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Information for people contemplating
a career in emergency medicine and
other medical specialties

By Kevin Pezzi, MD


Too old to apply to medical school?

Q: Hi Dr. Kevin,

I read your articles and I am kind of impressed and I think you are a true human being. As a child I always wanted to get into medicine but never could. I am a software engineer now. Now I am 45 and have a strong desire to become an ER doc. Is it too late? If not what is the fastest way to achieve my goal, can you help please?


Answer by , MD: Hi Ravi,

I apologize for the delay in responding to your question, but I've been very busy lately writing a new book to help people understand our current economic crisis and what we can do about it. (Incidentally, that book, From Bailout to Bliss, is free for personal use.)

Now to answer your question: The good news is that you aren't necessarily too old to become a doctor. In recent years, medical schools have become less concerned with the age of their applicants. In fact, some medical schools purposely choose some older applicants because such people can increase the diversity of their classes.

To expedite the attainment of your goal, the first thing you should do is to take the classes you need to meet the requirements of the medical schools that you'll later apply to. Since you're a software engineer, you likely have already taken some of the classes you need.

As the field of medicine becomes increasingly computerized, there is a greater need for software engineers to enter medicine. As a programmer, you're bound to think of ways to improve medical software because you can look at it from the perspective of both a doctor and a computer programmer. Therefore, when you apply to medical school, I would specifically mention this because you have something extra to offer that can compensate for your age.

Incidentally, I've acquired a greater respect for computer programmers after I began doing that. It can be a great mental workout!

Trivia: According to a television biography, Linda Blair (star of The Exorcist and author of Going Vegan!) wanted to become a veterinarian, but at age 23 concluded she was too old to begin that long and arduous process. She is intelligent and loves animals, so it is a shame she didn't pursue her dream, but she does great work for PETA and the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation that “is devoted to the loving care and rescue of animals.” I created a website to help shelter wild animals (unfortunately I later deleted it, having just 24 hours in a day and not enough time to do 10% of what I want to do), but would like to do much more for animals in the future.

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