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Tezak

Should I give up my Finance Career to try to get into Med?

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I'm 34, and I've spent the last 8 years working in finance. I'm deeply dissatisfied with my current career path and after scouring potential careers, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Medicine for the last 6 months or so. My wife is an R1 and I've seen all the highs and lows of that process so far, and I just want it so badly. It's pretty risky, and while my current career is lucrative, it is not at all satisfying and doesn't match my personal strengths and weaknesses at all.

I've come here hoping for a neutral assessment of my chances and a reality check if needed. I was happy to be a B student in my undergrad, since I had no intentions of a professional degree, and wow am I ever regretting that now. I quite frankly did not apply myself when I was in my early twenties and didn't need to do much to get B's (B- and C's if I'm being honest). I'm hoping that it's not too late to get myself together and start over. I hope you guys can help me out.

Work/School History

B.Sc in Biology (4 full time years over 5 calendar years)
One year of Biology MSc (left the degree program after becoming disillusioned with pure research) (8 months)
Banking/Finance jobs, rapidly advanced through increasing responsibility jobs (8 years)
Canadian Armed Forces - Reservist, a mix of part-time and full-time work over the years (15 years)

GPA Breakdown (full course load is 5.0 credits, with a  half year course being 0.5 credits)
- Year 1, GPA = 2.77 (5.0 credits)
- Year 2, GPA = 2.91 (4.75 credits) – took a 0.25 credit summer course, GPA drops to 2.87 if this is not considered. This does not meet the course load requirement for some schools
- Year 3, GPA = 2.65 (5.25 credits)
- Year 4, GPA = 1.70 (0.5 credits) – I struggled with personal issues, ended up dropping all but one course in the Fall semester. I took the Winter/Summer off and worked with the military full time for 8 months to get my life in order. It (mostly) worked.
- Year 5, GPA = 3.82 (4.5 credits) – this does not meet course load requirement for some schools. 

- MSc Year 1, GPA = 4.0 - only one graded half-year undergrad course, I don't know if it will count. Other courses were pass/fail. Since I didn't finish the degree I don't know if this will count. 

Overall cGPA = 3.00
cGPA with only full time years used = 3.01

Med Schools

I'm IP for Ontario and U of C (U of A has stricter rules for which I don't qualify). Here are a few schools with their specific wGPAs as best as I can calculate them:

U of C - 3.2 required - 3.14 wGPA obtained (assuming MSc grades don't count)
McMaster - 3.0 required - 3.0 or 2.98 wGPA obtained depending on if MSc course counts
Western - 3.7 required - 2.71 wGPA
Queens - unpublished requirement - 3.19 wGPA
U of O - 3.0 required - 2.71 wGPA


Professional Designations
- Chartered Financial Analyst - proved to myself I could still study for very challenging exams, even while working full time. 

Volunteer experience
- Worked with Junior Achievement and a local Financial Literacy charity multiple times over the past 3 years.
- Sat on the board of, and was president of a military social club.

Research
- 4 months lab tech right after undergrad, 8 months completed of a biology MSc.
- 1 published 3rd author techniques paper.


MCAT 
- Haven't taken it yet

My Plan
If I go ahead with this, I will write the MCAT this summer. I'll need to ace it. I will apply to McMaster only this year. I will attempt to enter an undergrad program for which I would be ok falling back on (easier said than done), to start school in September. It's unfortunately too late to apply to one of my preferred programs (nursing), so I will need to find something else. I will need to get my GPA big time to meet more minimums and be at least a little competitive. After one year of the new undergrad I can invoke the ten-year rule at U of C and be working with only my year 5 GPA (3.82) and whatever new GPA I can earn next year, which should help a lot for that school. I will apply across Ontario as well. 

Thanks everyone for reading and please let me have it...

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Everything you said above is logical and well-researched. I’d say definitely go for it. The second undergrad will really help your gpa and up your chances. A GPA of above 3.8 will make you very competitive. I think U of C and McMaster may be your best options. Make sure your CARS score is high (129 or above).

You definitely have a chance. I personally was in finance before and just got into medical school this year.

You got this! Don’t give up!

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1 hour ago, Butterfly_ said:

Everything you said above is logical and well-researched. I’d say definitely go for it. The second undergrad will really help your gpa and up your chances. A GPA of above 3.8 will make you very competitive. I think U of C and McMaster may be your best options. Make sure your CARS score is high (129 or above).

You definitely have a chance. I personally was in finance before and just got into medical school this year.

You got this! Don’t give up!

Thank you, I really appreciate the encouragement!

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1 hour ago, Butterfly_ said:

Everything you said above is logical and well-researched. I’d say definitely go for it. The second undergrad will really help your gpa and up your chances. A GPA of above 3.8 will make you very competitive. I think U of C and McMaster may be your best options. Make sure your CARS score is high (129 or above).

You definitely have a chance. I personally was in finance before and just got into medical school this year.

You got this! Don’t give up!

How is McMaster his best option?  He just meets the 3.0 cutoff.  The cutoff is well known for being absurdly low compared to what is needed for even an interview.  They take all your grades.  He could do 10 more years of undergrad and get a 4.0 each year and he would still be well below their average entrance GPA.

OP if you want my advice as someone who started practice a year ago, this is a terrible idea.  To put the chances in perspective:  you are in a worse position than a 17 year old who hasn't started undergrad yet, because of your old grades.  Your experience does not help without grades, and that includes your masters.  You are looking at at least 2 years of another undergrad to even have a chance to apply, meaning 3 years total.  For a CHANCE.  Its nice the above poster is optimistic but my honest advice is to drop it.  If you hate your job, look for another job in finance.  Honestly talk to your wife and tell her to be harsh and honest, and I'm almost sure she will echo what I just said.

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I agree with a lot of what you said. Thank for providing a contrasting perspective. However, people with GPAs of below 3.5 have gotten into McMaster before. A high Casper and high Cars score can get OP an interview. After that, the admission decisions give interview a 70% weighting. Every medical school will be difficult to get into for OP, but it’s not impossible. I think U of C’s 10 year rule will give him a solid chance. 

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14 minutes ago, goleafsgochris said:

How is McMaster his best option?  He just meets the 3.0 cutoff.  The cutoff is well known for being absurdly low compared to what is needed for even an interview.  They take all your grades.  He could do 10 more years of undergrad and get a 4.0 each year and he would still be well below their average entrance GPA.

OP if you want my advice as someone who started practice a year ago, this is a terrible idea.  To put the chances in perspective:  you are in a worse position than a 17 year old who hasn't started undergrad yet, because of your old grades.  Your experience does not help without grades, and that includes your masters.  You are looking at at least 2 years of another undergrad to even have a chance to apply, meaning 3 years total.  For a CHANCE.  Its nice the above poster is optimistic but my honest advice is to drop it.  If you hate your job, look for another job in finance.  Honestly talk to your wife and tell her to be harsh and honest, and I'm almost sure she will echo what I just said.

Thank you for this as well, and I do agree with you. The fact is, I will likely be going back to school regardless. Another job in finance is off the table. If it takes 2 years of undergrad then fine. If I never get in, and just end up with another undergrad in a field I might enjoy, then so be it. 

I would also say I think my only real shot is U of C with their 10 year exclusion rule. I would consider McMaster an outside shot. My wife has been honest but supportive, and she's been encouraging me to look into international shools as well (although I don't know if I'm ready for that). 

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I think that with the 10 year exclusion rule, Calgary is a viable option. If you're also willing to take a few years to do undergrad, I believe Western takes your best 2 full time years, and they more or less have a 3.7 cutoff for interview invitations; however, you will probably need to crush the MCAT. If you have 3 good full-time years, Ottawa also becomes an option. Your position reduces the number of viable options IMO, because GPA is often assessed on a competitive basis, but I think if depending on the time you're willing to put in, you can do medicine.

Just a question - I noticed that you mentioned that nursing was one of your preferred programs. If you're willing to put in the time to pursue medicine, but also think that nursing could be a good fit for you, why not apply for that in tandem at the very least? I think that it could be achieved more quickly and with less time and effort invested - an MD is likely a longer-term project. Not trying to dissuade you, but I think it something to consider if you don't have a strong preference between either :)

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47 minutes ago, Tezak said:

Thank you for this as well, and I do agree with you. The fact is, I will likely be going back to school regardless. Another job in finance is off the table. If it takes 2 years of undergrad then fine. If I never get in, and just end up with another undergrad in a field I might enjoy, then so be it. 

I would also say I think my only real shot is U of C with their 10 year exclusion rule. I would consider McMaster an outside shot. My wife has been honest but supportive, and she's been encouraging me to look into international shools as well (although I don't know if I'm ready for that). 

Hey, you said above that one of your preferred undergrad programs is nursing as a back up. Have you considered trying to get into a fast-track nursing program and then doing NP after you work for a couple years? You could still work as a health care provider with a decent scope of practice and there is a wide range of areas you can work in. I realize it’s not medicine but NP or PA is a close as you can get and NP is way easier to get into. You would also still get a 6 figure salary as an NP. Something to consider.

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So, to cut right to the chase, your grades are far too low for any medical school in Canada. There's no point in applying to McMaster at this stage - even if you hit the barest cutoff, you'd likely need a perfect CARS on the MCAT and a perfect CASPer just to get an interview. I'm not familiar enough with Calgary's 10 year rule to comment, so maybe that's an option, but the Ontario schools are longer shots. No point applying to U of T at all, regardless of what your future grades are, and McMaster would be a longshot even with a perfect MCAT and a 4.0 GPA for several years. NOSM's out unless you have solid northern or rural connections.

Queen's is a possibility with their weighted averages, but you'd likely need at least one if not two completed additional undergraduate years before starting an application. Western is as well, though the exact number of years necessary will depend on the specifics of your prior GPA and how your new program is structured - could be as little as 2 years, with an application started in the 2nd, could be as long as 4 years, with an application first in that 4th year. Both would require strong MCATs. Ottawa would be the next choice with their weighted GPA formula, but you'd need exceptional grades for at least 2, probably 3 years.

There's a path to Canadian medical schools for you, but you're almost certainly looking at two years before getting into medical school, very likely to be longer than that. It would be a resounding success, given your position, to be starting your residency in your early 40's. There are many other less favourable outcomes that are quite plausible.

I would stay far away from international schools. Risky path that's getting riskier. You can do everything right and not match, and doing everything right's easier said than done.

Given what you've presented, I can't help but wondering why you're dead-set on medicine as a career? I get wanting to transition out of finance, 100%, and seeing your wife's experience does give you a closer look at medicine than most get, but like any career, it's got its flaws too. Plenty of career dissatisfaction on this side of medical training too. It seems like there would be many other jobs that would make better use of your experience and wouldn't come with the significant barriers to entry that medicine does (in general or for your specific situation). Even assuming everything works out in your favour in terms of getting into medicine, it sounds like this isn't the first time you've looked to change careers due to dissatisfaction with your current path. With its upfront costs, long training times, and difficulty transitioning from one career within medicine to another, it's not a particularly flexible career if it turns out that medicine it's as amazing as you think right now - which, frankly, is a very common occurrence.

To summarize, I think you could get into medicine, albeit with a fair bit of time and considerable amount of effort. But unless you literally cannot see yourself doing anything but becoming a physician, I have to think there are better options for you.

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And just on a personal note, I did a BSc in bio, finished with similar grades and am now completing a fast track nursing and will be applying to medicine for a few years when I’m done and doing NP if that doesn’t work out. Even if you don’t start your career in med or NP until you’re 45 you can still practice for 20 years in that role. If your wife is supportive and it doesn’t sound like money is an issue I’d say go for it.

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1 hour ago, Tezak said:

Thank you for this as well, and I do agree with you. The fact is, I will likely be going back to school regardless. Another job in finance is off the table. If it takes 2 years of undergrad then fine. If I never get in, and just end up with another undergrad in a field I might enjoy, then so be it. 

I would also say I think my only real shot is U of C with their 10 year exclusion rule. I would consider McMaster an outside shot. My wife has been honest but supportive, and she's been encouraging me to look into international shools as well (although I don't know if I'm ready for that). 

If you can increase your cGPA to >3.30, perform well on CARS (129-130+) and knock CASPER out of the park - then you might have a shot at McMaster.

Make sure you take a full course load during each year of your second undergraduate degree. Calgary, Dalhousie, McGill, Queen's, Western, and Ottawa are all viable options.

You only live once. Keep re-applying every year until you get in. Don't ever give up.

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Queen's and Western are possibilities - I believe they only look at your most recent 2 years for GPA. Ottawa is possible as well, as they look at your most recent 3 years.

Toronto and McMaster may be more difficult because I'm not sure how they view a second degree (ex: does your 1st degree still count in your cGPA?).  If it does, these schools will be very hard because they look at cumulative GPA. 

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2 hours ago, Tezak said:

Thank you for this as well, and I do agree with you. The fact is, I will likely be going back to school regardless. Another job in finance is off the table. If it takes 2 years of undergrad then fine. If I never get in, and just end up with another undergrad in a field I might enjoy, then so be it. 

I would also say I think my only real shot is U of C with their 10 year exclusion rule. I would consider McMaster an outside shot. My wife has been honest but supportive, and she's been encouraging me to look into international shools as well (although I don't know if I'm ready for that). 

For sure, and note that with my comment its really for Ontario schools only, I have no knowledge of Calgary's system.  Maybe if you are going back to school no matter what it makes more sense?  Just as someone who just started practice, I see a lot of the downsides of medicine; and if I were successful in finance I would not choose to put myself through this--it might be a bit of a grass is greener thing.  

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I spent most of my mid-20's agonizing over the decision whether to do medicine, and I can relate to how badly you want it especially when you're in a career you don't like or find fulfilling. Medicine looks so attractive comparison. It pays well, it's prestigious, it's a sort of "in" club that only a select few get to be a part of. And it's easy to project your own, possibly unfulfilled career and life aspirations, onto it.

You need to look at things very pragmatically. You're 34 now. By the time you do some remedial undergrad years, get through medical school and start residency you'll probably be 40+, unless you get into Mac this year. You will be making negative income until then. You will be treated like a kindergartener at some points during medical school, and you will be pimped and mistreated by residents and attendings 10+ years your junior while doing clerkship rotations. You will be studying and working obscene hours in your late 30s and early 40s while other people your age are enjoying more normal lives and the fruits of their working careers.

Being a student will put some financial strain on your family, though maybe not so bad if your wife is an attending by then. It's a pre-requisite that she is very supportive and will be by your side no matter where you get in. Also depending on where you match for residency, the whole family may have to move with you. Have you worked out all the financial implications of this career change and whether the expected NPV of this career change is positive?

I feel like I could write a book on the subject, but even if the path is perfectly clear for you and you get into medical school next year, it will be very, very challenging. And on top of that, you will have to work very very hard these next couple years to maybe have a shot at getting in.

I admire your determination to do what you're doing... but if I could go back a few years in time I'd slap myself silly and move on. But now I'm too indebted, too committed and too far away from my former career to consider otherwise.

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On 4/24/2018 at 12:58 PM, goleafsgochris said:

How is McMaster his best option?  He just meets the 3.0 cutoff.  The cutoff is well known for being absurdly low compared to what is needed for even an interview.  They take all your grades.  He could do 10 more years of undergrad and get a 4.0 each year and he would still be well below their average entrance GPA.

OP if you want my advice as someone who started practice a year ago, this is a terrible idea.  To put the chances in perspective:  you are in a worse position than a 17 year old who hasn't started undergrad yet, because of your old grades.  Your experience does not help without grades, and that includes your masters.  You are looking at at least 2 years of another undergrad to even have a chance to apply, meaning 3 years total.  For a CHANCE.  Its nice the above poster is optimistic but my honest advice is to drop it.  If you hate your job, look for another job in finance.  Honestly talk to your wife and tell her to be harsh and honest, and I'm almost sure she will echo what I just said.

Agreed.

Transition into a non-profit role at a university for example, or a hospital, that is working with people and outside of the finance realm.  Theres plenty of ways to get into things that are non-finance, especially with your background.  

Nursing would be a much better option, so maybe hold out another year and go all-in for that. Take some time off work, and reflect on things more without the pressures of the day to day.

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If you can't get into medical school in Canada or maybe USA, you really shouldn't go. That is a formula for

1. Being away from your wife/family for 4 years

2. Going $300,000+ into debt

3. Having a 25% chance at matching into residency in Canada after doing a crap load of extra exams and paperwork

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The sacrifices you are planning on making are insanely real. If this is what you want, go for it. There are people in every medical school who are around your age who do it, who like it etc., but the sacrifices are incredible. shematoma has it right, I would strongly consider the negatives. I hear a lot of the pros in your post but not the negatives. You could easily be away from your family and wife for 2-4/6 years, depending on what specialty your wife is in, she may or may not be easily willing to relocate for you. The debt will be insane and your ego will take a huge hit. You will face discrimination for your age, you will be at the bottom of the ladder begging for letters and respect from people half your age for 5-7 years assuming you make it. You will be trying to out compete people who are going to learn better, study more easily, have the time and the resources to do so and still do it all with a nice big innocent smile on your face. I'm sure you will at times feel regret if you choose this path, but the question will be is it worth it despite it for you. Medical school is incredibly competitive, again you will probably have to be working insanely hard just to obtain the grades you need to get in and that is no guarantee either. 

With all that being said, your plan does sound practical and well thought out. Your chances will be in Calgary and later on schools like Western and Queens (assuming you have a decent MCAT). If you ask me, if you do decide to take this path, give a go at MCAT practice tests before you start because if you can score well on the MCAT, your chances are higher than if you can't. You will have almost no chance at McMaster unfortunately since they look at every single grade. 

 

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I agree with everything said above, regarding the reality check.
You should be extremely realistic about your chances and the efforts.
You should also consider all the negatives, the stress on the family and the high chances of failure.
But my only advice is : forget about the age factor.

Would you go for it if you were 30? 32? 
How is it so different from 34?

Sure, it might take you 8 years to practice.
You will be 42.
And that will give you about 25 years to practice.

Guess what else?
If you work in finance for the next 8 years, you will also be 42.

Guess what else?
Some people become doctors at 30 and leave practice at 40.
That gives them 10 years of practice. 

Time will pass, we can't stop it.

I'm not telling you what to do, just telling you that age is of no relevance.
But if at the end of the day, it is a burning dream inside of you, go for it.
I don't even know how long I will live.
Good luck :)

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I was a lawyer prior to going into medical school. Although I am not married, I still count it as a bit of a sacrifice. I was making comfortable income and I had no debt and was saving for a downpayment. I was even up for promotion during the year I was admitted to medical school. It was a tough pill to swallow to have to go back to school and be a student again (incurring debt, time, effort, etc.). I found the transition to be smoother than I had imagined though. I too was worried, but at the end of the day, you need to satisfy yourself with the fact that you did all you could to accomplish your life goals. This involves planning and talking with your wife. How did she take it - I imagine she was/is supportive of you?

I did a few things before I accepted my offer: look at my personal finances to see how much I anticipate these 4 four years will entail - tuition, cost of living, etc. How much provincial aid I would receive (e.g., I am from Ontario so OSAP)? In your case, maybe look at your family's finances? 

I also thought hard and deep about why medicine. It was a bigger question for me because had I stayed in law, it was pretty much going to be easy sailing.. work hard, get promoted, become partner at law firm, etc. There is going to be a significant trade-off and opportunity cost - income and time forgone. But, some will argue in the forum that these are inconsequential if you goal is to be a doctor. But I found myself to be in a more unique situation and these costs merited analysis. I would argue the same for your case as well. For me, it really came down to, I always wanted to do medicine since a young age and it was the time to go for it.. I found the decision to be worth it (till this point at least! ha)

Lastly, be supportive of yourself. There will always be obstacles and difficult times - you will have to find time for your wife - these are realities. My challenges may be different from yours, but it all boils down to managing life and work. If there is a will there is a way. You need to want this badly enough. 

Happy to chat more through DM, but good luck and all the best with the app!

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On 4/25/2018 at 5:39 PM, shematoma said:

I spent most of my mid-20's agonizing over the decision whether to do medicine, and I can relate to how badly you want it especially when you're in a career you don't like or find fulfilling. Medicine looks so attractive comparison. It pays well, it's prestigious, it's a sort of "in" club that only a select few get to be a part of. And it's easy to project your own, possibly unfulfilled career and life aspirations, onto it.

You need to look at things very pragmatically. You're 34 now. By the time you do some remedial undergrad years, get through medical school and start residency you'll probably be 40+, unless you get into Mac this year. You will be making negative income until then. You will be treated like a kindergartener at some points during medical school, and you will be pimped and mistreated by residents and attendings 10+ years your junior while doing clerkship rotations. You will be studying and working obscene hours in your late 30s and early 40s while other people your age are enjoying more normal lives and the fruits of their working careers.

Being a student will put some financial strain on your family, though maybe not so bad if your wife is an attending by then. It's a pre-requisite that she is very supportive and will be by your side no matter where you get in. Also depending on where you match for residency, the whole family may have to move with you. Have you worked out all the financial implications of this career change and whether the expected NPV of this career change is positive?

I feel like I could write a book on the subject, but even if the path is perfectly clear for you and you get into medical school next year, it will be very, very challenging. And on top of that, you will have to work very very hard these next couple years to maybe have a shot at getting in.

I admire your determination to do what you're doing... but if I could go back a few years in time I'd slap myself silly and move on. But now I'm too indebted, too committed and too far away from my former career to consider otherwise.

I agree with everything above.

People try to minimize the 'age factor' but the truth is, the age matters. It's harder to study, it's more difficult to work long hours and your cohort is at a different stage of your life. All of this makes a tremendous impact on your well being and isolation. I wasn't much older, but even <5 years makes a difference.

I get the hint that motivation here is largely driven by dissatisfaction in current career. Fine, switch careers. Consider nursing. Consider MBA or another designation that will allow you to switch an area but make you happier. But going down this route is going to be exceptionally risky and difficult. There is even suggestions that medical school spots will be cut back given the CARMS situation which will make an already difficult situation worse. I wouldn't do it.

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