Interview with Non-Traditional Pre Med Russell

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Session 06

Session 6

In today’s episode, Ryan talks with Russell, a nontraditional premedical student. He is a 35-year old music teacher with a wife and 3 children. Having decided to pursue a career in medicine late in life, where he got 4-5 interviews, getting 2 acceptances, and going to Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Russell shares an amazing story of his personal struggles he and his family had on his path to medical school as well as his experiences in doing a DIY postbac program, taking the MCAT, going through the interviews, and more!

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Russell:

Where he is on his path to becoming a physician:

  • Getting 4-5 interviews and getting 2 acceptances
  • Doing postbac and still has to take biochemistry and genetics
  • Relocating in Lansing with Russell and his wife not having a job which scares them
  • Thinking of going to medical school for 10 years now

Reasons for not choosing the medicine path the first time:

  • Being a successful musician in high school and doing very well
  • Having interest in medicine in a subconscious level and no understanding of the shadowing processes
  • Having connections and getting a scholarship for music which was “convenient” for him

The tipping point that made him decide to get into medical school:

  • His wife having health issues including pulmonary embolism and four complex genetic conditions making it difficult for his wife to get pregnant while Russell was getting downsized in 2006 and getting a job at Kent State in Ohio
  • Reading research about his wife’s condition and realizing it’s what he wanted to be doing
  • His wife doing some cycles of IVF and eventually getting pregnant with twins
  • One of the twins having reactive airway disease and asthma and chronic ear infection
  • Russell taking a year off to attend to his son’s medical needs
  • His wife having a miscarriage again and deciding to transfer their frozen embryos (from the successful cycle the twins were born with) and their third child was born
  • His wife telling him that he’s in the wrong field and spending 14 months (2010-2011) gathering information on how to do this until finally attending the classes

Postbac programs:

  • Assembling his own postbac program (some in their local branch campus, others in the main university, and some online)
  • Not finding out about post bac programs until going to the 2012 OldPreMeds Conference in Orlando
  • Taking 65 credits of postbac while working full-time and having an evening job and getting a 4.0 GPA

His thought process in choosing a DO school over an MD school:

  • His sister-in-law as a DO
  • His parents taking him to DO’s for treatment as he was growing up
  • Interest in the holistic approach to medicine

Taking the MCAT:

  • Not taking any MCAT prep courses
  • Taking only two practice tests on AMCAS
  • Taking MCAT in the middle of organic chem and physics classes
  • Having an MCAT score of 28

MD vs. DO schools on the application process:

  • DO schools being more open to nontraditional students
  • Russell applied to 9 MD schools and 10 DO schools

Hard questions he faced during the medical school interview process:

  • Explaining his MCAT score
  • Why as a nontraditional student he wanted to go to medical school

Some pieces of advice for premed students:

Don’t get worked up about things especially if you can’t change the situation. Let go of things and move on.

Links and Other Resources:

AMCAS – M.D. Application Service

AACOMAS – D.O. Application Service


Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine – Website Dedicated to Non-Traditional Pre Medical and Medical Students

Cobra Insurance

Kent State


Pulmonary Embolism

Pernicious Anemia

Blighted Ovum


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