Am I Too Old for Medical School?

July 18, 2014


“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” That saying goes back to at least the 16th century, with the first known in-print reference appearing in Sir Anthony Fitzherbert’s The Boke of Husbandry, 1534. Too bad for Fitzherbert, it’s bunk.

Here at WOLFPACC, we regularly get calls from prospective students, typically in their 30s or 40s, who are interested in studying medicine but concerned that they’re too old. While it’s true that the average age of medical school applicants in the United States is 24, we’ve seen many much older students successfully complete their studies and go on to successful medical careers.

“We have all different ages of students studying with us,” says Monica Iversen, WOLFPACC’s Director of Admissions and Public Relations, noting that their eldest currently enrolled – and thriving – student is a 62-year-old tenured university professor who took a leave of absence to pursue her goal. “This has been her dream after a lifetime of missionary work.”

Other WOLFPACC students who might be considered “non-traditional” students in other settings include physicians from other countries who have been practicing medicine internationally for years. They’ve emigrated to the US to start new lives and careers and are beginning their studies all over again.

There is the impression you need to wrap up your medical school and get your license before age 35, so that you can more easily pay down your debts and have a chance to build your practice,” Iversen says. Factoring into this notion is the fact that most younger medical students are unmarried or have not yet had children, meaning that their family and household burdens typically are lighter than those of older students.

However, Iversen and the rest of the WOLFPACC team say they’ve seen many older students perform as well as or better than their younger classmates. Students credit WOLFPACC’S unique approach to the study of medicine as the secret to their success. Small class sizes allow for an unprecedented level of one-on-one attention from instructors, tutors and faculty. And the immersion-style program which includes student housing helps students better focus on their studies. But the top success factor is the way students are taught to essentially retrain their brains, drawing on basic information they’ve already learned and using physiology-based reasoning to reach a diagnosis. It all falls back on a solid understanding of the five main organ systems, the ways in which they relate to each other and their associated diseases. This approach helps simplify and clarify medicine in a way that even an “old dog” can easily learn new medical tricks, so to speak.

“For some older students, it may take a bit longer to prepare, but they tend to be very driven and focused,” Iversen says. “With age comes wisdom and for those who set their minds to it, they succeed.”

Young or old, don’t let age get in the way of achieving your medical career dreams. Call 904-209-3140 and speak with a WOLFPACC enrollment specialist today.