In response to your question about my mother, the 42-year-old medical student: this was in 1989. She'd been a nursing instructor for many years, and after the family weathered a crisis, realized that she had always wanted to be a doctor. She had to retake all of the pre-med science classes (just as I am doing so right now). She also received a lot of flak for being an older woman with three kids--one admissions officer actually sent her a letter telling her to stay home and raise her kids! Some of her closest friends thought she would ruin her marriage and her kids. My godmother offered to adopt me and my sisters if she went in. She received some flak about being a medical professional already (a nurse), which made it tough. She finally got in at the Medical College of Wisconsin (which did a fabulous job, by the way). Below is an excerpt from a testimonial I left on Mike Grasso's website for Nontraditional students in response to his question about what it was like for the family:
" Honestly, it was real tough. We had to move from our home of twelve years and a comfortable middle-class lifestyle in suburban Oregon to a low income housing apartment in metropolitan Milwaukee. My older sister was just starting college, so suddenly we were all the way across the country from her. My little sister was starting sixth grade, and had a hard time making friends. I was just starting high school, and hated junior high, so I could have cared less that we moved. Unfortunately, my father was unemployed in Wisconsin for two years, so money was really tight. However, I think the experience made us a stronger family--my younger sister and I grew up with a different value system than we would have in Oregon, we weren't so concerned with material possessions and clothes, and our family and faith was strong. We matured very quickly. I was strictly forbidden to undergo the typical adolescent rebellion because the family just couldn't handle it.
WHEN you get into medical school (and always say WHEN, never if) I strongly recommend that you make your family a part of it as much as they want to be involved. Establish routines involving study time for yourself. Help the family understand the stress you are going through, and learn how to deal with that stress early on. My mother and I took a forty minute walk every day after school. She got to relieve some stress, and hear about how my day was. Take your kids with you to the study rooms at the college so they can study for their tests while you study for yours. Look actively for "quality time." Some of the best conversations I ever had with my mom was during the ten minutes she would take a bath. Finally, establish a firm "family time." My mother never studied on Sunday mornings, we always went out somewhere as a family. And we always ate dinner together every night.
Personally, I think the best time to go to medical school if you have children is after they've grown up a little. My sisters knew our mom was around when we were little. She did the carpool, Brownie scouts etc. etc. We also had gone on all the classic family vacations to Yellowstone Park and Disneyland while we had the money. By the time Mom went to school, we had developed a strong bond to her, and developed strong moral values ourselves. As much as I missed her when she was on-call, by that age I knew who she was, that she loved me and always would be there for me, and that she was doing the best she could."
My mother is currently in her 8th or so of practicing internal medicine in a rural town. She is in solo practice specializing in geriatrics, and living her dream. She tells me that if she'd known it would be so tough, she wouldn't have had the guts to do it.
I am finishing my prerequisites, taking the MCAT in April, and applying to medical school in June. I plan on joining her practice when I'm done with my training.
Thank you so much for your reply. I have been so busy at work, I have only managed to log into this site.
You have a remarkable story and a remarkable mum. I hope you achieve your dream and continue the life you desire the most.
I take your point about 'when' I will get into, as opposed to 'if' I will get in. I have wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remmember, but now after many years of running scared from this dream, I have decided to face to head on. I left my finance manager position in a large company to work for a hospital. I am completing my Masters program in public health and have managed to tell my manager about my dream. I will be sitting for the entrance exams this year.
However, I still have doubts, such as:
1. Am I too old - I am currently 31 and will be turning 32. I often feel tired and old.
2. Am I smart enough to do this.
I was married really early and have been through a lot of pain. It is only when concentrating on my dream have I been able to lift myself out from some of this pain. I just don't know if I have it in me to start all over again.
In response to your question: "Am I too old?" You are only 31/32. You are only a year older than me. You are still a "spring chicken" as my mother would say.
And, as Ann Landers says "How old will you be if you don't" If medicine energizes you, than you don't have to be worried about being any more tired or run down than the 22 year olds who are also medical students.
And as for being smart enough, you won't know until you try. Intelligence is not the deciding factor in getting into medical school or being a good doctor. Desire, Effort, Integrity, and Compassion are.
Go for it. Nobody can tell you to quit except you.
I am a Med I and am 31-years-old. I am not the oldest in my class, although I do have a pretty young class with 94% 25 and younger.
I was an advertising executive with a journalism degree when I started my med school adventure. It was scary to quit my job and start my pre-med classes not even knowing if I would get in. My fiance at the time (now husband) was pretty much the only one who supported my decision. Everyone else thought I was crazy, including my parents!
I got pregnant at the same time I started working on my 2nd degree. I didn't apply until my son was 3. This gave me plenty of time to do volunteer work and get some medical exposure.
The application process was quite nerve-racking, since my husband owns a business and the med school closest to where I live is pretty competitive. But it all worked out in the end.
I wish you the best of luck. You sound like you're on your way!
Once again, thank you so much for your replies. My desire is stronger than ever and with every passing day I am trying to build up enough knowledge to be able to pass the entrance exam. Although I will be much older than the other students, I will put these thoughts aside and concentrate on what I believe I will do best.
I wish you success .
I hope we continue to keep in touch during this journey.
I'm an almost-37-year-old M2. I AM the oldest person in our class, and am one of only 2 moms in our class of about 140 now. My class is really young, though....but the class behind ours has quite a few older moms. I won't pretend that it's easy, but it's definately worth the effort to me.