“It’s never too late to start a new adventure.” “You’re only as old as you feel.” All trite and common statements people tend to make when they hear about a woman of a certain age taking on a new project. The condescending looks and glib comments often are repeated over raised eyebrows and pathetic head tilts. “Isn’t she sweet?” and “bless her heart” can be heard as they wonder what the heck you are trying to prove. Well, you can just shake all that off, because you need to follow your bliss and forget the naysayers. When you really set your mind to it, you can do anything – even become a doctor – no matter how old you are.
Get into medical school. You have to pass the Medical College Admission Test to get into medical school. Talk to an admissions counselor to see what other requirements you will need to fulfill before you begin the process.
Compile a list of practical experience that combines with your passion and your previous schooling to make you an ideal medical school candidate. List experience you have taken care of sick kids or parents, how you volunteered at the local hospice or the work you have done in any capacity in the medical field. It will count on the admissions application and could push you over the line to get accepted.
Ask your family to get on board because you are going to need all the support you can muster. If you have kids, they won’t be seeing much of you for the next decade or so. Your husband is going to have to learn to cook and clean house. If you’re single, ask your friends to support your decision and if any of them want to be negative, let them go. You need positive reinforcement as you make this incredible journey and fulfill your dreams.
- Know that you won’t be alone. According to a 2011 Association of American Medical Colleges report, 10.7 percent of medical school graduates were between the ages of 30 and 32, and 5.6 percent were older than 33. By the time they finish residencies and internships, most of those older students will be in their early 40s. Called nontraditional students, medical schools are increasingly encouraging older students interested in a medical career to apply to help stem the growing shortage of doctors in the U.S. and around the world.
- Prepare to make some sacrifices. It takes between seven and 11 years to complete all the classes and training you need to be a doctor. Expect to put in long hours (up to 80-hour weeks in residency). Unless you are independently wealthy, you can expect to pile up some hefty school loans too.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."