Are You To Old To Go To Medical School?

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Cliches such as “it’s never too late” are true but tend to have less value the older we get. Life happens – marriage, kids, and responsibilities, though beautiful and fulfilling, can pile up over the years. These responsibilities, some of the most meaningful things in one’s life, can surely be impacted by a late-game decision to go back to medical school.

So, how old is too old?

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) the mean age of students entering medical school is 24 years. The data also show that matriculants over the age of 31 comprise less than 4 percent of new students.

Childhood dreams are great and everyone is encouraged to pursue their dream, but not without caution. Far too often, life-changing decisions are made from emotional launchpads, instead of a good old fashioned “pros vs cons” t-chart.

Here are 6 key questions worth seriously asking yourself before making the plunge:

How much could this actually cost me?

The average medical school graduate owes more than $176,000, equaling a repayment of $328,000, assuming a three-year residency and standard 10-year payoff. Repayment, if extended, could cost upward of $400,000 or more, according to AAMC.

Am I ready to make this type of commitment?

Older students may begin school with families and mortgages, thereby emphasizing the critical importance of planning and organization in order to tend to relationships outside of medical school. Medical school and postgraduate residency is a minimum of seven years, or longer if you plan to pursue specialties or fellowship training.

How realistic is my financial plan?

Unless you have a funding source other than student loans, such as a spouse with a career who will lighten the financial burden so you do not have to borrow living expenses​, you will need to evaluate how much student debt you are willing to take on, and have a plan for repayment.

How much could the school location affect my family?

If you have family constraints, such as needing to be in close proximity to your parents for child care needs, near your spouse’s career, or close by an elderly or sick family member, the location of medical school also becomes extremely important.

How do I know I’m picking the right school for me?

Identifying the right school is key. Carefully examine the medical school’s prospectus weighing the average age of applicants. If it’s higher than the 24 years old, you can conclude that the​ school has some older students according to the AAMC.

How challenging will my work life to school life transition be?

Ensuring that your list includes schools which have a postbaccalaureate program can ease the transition from work life to school life, sharpen science skills and facilitate the immersion into graduate school. Make sure the program meets your needs and has a successful record of placing graduates into medical school.


Career-changers and prospective doctors holding degrees in other fields should consider these factors to better prepare for making a late-game medical school plunge in order to pursue the career that you have dreamed of since childhood.

Joseph Bryant
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