Thinking of becoming a physician starting at age 39?
November 8, 2013 11:29 AM   Subscribe

I am currently 39 and will need to finish my BA first. What are the chances that I will be accepted into medical school, internships, residencies, and hired at this age?

I am currently 39 years old, and am looking seriously at becoming a physician, probably in anesthesiology or surgery of some type (also possibly cardiology). I do not currently have an undergraduate degree, though I have 2-3 years worth of college credits. Also, I was a paramedic on the fire department for close to 10 years in a busy urban department. I was successful at it, both in terms of bedside manner and in understanding the "why's" behind a treatment. My skills were excellent and I was a mentor for other paramedics.

Due to injury, I was no longer able to continue being a paramedic. I started a company doing IT consulting, but it didn't work out exactly as planned, and now after several more years, in some ways I am starting over.

One of the biggest reasons for wanting to become a physician is the money, and this desire has played a role in which specialties I have chosen (along with interest). Of course, I also genuinely want to be of some kind of service to others, and I am interested (and skilled) in medicine, etc. But money has been an obstacle for me for much of my life and I want to solve it, so to speak, in whatever career I choose next. I am more pragmatic and practical than I was in my early 20's.

Am I crazy? Are the odds of getting into med school or residencies, etc. horrible if you are as old as I will be? Do acceptance and hiring committees have any interest in older candidates (as far as being more well rounded, more stable, more life experience) as compared with young people fresh out of college? What are the risks? And are there any tips/tricks or resources that might be helpful for me while trying to sort this out?

Much appreciation for all who comment.
posted by derward to Work & Money (39 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If your reasons for wanting to become a physician are monetary, then I have to say I think you are indeed starting too late. You don't say whether you're going to need to take out a boatload of debt to finance this endeavor, but I imagine it's true if money has been an obstacle for you. You're looking at at least 2 years of classes, having to take the MCAT, applying for med school, then doing a residency and possibly a fellowship if you wanted to specialize. You'll be 50 by the time you get an actual job, and you'll have to pay down that debt for a long time.

This is not a recipe for financial success.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 11:37 AM on November 8, 2013 [15 favorites]

One of the biggest reasons for wanting to become a physician is the money

Your logic is flawed. You're going to be accumulating massive student debt to become a doctor, and you won't have anywhere near as much time as the younger ones have to pay it off. You say money has been an obstacle for much of your life... this would be making it 100% worse I think. You can be of service to others without being a doctor. Maybe look in to shorter medical lab tech type programs.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:38 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine just became a Physician's Assistant where I don't think she had to go to med school or do a residency. So, much less schooling and debt but very similar career path.
posted by jillithd at 11:39 AM on November 8, 2013 [6 favorites]

One thing to heavily consider is debt.

For medical school, you are most likely looking at going to school in the Caribbean. Even brand new 22 year old college grads with top grades from well respected schools often fail to be admitted to US medical schools and instead end up attending a school in the Caribbean.

This is not cheap.

Consider, too, that you're looking at getting a bachelors at 42 (in a best case scenario where all your credits transfer), and finishing med school at 46. You'll then do an internship and residency, and officially start practicing at 49. And this is in a perfect world where you move through the process as smoothly as possible. After that begins the long years of paying back your considerable student loan debt. I don't know how quickly a specialist would be able to pay back loans, but are you prepared to be paying them off until you retire? (Assuming you plan to retire somewhere in your 60s.)

You're looking at, minimally, 8 years of not making great money (and some of that time not making any money), and many more years with a big bite of your income eaten up repaying your loans.

Looking forward at the rest of your work life, does that seem feasible?

And, again, this is assuming that you even stand a chance of getting into medical school, which is a big question mark. Being a paramedic and being a cardiologist are two extremely different things.

But, OK. Best case scenario, you retire at 70 having maybe paid off all your student loan debt.
posted by Sara C. at 11:41 AM on November 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

I can't address your main question, but I think you should take a realistic look at 1) how much debt you will incur, inclusively--from finishing your degree to admission/prep to tuition to books to the opportunity cost of not working while you're in school; 2) how long it will be until you're drawing what you think of as a physician's salary (hint: you may be close to 50) and 3) how long you can expect to work productively once you're out. Seriously, make a spreadsheet and plug in some realistic numbers. You will need to love the work for this to be a worthwhile life path. Many people who become physicians have a literal 20 year head start on you, and that's a significant part of your working life.

In summary: consider an allied health degree, if you're inclined to the health sciences. There are lots of low cost options which can be completed in a few years, often as an associate's or bachelor's degree: radiology tech, pathologist's assistant, medical laboratory scientist/medical technologist, perfusionist, etc. On preview: PA school could also be a good choice, or consider becoming a nurse practitioner.
posted by pullayup at 11:42 AM on November 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

i don't think anyone can boil this down to a percentage chance. it's obviously a non-traditional career arc, but one hears of people doing it, becoming doctors at an advanced age. if you don't make the effort, the percentage chance is zero.

it is good that you acknowledge to yourself about the money, but this raises other questions - will the money still be there when you reach the end of this road in our rapidly changing healthcare landscape, and can you weather the notoriously non-lucrative stages of internship and residency on your way to becoming a beverly hills doctah?

don't back down just because you're old. at 58, i aspire to be a bestselling novelist!
posted by bruce at 11:44 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is a case study of going broke getting rich. There are so many years of schooling ahead of you, and so much debt that you really might not ever be out from under it.

It might be another thing if you said, all my life I've wanted to be a doctor and I can't be happy doing anything else. But that doesn't sound like what you're telling us here.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:44 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

From some cursory research, a doctor is expected to retire around 65 and like thewumpusisdead says, you'll probably be around 50 when everything is said and done and you are a physician who can practice freely and pull an income.

That gives you ~15 years to pay off the debt from medical school. Based on some more cursory research, the average post-medical school debt load is $170,000. So you'd have to pay at least $11K per year in debt (plus interest) to discharge it before retirement.
posted by griphus at 11:46 AM on November 8, 2013

I should add, by way of context, my ex wife graduated medical school with about $350,000 in debt for med school alone. Her salary for the next six years or so was between $40-55K, which was not enough to make much of a dent in that debt. Loan payments were well above $1000 a month.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:47 AM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

You are looking at over a decade of schooling that will require many overnight/call rotations and memorizing entire textbooks before graduating with likely around a quarter of a million dollars in debt. The better paying and better quality of life gigs are really competitive and require academic success at highly regarded institutions, high board scores, and an acceptable level of scholarship before even being interviewed for those residencies (which then add even more years of schooling and debt); I think the odds of you having the energy for all of that are low. The less competitive gigs, like GP/PCP and pediatricians, make much less.
posted by vegartanipla at 11:47 AM on November 8, 2013

Consider, instead, getting a nursing degree. It takes much less time, costs much less money, and leads to a stable career with many more options. A CRNA, for example, can earn in the low six figures with far less educational costs. This meets all your criteria: decent money, reachable goals, helping people, medical field.
posted by Capri at 11:50 AM on November 8, 2013 [26 favorites]

You may want to consider nursing. No, it is not as prestigious or lucrative. It also doesn't cost a quarter of a million bucks and take eight years to become a nurse.

You know you have medical skills and you want to use them- that's commendable. Just don't latch onto the fallacy that "doctor equals money" and fail to consider your other options in the medical field.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:50 AM on November 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh, and I should add- I know a man who switched from being a cop with a paramedic certification to being a nurse. He was married with three kids at the time, and probably about your age. He loves his job. It's not too late for that route!
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:53 AM on November 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

You can absolutely become a doctor. Fast track:

Go to a medical school in the developing world (Philippines, India,etc.). For such schools, no BA is required - you can go straight from high school. At 39, you will not be out of place there.

After this, you come back here and take your USMLEs.

I won't touch the issue of monetary pursuit.
posted by Kruger5 at 12:01 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Go to a medical school in the developing world (Philippines, India,etc.). For such schools, no BA is required - you can go straight from high school. At 39, you will not be out of place there.

After this, you come back here and take your USMLEs.

You may want to check that this is actually possible.

There are plenty of people who were doctors back in India or the Philippines who drive taxis in the US. People in those countries send their children to universities in the US specifically for the reason that having an American medical degree opens up a lot more doors.
posted by Sara C. at 12:06 PM on November 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

From what I understand Caribbean-degreed doctors do not generally go on to be highly paid US cardiologists or anesthesiologists.
posted by vegartanipla at 12:14 PM on November 8, 2013

Sara C. is incorrect that "you are most likely looking at going to school in the Caribbean." For one thing, since you haven't even done your bachelors or pre-med courses yet, we don't know if you'll have top grades or not. Another is that many med schools give preference during admission to non-traditional students (read: not 22 year olds), especially those who have worked in healthcare already. Being in your 40s will be pushing it in a big way, but some schools are into non-trads in a big way and your experience as a paramedic will work hugely in your favor.

That said, the calculus of this decision simply doesn't work. You won't have enough time to pay down your debt. Surgery and cardiology require more training years than other specialities (surgery is a longer residency, while cardiology requires a residency in internal medicine plus a fellowship in cards) so you'll be pushing your actual earning years back even further. If you wanted to do this for the love of medicine the truth is that you absolutely can and there are programs out there specifically designed to support non-trads like you. But since you've admitted that your motivation is money, sorry, the ship has sailed. Medicine can be lucrative but you have to mortgage your youth first.
posted by telegraph at 12:14 PM on November 8, 2013

I second the idea of becoming a CRNA - shorter schooling, less debt solid income from the get-go. Given your parameters this seems the better option.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 12:18 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Go to a medical school in the developing world (Philippines, India,etc.). For such schools, no BA is required - you can go straight from high school. At 39, you will not be out of place there.

At least for India, I have a lot of family in India and many of them are doctors - it was very competitive for them to get into medical school in India and they had to declare that intent at a very young age, especially compared to American students. So that doesn't seem right...

Also my mother is a doctor trained in India and had to do her residency over and choose a new specialty when she came to the US (in Emergency medicine, not taxi driving thankfully) despite having her own practice in India, but that was the 70s/early 80s so maybe that's changed - but that's DEFINITELY not a place you'd want to be in, I don't think.
posted by sweetkid at 12:30 PM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Any injury that prevents you from working as a paramedic will likely also prevent you from practicing as an RN at the bedside (which is where the money is). It's hard, physical work; emergently repositioning a 350-pound post-op patient so they don't aspirate their vomit when they're still numb from the waist down from their spinal is no joke, as I'm sure you know. And you'll end up doing it alone pretty frequently no matter what they tell you about teamwork and occupational safety in hospital orientation.

RNs who work anywhere but at the bedside in acute care hospitals in big cities don't make a ton of money, so if money's your aim, nursing probably isn't a good plan.
posted by jesourie at 12:35 PM on November 8, 2013

I am currently 39 years old, and am looking seriously at becoming a physician, probably in anesthesiology or surgery of some type (also possibly cardiology). I do not currently have an undergraduate degree, though I have 2-3 years worth of college credits.

My college was practically a med school feeder school, so I have maybe 10 college buddies who are either in med school now or in residency.

I'm sorry, but you have virtually no chance of becoming a physician, and definitely no chance of becoming a surgeon, at this point.

Med school itself is incredibly competitive, so you need to make sure to finish your BS in a strong hard science field from a prestigious school to even have a shot of getting into med school directly after. My college is very highly ranked and a lot of the biomedical engineering students I went to school with still had to take a year off in order to get more research under their belts, in many cases, get a master's degree (usually in something public health/hard science-related), and/or study for the MCATs in order to be competitive. Even then, it was sometimes a matter of coming off the wait list to get into med school. So a realistic timeline is: apply to a top university program and get in (since you'd be applying Fall '14, you'd probably start studying Fall '15), graduate with a BS (probably 2-3 years later, so say Spring '17 or '18). Work in a one-year master's program/as a researcher, during which you apply to med schools (so Spring '18 or '19). Graduate from the master's program/take a job while you wait for med school to start (so around '20). Study in med school for the next four years (so around 2024). The good news is that now you're done with your formal schooling.

But the next step, getting into a residency, is also very competitive. There are students every year who aren't matched to the places where they want to go, and they have to basically sit out and hope for better the next go around. Hopefully, you do get matched, and then you have another three years in residency (at that point it would be around 2027). My friends are almost all in their residencies now -- they're in their late twenties, and they've been actively working toward becoming doctors since they were teenagers. In residency, they're also earning +/- 45K/yr and working *all the time.* That's the stereotypical "sleep deprived" period. After residency, I get a little fuzzy, because my friends aren't taking the next steps yet, but from what I understand, at that point, you're a practicing doctor. If your residency is in internal medicine, say, you can then work as a GP. I know quite a few people who are nearing or have just passed that point, and they've burnt out. They may take hospital administrator-type jobs or jobs in public health (ie, for the government). Regardless, they're earning a lot of money in absolute terms but their yearly salary is probably less than the amount of their debt load (it's not unusual for them to make somewhere between $150-250K, but they've got debt loads of $250+, sometimes $350+ like Admiral Haddock said). They're high earners, but they aren't particularly financially comfortable, and until they've made a significant dent in their debt loads through years of payments, they just aren't going to be financially comfortable (in terms of being able to buy a house, etc).

However, almost definitely, if you are planning to become a specialist, you're going to have to then try to get a fellowship instead of starting to earn a large salary right out of residency. Those fellowships are 3+ years (also poorly paid, especially relative to your debt, which you've probably not been paying down as a resident). For a competitive, high-status, "cool" specialty like becoming a cardiac surgeon your fellowship might be much longer than three years. So best case at that point, you can finally start working as a surgeon -- that's in about 2030-2035. Yes, you can make money as a surgeon, but if your primary goal in becoming a doctor is financial, you're going to have such a short period of work (10 years?) you're not going to come out ahead.

And the truth is, your age is going to work against you in terms of admissions, matching, etc, every step of the way. These schools and hospitals and specialists just aren't going to want to invest their time and energy in you when you will have virtually no chance of recouping that investment by becoming a "player" and getting them some extra prestige or enhancing their rep/network, or even by literally paying them back in donations, because you will have virtually no time to work your way up the physician career ladder (or even to work as a physician).

So I think it's de facto impossible for you to go to med school, etc, but I also think that's probably a good thing, because going that route isn't likely to get you what you want (ie, money), anyway.
posted by rue72 at 1:02 PM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also my mother is a doctor trained in India and had to do her residency over and choose a new specialty when she came to the US (in Emergency medicine, not taxi driving thankfully) despite having her own practice in India, but that was the 70s/early 80s so maybe that's changed - but that's DEFINITELY not a place you'd want to be in, I don't think.

I have a friend whose mother had that exact same problem coming from Russia, so I don't think that has changed (though I'm not 100% sure).

Her mother has her own practice now and is doing great, but even coming over as a physician there were a lot of years of financial hardship before being able to practice in the US. Ironically, I guess the OP would have it easier because s/he could work as a paramedic during that time, but that defeats the purpose of the OP going to med school anywhere, I would think.
posted by rue72 at 1:07 PM on November 8, 2013

Americans going to medical school in developing countries like the Philippines (and other Asian countries) is not a strange, uncharted concept riddled with Taxi cab career failures. It's a well established avenue for many Americans and non Americans.

Many of these are private medical colleges, which were a rarity in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Success in med school is a pre-req for success once back in the U.S. Hard work can never be replaced - that makes you successful in Med schools here or abroad.

Why negate possible options for the OP — let him research and evaluate the option without demoralizing .
posted by Kruger5 at 1:13 PM on November 8, 2013

OP asked what the chances were of becoming a successful physician. The answer is "not good" and it would be only slightly better if age was not a factor.

OP, would you be interested in other career paths in medicine? Many suggested nursing but I can think of other paths. Are they littered with high salaries? Likely not, but you will incur less debt and be able to parlay your previous experience into something higher than, well, the bottom.
posted by sm1tten at 1:36 PM on November 8, 2013

Americans going to medical school in developing countries like the Philippines (and other Asian countries) is not a strange, uncharted concept riddled with Taxi cab career failures. It's a well established avenue for many Americans and non Americans.

You're thinking of things like people going to med school in the Caribbean.

This is a TOTALLY different thing from throwing yourself into the local applicant pool for a school in a large developing country like India.

The schools most American students attend outside the US are private institutions geared toward the American system. The whole purpose of them is to handle the overflow of American students with American undergrad degrees, because the US needs more doctors than its medical schools can churn out.

My understanding is that these schools are actually more expensive to attend than a traditional American med school.

Also, yes, of course, you 100% DEFINITELY need a bachelor's degree to attend.

It's actually not that hard to have a perfectly ordinary MD career after attending a school outside the US, though usually the really prestigious specialties are less of an option. Primary care? Sure. Dermatology? Could happen. Cardiology? Probably not unless you have connections you're not mentioning here.
posted by Sara C. at 1:37 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

There were two people in my medical school class of a little over 100 who were in their early 40s when they started, so it's not unheard of. They are practicing happily now.

That said, the debt/deferred income issue is a big one. Many medical schools give more financial aid to people over 30 and if you go in-state, it's still possible to graduate with a reasonable debt load. It is basically impossible to hold down a job while in med school unless you're doing something with very flexible hours, though, so you are certainly looking at 4 years of essentially no income and substantial debt.

Residency is another issue, as others have mentioned. Surgery is 5-7 years of residency; anesthesia is 4 years (often plus 1-2 years of fellowship); cardiology is 3 years of residency plus 3-5 years of fellowship, depending on how specialized you want to be. You don't mention what your career-ending injury was, but a LOT of that time is spent on your feet. I wore a pedometer on a day when I was on call during residency and walked close to 5 miles without ever leaving the hospital. The hours are a little better now than they were when I was a resident but a work week limited to 80 hours with no more than 24 hours of active duty at a time isn't exactly a cushy life. Salaries are usually 35-60k during that period.

You may want to look seriously at physician extender programs like PA school, CRNA programs, etc. Those folks do make six-figure salaries in many cases (although 100-120K, not 250-300K) and they have very regular hours. PAs and NPs often see some very complicated patients along with specialists. The admissions requirements are not dissimilar so you could start college on a pre-med track and do some informational interviewing along the way. is a good resource and I know there are also forums for offshore medical programs if that's what you're thinking of.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 1:42 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

One of the biggest reasons for wanting to become a physician is the money, and this desire has played a role in which specialties I have chosen (along with interest).

Dude. Penury and massive debt are what you're going to find should you head down this road, and the specialties you've mentioned are immensely competitive to get into and require 4 (anesthesia) or 6 (cardiology) years of training beyond med school. It's absolutely possible to go to med school as an older person -- there was a patrician-looking white-haired guy in his 50s in my med school class, and he was a great med student -- but it's not something you should do if you're looking for something that's simply well-compensated. There are so many other fields requiring so much less debt, heartache and hoop-jumping to enter that you could choose instead if money is a primary motivation for you.
posted by killdevil at 1:53 PM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

I formerly worked in medical research at one of the nation's leading cardiology institutions. One of my coworkers was a woman doing her cardiology fellowship who had graduated from college with an engineering degree, worked in industry for a few years designing helicopters, and then had an epiphany that she would like to be a medical doctor. If I remember correctly, she entered medical school somewhere in her 30s, then went on to do her internship, residency, and cardiology fellowship.

So, can it be done? Yes, I assure you, it can be done. Should you do it? No, you probably shouldn't do it, particularly given your comment about financial desire. That's been addressed upthread, and I agree with others that this does not make financial sense. Also, I'd like to add that my coworker was one of the smartest and most driven people I've ever known. I don't know you and so I certainly won't presume to judge your ability to do this, but I'd just like to say that individuals who can pull this off are very, very rare.
posted by wondercow at 2:58 PM on November 8, 2013

I am not a doctor and have no direct knowledge of this. But my understanding is that the loans required for medical schedule are so substantial that it does take some time to start being able to enjoy the high salary. If money is what you're after, there has to be better options. If you don't have your BA yet, there is still time to switch paths. Honestly, you could make a fine living going to vocational school and learning trades. Anything else will probably involve working your way up. I am tempted to say if money is what you want, get a BA in finance and try to get a job at a hedge fund. But I also suspect those types of firms prefer to hire young 20-somethings who just graduated college. You're going to need to do some research on your own. I think the doctor route is not a researched one.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:28 PM on November 8, 2013

I think if you wanted to become a doctor primarily for the love of medicine then the sacrifices you would have to make would be worth it. Because that is not your primary motivation I don't see this being worth it. Looking inti becoming a physician's assistant as was mentioned might be a. better idea. Personally I'd say pick your career primarily based on something you love and something you are highly skilled in. I think it's best not to have money be such a determining factor because it's common for folks to have good-paying, stable careers that they really don't like much at all. Look at the big picture of what will make you happy and provide for your needs.
posted by wildflower at 4:29 PM on November 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

The plan of going into nursing is not as good as it was five years ago. Five years ago, the tales of easy and lucrative employment drove people to nursing BAs in droves, and the market is a bit saturated.

Physician's assistant might work on your timeline, but that's a Bachelors plus some postbacc training.

I know a guy who was an engineer for 30 years and retired wealthy. He's getting his PhD in neuroscience/bioengineering now... kind of because he can. When you can finance yourself and are doing it as a hobby, that's really the only situation when you'd want PhD or MD after 35 or so. Do it to spend money, not make it.
posted by supercres at 8:01 PM on November 8, 2013

The one thing I don't see people mentioning here is Pharmacy school. I have heard that today with the huge debt that doctors end up taking on, many pharmacists are actually out-earning many physicians for the majority of their careers.
posted by seasparrow at 9:26 PM on November 8, 2013

I think there are a number of issues:

1. Cost - this is not going to be cheap. You will be hugely in debt, and will have nowhere near as long to pay off this debt as younger colleagues.

2. Time for training

a) if you go to medschool now, you will qualify in your mid-40s.
b) if you want to be a specialist you need to add 10+ years onto that, with additional out of hours study time - most older med students end up being family physicians. Unless you are hugely motivated and dedicated (and certainly not just by money) you are unlikely to make it as a surgeon.

3. Time for leisure - do you have family / wife / children - it is doable but the early years of practising medicine require many, many hours of very hard work. Your family / social life will take a major hit at this time.

4. Academic challenge - without a Bachelor's degree and with so long out of academic life medschool is going to be a challenge - you need to be realistic about the possibility that you may not pass exams and you will need pre-med catch up courses to get into medschool in the first place.

I know and teach a lot of older medical students, you are certainly at the older end of the range. Interviewing committees do have interest in older candidates who, as you say, are often "more well-rounded, more stable and have more life experience". However the key thing is that gets them through the interviews is that they are also usually highly motivated and dedicated, and are often giving up highly paid jobs to go into medicine. The older you are the more convincing you will need to be at interview.

You might have just put yourself across badly in your post, but your motivation seems poor, you need to explore the cost / time implications more and your expectations of your future career seem unrealistic.
posted by inbetweener at 10:02 PM on November 8, 2013

If it is money that you want, get an MBA. Seriously, that would help. The only reason you should think of medical school and not worry about naysayers is if you want it badly enough and it was your dream profession.
posted by ladoo at 10:16 PM on November 8, 2013

This is not my area of expertise but you may be able to find a school that's good with non-traditional students. And state schools aren't cheap but if you could get into one of those, that'd be more affordable. There are some schools where you can get in for your bachelor's and, if you do well as an undergrad and on the MCAT, you can go right into their med school. Expect four years of med school and at least four years of residency.

I would be more concerned about how willing you are to uproot your life. Are you willing to go to any med school? To do your residency at any hospital?

Also, I'm concerned that you're underestimating how hard you have to work as a med student and a resident. Your life is not your own. Time off is not on your schedule.

My sister is a pulmonary critical care fellow. She finished her residency this summer. This Christmas and Thanksgiving will be the first she has had off in six years. And, probably most relevant to your concerns, she makes less than I do as a nonprofit communications professional.

I agree with others who said, if it had always been your dream to be a doctor, I'd support that. But as a money makibg venture, I think you can do better.
posted by kat518 at 12:45 PM on November 9, 2013

Health care organizations are hiring IT folks like crazy right now. Having IT skills and a health care background is highly prized. The pay is good (not surgeon-level good, but upper 5 figures). No extra debt needed, and you can start making money right now, not in 8-10 years.
posted by jeoc at 2:23 PM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I appreciate everyone's comments. The collective opinion here on MeFi is what I needed, and what I received. Thank you all for taking the time to chime in and the dose of reality.

I have decided to not pursue the physician track. I may look into the CRNA or PA track if I continue down this path.
posted by derward at 3:04 PM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Don't go to pharmacy school. It's the same as the nursing glut (caused by the 2008 recession, so everyone stopped hiring). It's true that current pharmacists make a good salary, but the past few years, pharmacy school grads aren't finding any jobs and are living at home with their parents.
posted by Pocahontas at 5:12 PM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

You aren't going be viewed as favorably as career-changers. Medical schools are inundated with highly accomplished college seniors and recent grads; they don't admit people who didn't get it together until their late 30s. If you think about it, you won't finish your BA/BS degree until you're at least 42 or 43, your MD until you're around 46 or 47, your internship until 47 or 48, and your residency until 50 or 51. Frankly, you've missed the bus for both MD and DO programs. Even if you think your "life experience" will help you, you'd still need to do research, get good LORs, and score well on your MCAT.

If I were you, I'd go for nursing or something less competitive, like optometry.
posted by lotusmish at 3:25 PM on November 11, 2013

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