Want to change careers, but not sure if it's feasible.

Oct 19, 2020
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Hello, I thought this would be a good place to put this out there and see what people have to say!

I'm a 35 year old military veteran and software engineer. I've decided I don't really want to do this the rest of my life, even though I enjoy software. I'm interested in medicine for a few reasons, I like to help people, I want to do something meaningful, I find medicine interesting, and I love problem solving.

Currently I have ~60 credit hours towards a bachelors, although it's been a long time since I've taken any classes. I'm also slightly worried about chemistry since I found it tough when I was younger. If I can manage to finish my bachelors with the prerequisites for med school with a good GPA and pass the MCAT, then I would be applying to the Uniformed Services University. Since I'm an adult with mortgage and family to support, this seems like it would be the best path forward, since USU will pay you the whole time you are in school. I miss the military anyways, and at the end I would have an obligation to be a Dr for the military for minimum of 4 years.

The part I'm struggling with right now is the best way to finish the bachelors degree. As I need to work during the day, that means I would need to take classes during the evening. I'm having trouble finding any such program that would allow me to do so. Does that mean the best course of action would be trying to finish an online degree program? I'm not sure how that would work with labs though...

Have any of you been in a similar situation? I really need advice and appreciate any input at all. The goal is to have at least a reasonable plan in place before I even bring it up with my wife... Perhaps even just working on finishing the bachelors first before mentioning medical school at all... Is that crazy?

I've probably gone a bit long already, I think all the fundamentals of my situation are already written down.

Thank you all for your time.
-Josh
 
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M&L

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Hello, I thought this would be a good place to put this out there and see what people have to say!

I'm a 35 year old military veteran and software engineer. I've decided I don't really want to do this the rest of my life, even though I enjoy software. I'm interested in medicine for a few reasons, I like to help people, I want to do something meaningful, I find medicine interesting, and I love problem solving.

Currently I have ~60 credit hours towards a bachelors, although it's been a long time since I've taken any classes. I'm also slightly worried about chemistry since I found it tough when I was younger. If I can manage to finish my bachelors with the prerequisites for med school with a good GPA and pass the MCAT, then I would be applying to the Uniformed Services University. Since I'm an adult with mortgage and family to support, this seems like it would be the best path forward, since USU will pay you the whole time you are in school. I miss the military anyways, and at the end I would have an obligation to be a Dr for the military for minimum of 4 years.

The part I'm struggling with right now is the best way to finish the bachelors degree. As I need to work during the day, that means I would need to take classes during the evening. I'm having trouble finding any such program that would allow me to do so. Does that mean the best course of action would be trying to finish an online degree program? I'm not sure how that would work with labs though...

Have any of you been in a similar situation? I really need advice and appreciate any input at all. The goal is to have at least a reasonable plan in place before I even bring it up with my wife... Perhaps even just working on finishing the bachelors first before mentioning medical school at all... Is that crazy?

I've probably gone a bit long already, I think all the fundamentals of my situation are already written down.

Thank you all for your time.
-Josh
Dear Josh

I am a 34 year old veteran myself. I do not have a family, but a friend of mine (was active duty at a time) was in late 30s with kids when went through medical school application and now is a practicing physician who makes a lot of money and has a great life.

1) have a good conversation with your spouse/partner and make sure they are onboard. you will need the family support for this.
2) do NOT take prereqs online, but other classes can be online, so this might offer you a way out. Consider taking some prereqs in local community college, - they often offer early morning, late night and evening classes.

i will think of more advice to give you, but NO YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. this is totally doable. Go for it!!!! when you talk to your wife walk about the quality of life that your family will have, etc. Often spouses get on board when they realize how much more the family will have, - which means better life, better schools for kids, etc.

@Matthew9Thirtyfive any input?
 
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Oct 19, 2020
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Thanks for your quick response! I'm not sure talking about the money the career would pay would convince her, I already make 130k a year with no debt other than mortgage. I've already applied for admittance to the local community college, waiting to get my admission back. One thing I'm also worried about is cost of completing the bachelors. Since I have a high income, even though after mortgage and 401k I'm basically breaking even every month, I assume I won't get any FAFSA and I'll probably end up paying full price for classes... I have a little bit of GI bill left, but from what I remember it's useful for a certain number of months, regardless of class load. That means to make the most of it I'd need to attend full time, which I'm not sure how I could do while working full time + family. Obviously it wouldn't be a problem without the job... Honestly I'd just quit and do school full time if I had enough faith that I can get into medical school. I could sell the house and get an apartment near school and just knock it out... But I've been out of school a long time, and although I did well in middle/high schools, I did struggle previously in college because I never really learned how to learn so-to-speak. School before college was too easy and I unfortunately didn't have to try at it even though the habits and study ethic are probably more important than aptitude (or at least I've heard it said). Anyways, I'm rambling now and it's time to spend some time with the wife. I'll be back tomorrow to respond some more. Thanks again @M&L for your reply :)
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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It's totally doable. Agree with not taking the prereqs online. USUHS will accept some prereqs online (possibly all of them for right now due to COVID), but it is better to do them in person. As for the rest of your degree, that can totally be done online. My degree was done online, as were a lot of the non-trads in my class.

I'm a 36 year old vet (well, I'm active duty since I go to USUHS, and I didn't have any break in service). You can do it for sure.
 
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Oct 19, 2020
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@Matthew9Thirtyfive
I'm a 36 year old vet (well, I'm active duty since I go to USUHS, and I didn't have any break in service). You can do it for sure.
Wow that's awesome! Since you already attend there, maybe you could answer this. The prequisites listed say 1 year of X and one year of X lab. I assume that just means 2 semesters of X + 2 semesters of X lab. However, classes like CHM-151 listed here . It's 4 credits and says "Students will develop laboratory technique" . Does that means that I could take CHM-151 and CHM-152 and that would cover the 1 year of inorganic? Trying to plan this out and see what I can get done and knock out my prereqs at the CC. Also, since I'm a bit all over the place in my transcript since when I was attending I couldn't yet decide what I wanted to do, I'm not sure that what I have will line up with an actual degree path, especially if I'm taking addiotonal 100 and 200 level courses for prereqs at the CC level. If I got most of those preqeqs done that would probably be about what 30-50 credits? I haven't done the math yet... Anyways, I'm thinking that means I might need to get a college to agree to a custom degree plan to graduate me at 120 hrs, using my transcript + these prereqs and whatever 300/400 level courses they would require of me to finish out. I'm actually not even sure if something like that is possible, but I definitely don't want to throw away my 60 hours I already have!
 

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@Matthew9Thirtyfive

Wow that's awesome! Since you already attend there, maybe you could answer this. The prequisites listed say 1 year of X and one year of X lab. I assume that just means 2 semesters of X + 2 semesters of X lab. However, classes like CHM-151 listed here . It's 4 credits and says "Students will develop laboratory technique" . Does that means that I could take CHM-151 and CHM-152 and that would cover the 1 year of inorganic? Trying to plan this out and see what I can get done and knock out my prereqs at the CC. Also, since I'm a bit all over the place in my transcript since when I was attending I couldn't yet decide what I wanted to do, I'm not sure that what I have will line up with an actual degree path, especially if I'm taking addiotonal 100 and 200 level courses for prereqs at the CC level. If I got most of those preqeqs done that would probably be about what 30-50 credits? I haven't done the math yet... Anyways, I'm thinking that means I might need to get a college to agree to a custom degree plan to graduate me at 120 hrs, using my transcript + these prereqs and whatever 300/400 level courses they would require of me to finish out. I'm actually not even sure if something like that is possible, but I definitely don't want to throw away my 60 hours I already have!

That class appears to be a gen chem class with a lab. Just make sure. As long as it has a lab portion, it doesn't matter if the lecture and lab are listed separately or together like that.

The prereqs probably will be extra on top of your degree. Don't worry about them lining up with a degree path. But some schools will let you do like a pre-med degree or general studies or whatever that is just custom and you can use weird classes to fulfill it. Totally worthless except as a way to get your bachelors for med school lol. But also look into other degree options. You might be able to use the 60 hours you have as your general studies requirements and then knock out the 60 credit hours most degrees require. That's what I did.
 
Oct 19, 2020
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Just thought I'd update you guys...I finally talked to the wife about it, and she was very supportive. I'm going to enroll in biology and chemistry at the local community college. If I can get an A in both classes I'll keep going, but if I don't then I'll assume I'm probably not academically up to the challenge. Unfortunately, it's going to probably take me ~2-3 years just to finish my bachelor's so that sucks, but it is what it is. Any suggestions on prepping for a return to school? I haven't taken a chemistry class in ~20 years! A bit nervous about enrolling :)
 
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jhmmd

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Thanks for your quick response! I'm not sure talking about the money the career would pay would convince her, I already make 130k a year with no debt other than mortgage. I've already applied for admittance to the local community college, waiting to get my admission back. One thing I'm also worried about is cost of completing the bachelors. Since I have a high income, even though after mortgage and 401k I'm basically breaking even every month, I assume I won't get any FAFSA and I'll probably end up paying full price for classes... I have a little bit of GI bill left, but from what I remember it's useful for a certain number of months, regardless of class load. That means to make the most of it I'd need to attend full time, which I'm not sure how I could do while working full time + family. Obviously it wouldn't be a problem without the job... Honestly I'd just quit and do school full time if I had enough faith that I can get into medical school. I could sell the house and get an apartment near school and just knock it out... But I've been out of school a long time, and although I did well in middle/high schools, I did struggle previously in college because I never really learned how to learn so-to-speak. School before college was too easy and I unfortunately didn't have to try at it even though the habits and study ethic are probably more important than aptitude (or at least I've heard it said). Anyways, I'm rambling now and it's time to spend some time with the wife. I'll be back tomorrow to respond some more. Thanks again @M&L for your reply :)
I would argue to the contrary; study habits and work ethic are crucial but aptitude is of utmost importance as well.

Have you taken a practice FL AAMC test yet? Have you done any chemistry practice problems? There's a lot of chemistry on the MCAT.

Good luck with everything.

-J.
 

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Any suggestions on prepping for a return to school? I haven't taken a chemistry class in ~20 years! A bit nervous about enrolling :)

I'm you, only older (early 40's). The good news is that now there is YouTube to help you along. Chemistry is really important, so learn it for long-term retention (MCAT and med school). So is Biology for that matter. In terms of study habits, start developing good ones now because you'll really need them if you get into med school. Honestly, I'd start using Anki now and make your own flashcards that you can use for the MCAT and beyond. I'm using my notes from undergrad Biochem now. Put the work in and it will pay off. Don't cram for tests, use spaced repetition, etc. It will be hard now and get increasingly difficult as you progress, so you'll need to adjust accordingly. Use this time to figure out what works with an emphasis on retention and efficiency.

Also, look into CLEP tests for your non-prereqs as they can save you some time and money. I used ModernStates to test out of a bunch of things for free and it's legit. (Home - Modern States) Even if you pay for it yourself, CLEP tests save you a lot of time - just don't use them for prereqs.
 
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I'm you, only older (early 40's). The good news is that now there is YouTube to help you along. Chemistry is really important, so learn it for long-term retention (MCAT and med school). So is Biology for that matter. In terms of study habits, start developing good ones now because you'll really need them if you get into med school. Honestly, I'd start using Anki now and make your own flashcards that you can use for the MCAT and beyond. I'm using my notes from undergrad Biochem now. Put the work in and it will pay off. Don't cram for tests, use spaced repetition, etc. It will be hard now and get increasingly difficult as you progress, so you'll need to adjust accordingly. Use this time to figure out what works with an emphasis on retention and efficiency.

Also, look into CLEP tests for your non-prereqs as they can save you some time and money. I used ModernStates to test out of a bunch of things for free and it's legit. (Home - Modern States) Even if you pay for it yourself, CLEP tests save you a lot of time - just don't use them for prereqs.

Thanks for that link, I never heard of it before. Do you recommend it over khan academy? Right now I'm doing the khan chemistry course to prepare for intro to chem. I'm waiting to hear back from the chemistry head on if I will be able to test out using something called a "mooc", which my advisor said I should ask about. Do you know anything about mooc vs clep? Thanks!
 

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Thanks for that link, I never heard of it before. Do you recommend it over khan academy? Right now I'm doing the khan chemistry course to prepare for intro to chem. I'm waiting to hear back from the chemistry head on if I will be able to test out using something called a "mooc", which my advisor said I should ask about. Do you know anything about mooc vs clep? Thanks!

ModernStates prepares you (and pays for!) for the CLEP test specifically, so I probably wouldn't use it for chemistry. Personally, I used it for humanities classes that were not prerequisities for med school, but required for my degree.

MOOCs are more general information about a subject from my experience - although they may have targeted versions that I'm unaware of. Probably useful, but not as directed at what you need to know as Khan academy would be. Honestly, any MCAT prep book/resource is probably going to put you in the right direction for chemistry, which Khan academy technically is. I personally didn't jive with Khan; I think I'm too impatient, but many people swear by it.

Honestly though, you probably don't want to test out of chemistry as you'll need a year of Gen. Chem with labs anyway and it's something you'll want to learn really well.

The usual course is Gen chem 1 -> gen chem 2 -> organic 1 -> organic 2 -> biochem
 
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Chemistry isn’t difficult because it’s chemistry and everything is hard about it. You’re going to understand most of it but there will be a few concepts that don’t make sense and you’ll need further clarification. That’s where a 10 min Khan Academy video comes in. There is another guy on YouTube called the NinjaNerd who does an amazingly thorough job explaining topics but his videos are long- you’ll come out knowing a ton though. To understand chem, make sure you understand the topic at least a little then do practice problems to exhaustion. Explain it to your wife. Draw pictures. It isn’t like HS where you can just say “Ok. I get it” and move on. For an A, you’ll need a mastery which means you understand it even applied in a way you haven’t seen before. That stuff trips people up. I was in the same boat. I did my premed in my late 30s with 20 years between schooling then applied to med school at 40. I’m in my first year of med school now. I was a construction worker so I was as rusty as one can be concerning book work. It’s hard for sure but it can be done.
 

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It isn’t like HS where you can just say “Ok. I get it” and move on. For an A, you’ll need a mastery which means you understand it even applied in a way you haven’t seen before.

+1 to this. Also, being able to do the math problems (which much of chemistry is) is insufficient. You need to be able to do them quickly, so practice, practice, practice. If you don't know how to work with logarithms, you should learn that as well. Also, also, you'll need to memorize chem and physics equations for the MCAT, so do it as you go so they have time to harden in your brain.

It sounds like a lot, and it is, but it's very doable.
 
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If you don't know how to work with logarithms, you should learn that as well. Also, also, you'll need to memorize chem and physics equations

Could you expand on what you mean referring to logarithms? Also, as far as chem equations to memorize, do you mean something like this
 
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A little bit younger (late 20s) but Army Vet -> Engineer and decided it wasn't for me, so I fully committed. quit my job, and decided to use some GI Bill Benefits to float me through full-time community college (I know I know, now I don't have some months for med school but it's still better than paying for all of med school). I ended up self-studying for the MCAT the whole summer before taking Ochem or Biochem and getting 506-508. Don't exactly recommend that, but it is doable. Granted I'm not in yet, but have some interview invites even with an absolutely miserable GPA.

The military gives you a lot of "suck it up" factor, so if it's what you want I'm sure you can do it!
 
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A little bit younger (late 20s) but Army Vet -> Engineer and decided it wasn't for me, so I fully committed. quit my job, and decided to use some GI Bill Benefits to float me through full-time community college (I know I know, now I don't have some months for med school but it's still better than paying for all of med school). I ended up self-studying for the MCAT the whole summer before taking Ochem or Biochem and getting 506-508. Don't exactly recommend that, but it is doable. Granted I'm not in yet, but have some interview invites even with an absolutely miserable GPA.

The military gives you a lot of "suck it up" factor, so if it's what you want I'm sure you can do it!
Wait...how did you manage to pass MCAT without taking ochem before? That's actually insane, mad props to you man.
 

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I'm only trying to test out of the "intro" class, which they make you take before gen chem 1. So I'd still have 2 semesters chem and 2 of organic.

Ah yeah, you're fine then. The intro class is probably a waste of time.

Could you expand on what you mean referring to logarithms? Also, as far as chem equations to memorize, do you mean something like this

For chem equations, that's what you'll want. Don't learn them in advance, but do learn them well as you go.

For logarithms, you'll need to be able to understand and do simple logarithms with a calculator like with pH in your equations guide:
1604284042038.png

If you're planning to take Calculus, you will learn them there, but it's not necessary to take Calc first. You can learn everything you need for logarithms from YouTube.
 
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