I am 37 an IT consultant and a languages graduate with honors. Can I get into
medical school? I think my vocation is to become a doctor and I am concerned I
am too old.
The Career Doctor responds:
I am a strong advocate of the career philosophy that it doesn’t matter how
old you are when you decide it’s time for a career change. It may be a little
harder for you to get your brain back into the education mode and it may
be a little more rusty than those recent college graduates attending medical
school in their 20s but if you don’t take a long and hard look at the possibility
of following your true calling you may spend the rest of your life being
miserable — or at least unhappy in your career/job.
Here’s what I suggest you do to help you determine whether to make a career change.
- Spend some time in self-reflection. It appears you already have done
some of this assessment but take some more time to really understand
yourself. Identify the key aspects and attributes of what you want to do
next with your life. Then conduct some research so you truly have a thorough
understanding of the pros and cons of being a physician.
- Assuming you still have a desire to become a physician contact a career services counselor from your alma mater and/or the faculty adviser for the pre-med
program and discuss your options. At a minimum you’re probably going to need
to go back to school for the core science courses — and probably a few other
refresher courses. There are also numerous sources in print and online that give
advice about getting into medical school. Learn more in this section of Quintessential Careers: Graduate School Resources.
- Find a mentor. Perhaps your family physician perhaps some other doctor.
Having a mentor in the profession you want to change to is extremely beneficial –
and you’ll be very happy you took this step.
- Identify medical schools. With the help of your alma mater (or other university)
and your mentor as well as any other sources identify medical schools that have a
profile that fits your needs — and where you fit their profile.
- Study for the standardized tests and then take the Medical College Admission Test (MCATs).
- Assuming you have the academic background the grades and the standardized test scores apply to med schools and wait for their decisions.
And remember at any time in the career changing process you can make adjustments to
your plans. If medical school doesn’t work out for you perhaps there are other “helping”
vocations where you can find your true calling and find fulfilling employment opportunities.
You can find lots of career change resources including helpful articles and quizzes by going
to this section of Quintessential Careers: Job
& Career Resources for Career Changers.