35 years old and up…here’s a question for you…

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    Hi all,

    I have a question for all the mature gals out there interested in, or in the practice of medicine who are 35 and up.

    How do you feel that you have changed as a person in the last decade of your life? Are the desires you had at 25 the same desires you have now? Have those interests and desires grown stronger over the past decade or changed altogether?

    I was at a party last night and met a young internist (mid-30’s) out of residency 2 years. I shared with him my motivation in medicine (third world mission work) and he told me I was being too “idealistic”. He said that he too wanted that once. He told me that after medical school, you are in so much debt (he is -150k) that you are too tied down to go anywhere. AND he said that at my age (26) by the time I am finished I’ll be in a phase in my life where those things no longer seem realistic, and I’ll want stability finacially, nicer things ect…(which is true, by then I’d like financial security. I don’t want a BMW and lots of expensive things…but a house would be nice) It was a little discouraging to hear that.

    Thought I’d get on here and hear some other opinons; if anyone feels inspired to share. What is life like mid-thirties? Anyone who “used to” want to do medical missions but since burnt out on the idea, or found it impossible due to debt, or other circumstances?



    Oh….what was the saying? Opinions are like…..???? Anyway, I’m 36 and in my 2nd year of medical school. Like most people, sure I’ve changed in many ways over a decade. But I don’t think my ideals have changed as much as they’ve been shaped by experience. I believe that integrity grows through experience too, and I hope that I’ve grown and will continue to grow along those lines. Also with a decade of experience, insight improves. I believe that if I had a calling to mission work when I was 25, I’d probably still have it today, but that’s just me. My core values have not changed a whole lot in my adult life.

    Debt is certainly an issue, but there are ways of getting around debt too….like contracting to work in high need areas! I would imagine that if it is your desire to do mission work, such a contract would probably be available to assist you. I wouldn’t let one numbskull deter you from doing such work. If you have a desire to fill such a need in this world, then you can certainly find a way if one is not readily apparent.



    I think that any call to mission work I may have had when I was in my early twenties has been eliminated from the plan by the birth of my children. Let’s face it, living in the third world as a young single person is one thing, but raising children there would be quite another. Although I have a friend who is doing just that (in rural China) and I wish I were more adventurous, I now find that the safety and well-being of my kids has overtaken those desires to do that type of thing.

    So, although I applaud everyone who is willing to live that lifestyle, I just wanted to point out that you MAY (or may not :rolleyes: ) feel differently after you have young children. Just something to keep in mind… ie. you might want to do that right away after graduating, and then consider whether you are comfortable enough in that environment to stay there once you decide to have kids.



    You are so fortunate to be starting young, you will have plenty of time to follow your idealistic tendencies. I think many of us here spent much of our younger years without any ideals, plodding through each day, and only realizing in our thirties that medicine was what we’d wanted all along. To me, pusuing medicine in your thirties is idealistic, adventurous, and brave. So perhaps you will have an even greater resolve and more courage in ten years.

    As for the debt, I hear everyone here so stressed about it, but I look at it pretty philisophically. I equate med-school debt to the price of a second home. Many, many people have vacation homes…I guess I won’t be one of them because I’ll have school loans instead. To me, it’s a fair trade-off. Or, rather than buying the 400K house that I could qualify for, I’ll buy a 250K house instead. I don’t like big pretentious houses anyway, and I really won’t be spending that much time there!

    As to mission work, there is so much you can do and grants and support available to do a lot of it. Check into http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org or http://www.charitablechoices.org. You may find that you have to work for years in the US before you can afford the time and money to work internationally, but in the end anything you do will be valuable…It’s just a matter of you deciding how you’re willing to live–In a mud-floored hut in Nairobi? For one month a year? Or twelve months a year? You CAN be idealistic and realistic at the same time…Just find the balance.

    Good luck to you~




    Thanks for your responses. I like to think that I can do whatever I put my mind to, so long as I am willing to make the sacrifices it will require. It can be discouraging to hear people ahead of you telling you that the debt makes it impossible. I guess this is my main concern.

    Lindsey, you make the point about doing work in high-need areas to pay off loans. I wonder if there are opportunities in American territories like Guam to do contracted work like that. I hear that the US is responsible for the medical care there, and there is a great shortage of physicians willing to move there or similar places. I am also wondering if there might be contracted work for other international locations as well. Anyone know how to go about finding this kind of information???

    Val, you said that I might have to work for years in the US to be able to financially afford leaving. I think your right…but I don’t want to hear that! I just want to go to school, finish residency and get the heck out of here! 🙂 That’s where I think I might be being too idealistic. I actually am looking into Nurse Practitioner programs, because I could finish faster with minimal debt, and still provide rural care in the third world or developing areas semi-independently. NP’s are able to diagnose, prescribe meds, deliver babies, etc…basically provide rural heath care services. Regular nursing does not appeal to me, but I hear that NP’s are not like regular nurses. Anyone have thoughts or info. on that?

    Mimicat, you make the point of having children in developing countries. You are right, it would be very diffucult. I do not intend of having children right now, so that is not a road block for me. I can see how mothering and missions would be hard to coordinate!

    Thanks all! You are an important part in my decision-making process.



    I don’t know your background, but if Christian missions is a possibility you might consider Medsend.org (I think). They pick up the tab on debt repayment in order to send medical missionaries into the field following education and before becoming “locked” into a job.

    desert scholardesert scholar

    Here’s a different take on how my age as affected my mindset. I am now 37. In my 20’s and even early 30’s I was more readily influenced by naysayers and people who thought I should be living life in a specific manner. About the time I turned 30, I began to have the confidence to disagree with those that would limit my life and what I could accomplish to the goals that they believed appropriate. The results: A year so far of undergraduate work taking heavy loads, working and going through family crises and taking tough courses (not remedial) and carrying a 4.0 pt. a full scholarship for next year, and because I dared to initialy believe in myself, I find that I am surrounded by new people that are happy, willing and able to believe in what I can accomplish and who are willing to stick their necks out and help me get there.
    Further results: I know longer feel frustrated like I am not going anywhere, I feel like I will be able to make a difference. Like you my goals are not the BMW and a 400,000 house. A classic convertible, a decent home and lots of travel ie new experiences are the material things I seek and being able to help my children pay back their student loans. I look forward to life where I have the skills and means to help others yet take care of my family.
    The point is age gives the time to figure out what is really important in your life.



    Check out the National Health Service Corps, http://nhsc.bhpr.hrsa.gov/ There you’ll find information on loan repayment and scholarships for those willing to work in underserved areas. It includes programs for nurses and NP’s, not just physicians. Looked like there were opportunities outside the continental US (I noticed Micronesia). Good Luck~



    I’ll add my 2 cents, even though I’m a relatively young 32! 😉
    It is my experience that I am more sure of myself and more adventurous now than I was in my 20’s. I was so afraid of getting in over my head and timid when I was younger. Now I see more of the potential in myself and my talents and it has given me the power to pursue my dreams.

    Yes, I was more “idealistic” in my 20’s, but I would say that I am more able to accomplish important things now. I have the family stability, the long term relationship (marriage), and the experience to put my thoughts into action. Before, I had ideals but no idea how or where to implement them.

    As for having kids (3), yes they make me think twice about what I do (thus the prolonged premed approach), but they also inspire me to reach beyond my comfort zone.

    I say life gets better as you get older! Huzzah!

    By the way, i keep this quote taped to my computer, it applies to motherhood, medicine, missionary work, or whatever else it means to you.

    “Vocation is ‘where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”

    Don’t listen to naysayers, they may be having a bad day! :rolleyes:



    Like other posters, I suffered from a serious case of self-doubt in my 20’s. Now at 36, I’m much more confident and assertive where my career goals are concerned. I also maintain contact with people like me (through this web site and oldpremeds), who want to pursue medicine as a career in their 30’s which goes along way in keeping me motivated. I do have moments of doubt, but not of my ability to achieve my goals but of how I’m going to manage it with a child. I’ve decided that if I have to reduce my courseload in medical school I’ll do that.

    I’ve tried other careers, now its time for me to do what’s in my heart.



    Wow, ladies! Thank you so much for the informative and encouraging responses.

    Theresa, SpiritDoc and DesertScholar, I find it interesting that so many woman I speak with say this same thing about being more ambitious/able/confident in the 30’s than in the 20’s…it is enormously comforting. When I was younger and even more impressionable, barely 20, I had some older women who were married with children tell me that if I didn’t do what I desired to do when I was young, I wouldn’t end up doing it at all. This was profoundly discouraging to me. I guess when you are young you look for mentors, and those women around you that you look up to end up becoming a mentor of sorts, whether they know it or not. I always felt rushed to do something before I turned 30, as if at 30 life ends with marriage and kids! Six years later and a few trips around the world, I feel that my desires are growing stronger, not diminishing. I guess those ladies were wrong. I am beginning to belive that it is about how badly you want it, and not so much about circumstances around you. I have become more determined to live life as I have imagined.

    That quote Theresa gave about your deep gladness meeting the world’s need is inspiring. Interestingly, I read that quote recently out of a book called “Finding Your mission in Life”…(highly recommended by the way).

    Cynthia, thanks for that link, I am looking into Medsend possibilities. I am a Christian, but I am not affiliated with one of the sister organizations. I assume that it would not be too diffucult to become a part of one. It looks like there are some very cool opportunities available through them, I will keep that in mind.
    Val, I wanted to thank you for that link to. I am going to research that today. I am getting so excited finding all these opportunities!!! It makes it seem more possible to become a doctor and go, rather than having to wait to pay off loans.

    This forum is like some kind of support group, 😀 I am so thankful for everyone’s comments!



    hey reading the other posters and i am happy to say that i gained the confidence to tell my parents that i was pursuing medicine (Im 26 too). Hither to i had been persuaded by my father, who thinks that this is not the course of life i should be leading – that teaching is just fine for me. But I was just like – i value your opinion dad, but i am going to do this and i would like to have your support in doing it, because im going to do it with or with out your support, but I would like to have your support. He, as Dad’s do, looked at me and said well I still think you’re barking up the wrong tree, but if it’s really what you want to do. So I start in November which is cool. Im one step closer to the reality.

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