Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A: Am I Too Old for Medical School?

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Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A: Am I Too Old for Medical School?

Session 99

You’re NOT too old to go to medical school – and today, I’m explaining why. I’m also addressing HOW to tell your story on your application.

Our episodes are recorded live on Facebook at 3pm ET on most weekdays. Like the page to be notified.

For more help on your medical school application, check out The Premed Years Podcast. And if you’re a nontrad student, check out The OldPreMeds Podcast.

[00:25] Question of the Day

“I have a two-fold question. The first is, is it too late to go back? And the second is, if it’s not, how do I talk about a rocky undergraduate career without coming off like I’m feeling sorry for myself? Because I have a lot of different marginalized identities that affected me the first time around going to undergraduate?”

[00:52] Factoring In Age and Money

The first question is easy to answer.  You can always go back to medical school even if you’re at 40. Obviously, the older you get, the time calculation is where a lot of people bring in the money calculation.

For instance, if you go to medical school, now you’re going to have this much debt. And you’re only going to have an X number of years working in your prime to pay back loans. So is it worth it? And it’s definitely worth it if that’s what you want to do.

“Money should never be a factor based on age.”Click To Tweet

[02:22] How Do You Tell Your Story?

First off, check out The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement.

'Tell your story as to who you are, where you've come from, why you are here.'Click To Tweet

Our student today is a nontrad. He went back to school at 24 years old, with kids, and had been married and divorced. He never went to high school. He actually dropped out in 9th grade and had a kid at 15 years old. When he tried to go back, all the community colleges in his area said it wasn’t going to happen and they told him to try to be a nurse. He did try it but it didn’t work.

He is also a transgender. He was assigned female at birth, but he had lived every day of his life as a man. And that happened during his undergraduate years so it also hurt his college career. He had a lot of stops and starts. Then he ultimately graduated with a bachelor’s in public health and started LGBTQ advocacy. And that’s what he has been doing now for the past six or seven years.

Then he got his master’s degree, but he has still been feeling like something’s missing. He felt his calling was to be a doctor. 

His kids are all teenagers now. His oldest is going to start college next year. And so he feels ready but he just doesn’t know how to talk about it.

[04:39] Which Part of Your Story Should You Include?

If being a transgender is a large part of your story about why you want to become a doctor then you’d have to include that in your personal statement and it goes into your application.

'We need a lot of physicians to advocate for the LGBT community and the LGBT patients.'Click To Tweet

So if that is part of your story as to why you’re doing this, then tell that story. If it’s not really part of your story, but it’s just part of the identity struggles, the bullying or other aspects, or being marginalized as a student. If you want to tell that story just to explain poor grades and poor performance, then maybe there’s a discussion of how much should you include.

At the end of the day, the question is always, whether what you’re telling them is going to be a red flag or not for you to complete medical school in a given amount of time.

Telling the story of being a transman and the early struggles in undergrad – none of that really is a red flag to me. That’s just who you are. And that’s part of your journey. Identifying as part of the LGBT community is not like you’re not going to finish medical school. 

Obviously, you need to have the story of academic success because that’s ultimately the question. Are you going to be academically successful in medical school? 

Now, maybe your past grades, don’t prove it. Hopefully, we have some upward trend in your GPA in your grades to prove that you can handle medical school, whether that’s the later part of your undergraduate or your master’s program. Be able to present anything that shows an upward trend.

Our student has got his master’s in public policy. That’s not going to help. But he has just started doing a two-year postbac program.

[09:47] Your Goal Moving Forward

Obviously, the story is going to be very unique compared to a lot of students. I know lots of trans men and women who are applying to medical school who are in medical school.

That being said, we need more advocates for the LGBT population. And a lot of medical schools will give you some leeway, and some flexibility with where you’ve come from GPA-wise. Because they know the journey you’ve been on both as a parent, as an advocate, and as a member of the LGBT community.

They’re going to want you in the class because you bring so much experience, knowledge, and wisdom to your classmates and your future patients. 

So your goal from this point forward should be straight As. Don’t fall too short. Because at this point, your only mission is to prove that you can handle the academic rigors of medical school. That’s the only concern that you should have at this point.


Meded Media

The OldPreMeds Podcast

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement

The Premed Years Podcast

MSHQ Facebook Hangout Group