Posted by: oldmedicine | January 13, 2010

The Introductory Treatise of Old Medicine

I don’t’ generally think of myself as old.

Yes, I am almost 30, and yes, I am not the physical specimen that I used to be in college when I worked out every day and was on liquid diet for two days a week and a fast food/cafeteria diet the rest of the time.  I do feel a hard workout for a few more hours (or days) than I used to, and I can’t bench press 225 pounds 15 times like a football player at the NFL combine. I sometimes feel out of breath after climbing the six flights of stairs to my office.  But in general, I feel fairly young.  Unlike people of my mother’s, or even my older sister’s, generation, I know how to use the internet efficiently.  I am not wowed by every new technical innovation, thinking them to be a sign of unbelievable progress or perhaps the apocolyspe.  I have an iPhone for godsakes, but I still remember using a Mac with an operating system that didn’t end in an X.  I have all of my original body parts (with more volume), no titanium joints, and haven’t felt the need for a face lift.  I haven’t devolved into wearing Member’s Only gear or sweater vests or Velcro shoes (they are easier than lace-ups, you have to admit).

My protestations of youth aside, Medicine – my newly chosen career path, which I will begin in earnest this summer after years off from any sort of scholastic regimen, believes me to be an old fart.  So old, in fact, that I am in the 95th percentile of all people entering medical school in the entire nation. Check out this pdf if you need proof.  The mean age (50th percent) of matriculants to medical school has, for a long time, been about 24.  Adding just 5 years to this immediately puts you on the far right edge of the bell curve.  This is, as they (I can’t yet say “us” because I haven’t officially started my medical education yet) like to say “we” (meaning  those of you who might or might not read this blog) are a Under-Represented Minority.

This blog is for that 5% of you, or “us” as I will now refer to my burgoning community(one page view so far, my wife, who is ironically only 26 and still young in the definition of medical education establishment) of old people in medicine, who are approaching medicine after a career, after touring with Phish or Widespread panic, after wasting years going after that masters in whatever(can you even remember now), or just living in the basement and deciding that you want to “help people.”

One of the great things about the United States is that you are free to make ridiculous decisions that really don’t make that much sense. My relevant example – you leave a relatively high paying at an age that not even fifty years ago would have been classified as “middle to late life” and have a glut of banks scurrying (in the middle of a recession) to loan you upwards of $250,000 dollars to attend a professional school that will surely kick your ass for four years, after which you will be broke (as in close-to-the-poverty-line broke)  for 3 to 6 years while you get humiliated on daily basis for how little you know.  After these seven to ten years of sorry existance, that debt that was once a sort of palatable $250,000 will now be upwards of $500,000 after deferments and minimum payments, but you will finally be able to practice on an unlimited medical license.  Unfortunately, it is impossible to say what the practice environment will be like almost ten years from now – MD compensation, if statistics for the past 20 years hold true, will likely be flat or even negative.  And you will be looking at your 40th birthday. You probably won’t be able to afford a very good party.

So, at first glance it seems that we are in the 95th percentile of all medical school matriculants for a reason.  Those younger kids are just smarter than us, or maybe they are just a little bit more sane – the Harold to our Maude.

Let us bring the insanity to one place, and snarkily comment on it.  If you are coming across this site during its painful genesis when I don’t post often and have my facts wrong, then I point you towards the “Non-traditional Students” forum at the Student Doctor Network – a place where speculation is rampant and people are even more loose with the facts than me.

I am planning on commenting and/or posting guides covering the following topics in Old Medicine during its initial phase, which is the build up to entering in the summer or fall:

  • Steps old people need to take to get into medical school, to include classes needed, the MCAT, volunteering, convincing your significant other not to drop your ass, etc.
  • Once old people take all the right classes, best strategies for applying to medical school – to include essays (two words: LIFE EXPERIENCE – the only advantage to being old), timelines, and scheduling interviews around work and family considerations.
  • How old people can compete with not-so-old people in the medical school application/interview whirlwind.
  • Once accepted, how old people can afford medical school
  • What old people can do to prepare themselves for medical school in the months after acceptance.
  • Medical news that relates to old people (not actual old people – that would be the specialty called geriatrics…I think)
  • Wild speculation about all the good that old people may or may not be able to do in medicine.
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