In today’s episode, Ryan talks with Richard Levy, the Executive Director of the National Society for Nontraditional Premedical and Medical Students and the publisher of the OldPreMeds.org, which is the main website for the society.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, OldPreMeds.org is the #1 resource for nontraditional students who seek premedical and medical information. Through the years, it has now grown into the largest organization solely dedicated to providing accurate, verifiable information to nontraditional premedical students. Additionally, the organization also deals with medical students, residents, and now attending physicians.
In any given year, there’s over 20 people in the country who start medical school over the age of 50.
Here are the highlights of the conversation with Rich:
The beginnings of OldPreMeds and its trends:
- Founded in 1997 by a group of nontraditional students who got harassed by younger students in an online MCAT review class forum
- Setting up a separate form for nontraditional students that got filled too quickly that prompted them to set up their own list server
- From 6 people in 1997 to 9,000 people registered on the website over the years
How much they’ve grown:
- Average of 25,000 unique visitors a month
- 750,000 page views
- 30% increase year-to-year
- 1.2 million search hits a month
What is a nontraditional student?
- Recently finished college and have not finished their premedical requirement and decide to go to medicine years later
- Those who have been out of school for 8 years or more and decide to go back to medicine
- Out of school for 10 years+, often medical professionals in capacity who decide they want to do more
The growth of postbac programs across the country:
- Recognizing the rise of nontraditional premeds
- Top 1%, about 400-500, of applicants are above 38 years old
- The oldest person Rich has seen on the website is 55 years old.
The benefits of taking the time off between undergrad and medical school:
- Allows you to live life and see what’s outside of medicine and outside of school
- Gives you a better understanding of patients because you share the same life experiences and struggles with them
- Gives students an idea of the entire length of training thus getting in with your eyes wide open
Types of support OldPreMeds.org offer to residents and attending physicians:
- Family life
- Preparing for residency
- Insurance and tax questions
Factors that keep nontraditional students from applying:
- Having the dream and idea but not knowing what to do with it
- Active discouragement from family, parents, and spouses
- Negative comments from current medical practitioners
Why majority of nontraditional students lean towards DO vs MD schools:
- A lot of support from osteopathic schools actively recruiting students
- Osteopathic schools having lower standards for average matriculating students
- Mechanical reason for application (grade replacement in DO schools)
- Difference in Science GPA calculations
- MD – Biology, Chemistry, Math, Physics
- DO – Any science taken excluding Math
Unique challenges of nontraditional students:
- Less structured academic advising support considering that most students have day jobs
- Lack of informal network (this is where OldPreMeds.org comes in)
- Not knowing the process, where to start, or what and how to take
- Being out of school for so long, they have to learn how to be students again
Check out the 10 Things Every Non-Traditional Premed Should Know
The importance of the MCAT
- The MCAT is your friend
- Assuming the MCAT as equal to an entire semester worth of coursework
- MCAT as the “great equalizer”
Rich’s insights into community college classes for medical school prerequisites:
- Not considered as rigorous as a 4-year school
- But which is better? Community college classes or no classes?
- You have to fit with the logistics of life that you have (travel cost, class cost, etc.)
- Look into what is the best path you can take
- Note that not every medical school accept community college credits
Ways to learn about the specific admissions requirements:
- Look at MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements) and Osteopathic Medical College Information Book
- Research the school’s website
- Call or email the school.
Great advice for nontraditional premed students:
It is possible. Do not feel you’re alone. Do not feel that you cannot do it. Find out what you can and make the decision for yourself if you’re up to the challenges.
Links and Other Resources:
If you need any help with the medical school interview, go to medschoolinterviewbook.com. Sign up and you will receive parts of the book so you can help shape the future of the book. This book will include over 500 questions that may be asked during interview day as well as real-life questions, answers, and feedback from all of the mock interviews Ryan has been doing with students.
Are you a nontraditional student? Go check out oldpremeds.org.
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