Does Aging Out Exist in Medical School Admissions

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Session 175

Our poster today is asking about aging out. Is there such a thing as being too old to go to medical school? Let’s find out!

If you haven’t yet, please register for an account over at the Nontrad Premed Forum, where our questions on this podcast are taken from. Also, be sure to check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media to help you on this path towards becoming a physician.

[01:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

I am an older premed that because of my age (mid 50s), family and friends (and even I) are worried that I will “age out” of being accepted to medical school. I also worry that being older will limit my choices for a medical residency. In order to rush my application, I have been taking a heavier post-bacc course load but taking too many classes at once, volunteering, and working has made my GPA suffer. While most of my post-bacc grades have been A’s, I got some B’s. My original plan was to finsih my post-bacc next Fall, take the MCAT then, and apply for schools in June 2020. But because of these B grades and some other issues, I would like to delay my application by two years, and do the following:

  1. Take a break from post-bacc after this quarter ends in March.
  2. Cut back on my volunteering; I already have lots of health care experience (see below).
  3. Work full-time again until Fall to pare down some post-bacc-related debt (my program is expensive and there is no financial aid)
  4. Finish my post-bacc by retaking those pre-requisite courses in which I got B’s (I want to get A’s in all the AAMC pre-requisites; yes, I know that all grades are reported and averaged).
  5. Finish the AAMC-required courses and then take more upper division science classes to further improve my GPA.
  6. Finish studying for and take the MCAT. Maybe I can do this by Fall, so if I have to re-take the MCAT again, I can do so in the Spring 2020.
  7. If I do well on the MCAT but still have a borderline GPA, apply for an SMP at a university with a medical school. This will allow me to take classes alongside medical students to show to that I can do well in medical-school classes.

I expect this plan to take 3 more years, which means that I will be in my late 50’s when I apply to medical school. Can I still get in at that age?

Already, in presenting my case to medical schools and premed advisors at premed conferences, I have gotten mixed advice. Some premed advisors have told me that being over 50 already made me too old and to not bother applying, especially because my academic record is very convoluted with some marginal grades and some W’s. One medical school told me to not to apply to them. But others, including some medical students, did not see any issue with me being older but I was in my early 50’s at that time. Furthermore, health care is not new to me. I already have significant health care experience working in health care and volunteering, including nearly 3 decades of continual health care volunteer work with the medically underserved.

Can anyone offer advice on this plan and whether delaying my application is risky or not worth it in terms of making myself even older when I apply versus having a higher more competitive GPA?”

[04:06] Pausing Your Postbac

It’s pretty hard to answer this question considering there’s not enough information given here in terms of the trend in Science and cumulative GPA. But just answering this based on the information given, pausing your postbac is just a bit severe. To start thinking about an SMP because you have B’s is severe.

The problem with many students is they assume what the medical school admissions committee is already thinking and that you need to do this and that. Instead, just look at the application from a perspective of just doing well. If you’ve got good grades on your postbac, then there’s no use doing an SMP. You’ve already shown that you can handle undergrad courses. It could have sucked sure, but that was 30+ years ago. But you’re a different person now. And you want to go to medical school. You have this goal in mind and this is what you want.

[06:31] W’s Don’t Matter, Your Story Does

As you’re going through the process, the goal is not to think about what your final GPA is. But the goal is to look at that trend. Really understand the story that the trend will tell medical schools. The goal is to consistently show medical schools that your grades are good. W’s don’t matter. They don’t mean anything on your transcript. Instead, tell the story behind that W. As long as your W’s don’t show any sort of consistent pattern of you avoiding classes, there’s nothing to worry about.

'Your trend is all that matters.'Click To Tweet

[08:05] Are You Too Old?

Of course, there will be medical schools that might think you’re too old. But there are also schools out there that will look at your application regardless of your age. To delay your application even more, putting yourself through all this classwork and experiences at this point is not worth it. Keep pushing forward. If you have some other issues though that warrants you to delay your application, then go ahead. But from an academic standpoint, the B’s aren’t going to hurt you. As long as you have a majority of A’s, that’s great. But without us knowing the overall picture here of what the overall GPA looks like, it’s pretty hard to answer this poster’s question.

Again, there’s no need to worry about the SMP. There’s no need to worry about medical schools rejecting you. Some will and you have to understand. But there are also other medical schools that will accept you.

'Keep pushing forward if this is what you want. If you need to take a break because you have issues going on, take a break.'Click To Tweet


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