If you dream about becoming a doctor, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s too late. Many people give up on their dreams of entering the medical field strictly based on the fact they fear they’re too old. Med school does take eight years to complete, but you can work during that time, gain experience and bring your dream to life whether you’re in your 30s or 40s. The truth is that some people don’t recognize their true calling until they’re well into adulthood, or they lacked the courage to go after what they wanted when they were younger. But now that you’ve realized what you want to do for a living, it’s time to make it a reality. While age is just a number, what matters most is your commitment to the practice and your persistence and determination; these are the factors that will drive you forward and help you become the best physician you can be. Now, on a more practical note, it’s important to walk through the process and understand how your age, prior education and current work will impact your journey to becoming a doctor.
Conflicts with Family and Work
College and medical school are full-time, demanding positions. You can earn an undergraduate degree online while working, but you will need to support yourself on student loans while you’re in med school. It will be difficult, and your residency could require you to move away from your home to work in a hospital across the country. While you are able to request placement locally, you ultimately have to accept what you’re given. You will need to discuss this with your partner and even children prior to enrolling; it’s important that you choose what’s right for you while considering how this decision will affect those closest to you.
If you have a college degree, you might already be qualified to apply to medical schools. However, the type of degree you have, and how much you actually recall from your college years, will impact your likelihood of getting accepted. Applicants must also submit their Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) results; every year, over 85,000 students take this exam. Many of them are in their early 20s and have been studying diligently for years. If it’s been a while since you hit the books, then you’ll want to hire a tutor and become as well-versed as possible in the material. Not only does preparing for the MCAT increase your odds of getting into a good school, but it also ensures you’ll have the preliminary knowledge required to succeed in your classes and residency.
Medicine is one of the most expensive career paths, so you’ll need to start planning how you’ll cover the costs now. You can research medical school loans to figure out how much you qualify for and how much you can expect to owe by the time you obtain your license. The cost of your education is a lifelong investment that will affect your income for a decade or more; you need to not only find the right lender but also search for scholarships and grants to cover your training. The average cost of medical school can run a couple hundred thousand dollars, so if you decide to pursue a specialization, like oncology or pediatrics, then you’ll have to spend more time in school and pay even more. It’s not at all impossible for a student attending a prestigious program to have over half a million dollars in student loan debt by the time they graduate. Don’t let the cost of school turn you away from following your dream, though. With the right planning and research, you can find loans that help you realize your goals and don’t prevent you from succeeding in life after graduation.
You should think ahead now as to what type of work environment you see yourself practicing in as a licensed physician. Do you want to work in the ER or a hospital setting every day? Maybe you are more interested in a quiet, family practice. You might even decide to pursue holistic remedies or alternative medicine and begin your own practice. This will naturally influence the course of your career, so begin thinking now about not just what kind of doctor you want to be but where you want to practice. Consider your ideal patients, too. Your abilities as a physician will shine the most when you’re able to work with a population you’re truly passionate about helping. While doctors do swear to help anyone in need, everyone has their preferences. You need to construct a future and career that brings you the greatest level of fulfillment; only then will you be able to provide the optimal level of care and benefit the most people through your work.