    I would suggest shadowing a physician. If you could get set up to shadow a resident it would be even better. You would see what its really like: 12-16 hour work days, every 4th night call where you work 30 hours straight with little/no sleep, nurses paging you nonstop when you are trying to admit patients into the hospital, constantly having 10 things that have to be done RIGHT NOW, etc. It is brutally hard work with a high level of stress. More than a few of my collegues say they would quit if it weren't for the loans. They say they definately woulnd't go through it again knowing what they know now.

    POINT: This is going to be a long, hard road. You had better know what you are getting yourself into.

    Burntcrispy, MD
     
  16. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    People like to say this but it isn't true either. I like scrubs but it simply isn't accurate - in many ways it is as flawed as Greys (and some of its residents have hooked up on scrubs too). They never do paperwork, always go home at night as residents, even the most abrasive character is way too nice at times, and a janitor f-ing with the residents wouldn't keep his job particularly long. Don't get your perspective of hospital life from TV. Nothing, including scrubs, does it justice.
     
  17. intern123

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    No, don't get me wrong, I am not an internet troll, there is no point for me to do useless flames. Why do you think I am a troll ?

    I really believed that these TV medical drama's reflect the work of physician. As I understand now, many of you say that it is waste of time, there's nothing close to a reality.

    well, perhaps it will be better to shadow a resident.
     
  18. intern123

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    Ok, people, I completely agree with you that it is useless to watch these medical drama's.

    So far I got an answer to the most important question about the age, it is good to know that you still have an opportunity to become a doctor.

    I got that table about the mean age of applicants and it shows that average age is 24, so I will be 3 years older than average. It is not so bad.
     
  19. burntcrispy

    burntcrispy Member
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    I didn't mean to imply that Scrubs is realistic, it's just more realistic than the rest. There is no realistic medical show. If there were nobody would want to watch it because it would be too boring. :) Nobody wants to watch a show where people are busting their butts working all day and night, filling out endless paperwork, treating the same 10 illness 99% of the time, and getting little respect/graditude for doing it.
     
  20. MIGLdr

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    I am currently 26y old (yep, past the 1/4 century mark T_T). I worked full-time in another industry for 3 years before deciding to return to school. Almost done with first semester back (yay!). There are 2 aspects to the "deciding whether or not I should do this debate."

    First, there is age of course. I believe that age is just a number. How old you REALLY are is determined by the sharpness of your mind, how physically fit or active you are, and finally and most importantly your attitude towards things in life. A person who meets this criteria who is in ther mid-30's, is in my opinion a lot younger then a 20 something playing World of Warcraft all day. :)

    The second consideration is in my opinion the most important one. It is, what are your responsibilities, and whether or not they will be affected by your choice of pursuing this long journey. For example, one of my former co-workers is about my age has a spouse and 2 kids already. If I were in that situation I would probably think long and hard before committing to this path. On the other hand, I am lucky enough to not have any responsibilities other the myself (and some credit card debt lol), so it was easier for me to make the jump.

    My $0.02.

    And I hate Gray's Anatomy. Sandra Oh hates her own kind. There is no greater crime.
     
  21. intern123

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    You are right. I agree that biological state is determined by sharpness of mind. And attitude is also very important. There is still room for improving myself, especially in the attitude field.

    Talking about responsibilities - I don't have family, children, or any financial debt. So the second consideration shouldn't concern me for now.

    p.s. Sandra Oh is not my favorite character. Too much frustration. I like Isaiah Washington - that's the portrait of perfect surgeon. As it was said - it's like marine. Only the best can do surgery.
     
  22. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Nah, it's equally flawed, just in different ways.
     
  23. intern123

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    Ok, let's forget those damn medical drama's - as far as I understood from all of you, they all have very little in common with real physicians/surgeons work.

    Well, the other thing that concerns me - motivation. What arguments you would use to motivate why you wanted to be a doctor ? I think that the most important one should be - you have to love this work.

    It's not about prestige, it's not about money (these things are not strong motivators), it's about job. IMHO.
     
  24. Skialta

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    I am 37 and starting a categorical general surgery residency in June. Age was asked at most interviews for me and I think it was a valid question but it was not a problem, I landed my first choice for residency. Do what you want, if you think you are too old then maybe you are. Good luck, you can PM me if you want.


    Skialta
     
  25. intern123

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    No, I don't think I am too old. My mind is sharp, my physical state is excellent, I feel good.

    Just wanted to know in general about the age distribution. I don't like to be the only one in such age, as I understood already there are many people becoming doctors in such or similar age.
     
  26. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    At 27, you are unlikely to be the oldest person in your med school class at any med school these days.
     
  27. drtroy

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    Hey I am 31 and just starting back on my undergraduate degree and I want to become a radiologist so I figure I will be about 45 when that comes. But hey, I can work another 20-25 years making at least 300-400k. Don't worry about your age, I have been told by some friends of mine that med schools are starting to want people a little older.
     
  28. SunshineNYC

    SunshineNYC SunshineNYC
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    You are at a fine age for it, however, some schools take younger students than other. I'm around your age and have been going through this application process and I find that I like the schools better with a higher average age. I've also found that the DO schools have more non-trads and older students, which appeals to me since I am one of them as well. So, look around at the average ages listed on each school's website and when you visit the schools you'll get an idea about it as well. Good luck and don't feel discouraged by your age.
     
  29. DoctorRhonda

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    I'm new to this board, but I am 26 and in the process of completing my UG and figure I will be 28 or 29 when I actually get into med school, I was worried about being the oldest person there but thanks to you guys I feel much better about this decision and although I wish I had gotten my butt in gear at age 18 I still feel like this decision is the right one!
     
  30. LifetimeDoc

    LifetimeDoc EM Attending
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    I'm 35, going to be 36 when medical school starts this fall. I'll be 40 when I'm an intern, and if I goto into surgery 47 when I get to practice. I'm seriously thinking about surgery in addition to EM and IM, and those extra 4 years between them for residency doesn't make a difference in my mind. You go into the field that you think will make you happy and where you will excel. We all won't really know what we want to do in medicine until 3rd or 4th year anyways, so don't worry about it at this point.
     
  31. primadonna22274

    primadonna22274 Senior Member
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    I know several internists who were traditional med students back in the day who are still practicing well into their 60s, one of them in his early 70s. The older guy is as sharp as any of the young ones, although a bit wordy on the phone...but his patients love him. They still do it because medicine is their life--what they love to do. I don't think 60 is as old as it used to be, especially if you're blessed with good health.
    And to the OP: I think you do pretty well expressing yourself in English. Just curious, what is your "mother-tongue"?
    If I still get into the medicine game (I'm a PA now but I never have quite shaken the idea of going back to med school), I will probably do it later in my thirties. I'm 33 now and just remarried and want to have a couple of kids first. I also don't want to move again for a long time but fortunately there are two MD schools within commuting distance and plenty of residency programs in a 2-hour radius. I'm trying to recruit my baby sister (ah, 22 yo) to come south for med school so we can help each other out. For that matter, I'm trying to get my parents to move when my dad retires next year...you know, line up my support system before I take the med school plunge....
     
  32. intern123

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    my mother tongue is lithuanian. but I love English. I want to improve so that I would talk without any accent. there is much work to do. In fact I love english more than my mother-tongue language. :)
     
  33. firecoins

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    whats the point of going to med school if you can't sleep with the hot resident?
     
  34. Law2Doc

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    After overnight call I suspect nobody is hot anymore.
     
  35. badasshairday

    badasshairday Vascular and Interventional Radiology
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    All this talk about TV shows and none of you bring up the best of them all.
    ER

    I need that high drama, none of that other greys poo poo and scrubbery. House MD is alright, but seriously, they misdiagnose 10 times each episode.
     
  36. intern123

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    Yep, I also agree that ER is most closely to reality. Greys Anatomy really sucks, because it emphasize love story, relations between physicians/surgeons, rather than showing their real work. They show neurosurgeon performing brain operation and don't show what actually he is doing, only that he is holding instruments from behind the curtain. that's fake ! I understand that these actors lack true knowledge so they have to do it somehow..
     
  37. medhacker

    medhacker We can end world poverty!
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    Hi skialta,

    I would be very grateful if you could share what questions you were asked. Thanks in advance.
     
  38. medhacker

    medhacker We can end world poverty!
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    Bump for Skialta
     
  39. wook

    wook Just a hairy situation
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    Dude/dudette:

    Never too old. As another poster mentioned it may change your retirement age, but if you plan on practicing for awhile it's no big deal. In my class of about 120, there were at least 25 of us older than 30. There were at at least 3-5 greater than 40 and even 1-2 greater than 50. Bottom line, don't worry about the age thing.


    Wook
     
  40. blueperson

    blueperson Member
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    I am currently 33 and will be 35 when I apply to medical school. While I know I can handle the hours (I work demanding 80/hour weeks now with a LOT of responsibility in a fast-paced environment). I decreased to 50-60 hours so that I could take Organic and Micro this past spring (getting home from class after midnight every night of the week due to the commute home from school). What I am more concerned about is the prejudices of admissions committees... of them being the ones deciding whether I'm too old or not. I have read on this website (or perhaps it was elsewhere) that many schools still prefer the traditional 22 year old applicant. How can one either 1) steer clear of those, or 2) beat the odds at them?
     
  41. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
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    One of those members of a couple of admissions committee here. Here is my prejudice: I am prejudiced toward well-qualified applicants who present a competitive application that is complete and well written. Both of my schools prefer well-qualified competitive applicants and make sure that the class is full of them.

    Note what I didn't mention: Age, color, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion.
     
  42. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    The only thing I would add to what njbmd said is to make sure you meet the school's residency requirements too. Age is the least of your problems if you are a strong candidate. Do your best to make your app as competitive as possible; you don't know what you can do until you try. :luck: to you. :)
     
  43. ShyRem

    ShyRem I need more coffee.
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    you will always encounter places that will discriminate. But you'll also find places where it just doesn't matter.

    Just remember: if you don't try, you certainly won't get in.
     
  44. wook

    wook Just a hairy situation
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    :thumbup:
     
  45. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Just to clarify, to become a surgeon doesn't necessarily take 8 years as some of the posters above have commented on.

    Most general surgery programs are 5 years in length; a few are a mandatory 7 years and if you are contemplating a competitive fellowship, then you may want to spend a year or two in the lab doing research. Fellowships are 1-3 years in length.

    So it may only take you 5 years to become the type of surgeon you want, or as long as 10 years (after medical school) if you prefer to specialize and do some research.

    FWIW, I was over 30 when I went back to medical school and finished my surgical fellowship after age 40. Age shouldn't necessarily be a deterrent.
     
  46. DrLizzie

    DrLizzie Still in the game
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    :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

    I mean really, all anyone needs is a good tv set!
     
  47. HreComesTheSun

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    always informative and encouraging posts Kimberli, thanks :thumbup:

    did someone above say that residents don't hook up? maybe it's just our dept at our institution, but there are some heinous ongoings that i WISH i didn't know about
     
  48. blueperson

    blueperson Member
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    What was it that they specifically asked about it? Or did they explain why they were asking? Were they concerned about the age itself or were they using age (assuming/generalizing) that it somehow indicates how commited or distracted one might be (for example if you are older you might have kids)? I'm just curious that they'd ask that. For any other type of "job" they wouldn't be able to ask that.
     
  49. Law2Doc

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    You are asking questions of someone who posted over a year ago...
     
  50. blueperson

    blueperson Member
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    I don't want to get off topic here, but this is one thing that concerns me about the field. I have heard from residents, med students and physicians about these types of things going on (one has been propositioned in stairwells and hallways, one was asked out during the surgery, one had a friend get a blowjob while putting someone under, one walked in on people hooking up in the call room, stories about nurses and docs and therapists all dating one another, docs telling stories of being hit on during work hours). It sounds like high school on steroids. I have always worked in extremely professional environments where one doesn't even speak about their personal lives much less engage in personal behavior with coworkers. I would be extremely uncomfortable in the type of environment you are describing. I volunteer to gain experience and while there have seen a resident come to work (when not scheduled) and "prance" before going clubbing so that the other residents and docs would see them ("just coming to say hi"). I have also witnessed a PA flirting with the anesthesiologist during surgery and then when the anesthesiologist left the OR for a moment she was asking about him, whether he was single, etc.). If that is what a lot of hospitals are like, I would reconsider medicine as a field. That just isn't me and my personality. I feel uncomfortable and not fit in. I want to help patients and not deal with the other behaviors and the problems they create within the work environment. It seems to be more rampant than one would expect. I am shocked the more I hear about it and see it. What has your experience been?

    I'm not sure if it is because I am older and perhaps the ones doing these types of behavior went straight from undergrad to med school and through training so have not had the opportunity to grow up? Or are the people that tend to go into medicine more of that type of personality? Just wondering.
     
  51. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
    Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Again, this thread is a year old and thus the person you are replying to probably won't see your response. I seriously doubt the bolded clause above ever happened in a hospital setting. The anesthesiologists are rarely alone in the OR -- there are always scrub nurses and circulators getting ready for the case once the anesthesia starts, and various surgeons walk into the room at about that time. Don't fall for the Grey's Anatomy hype. The show is probably the funniest thing on TV because a hospital is a very asexual place. People are up for 30+ hours and don't look their best. You see sick folks with STDs on a daily basis -- a constant reminder to keep it in your pants. There are legal (harassment) issues with hooking up with colleagues, bosses and underlings. And a huge percentage of folks by that age are attached (or unattached for a good reason). So I wouldn't stress about all the sex that's going to be going on in the wards. Will people who are attracted to each other flirt, maybe put out signals? Sure. Will they hook up in the call room on a moments notice? Only in letters to Penthouse. Sorry.
     

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