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I've wanted to become a doctor since I was young, but because of my ADHD decided to forgo post-secondary education immediately following high school and instead become an entrepreneur. I've recently turned 26, and have had considerable success with various businesses over the past 8 years (real estate, mining and pharmaceutical).  While I enjoy what I do, I find myself consistently drawn to medicine, and spend hours reading medical journals in my spare time.  My dream is to become an emergency physician, and I am drawn to the University of Calgary for the three year program and two year post secondary admission requirements. 

I'm in the unique position where I can quit everything and focus entirely on this goal. I'm wondering what my best course of action is to achieve admission to this school.  I currently live in BC, should I move to Alberta to start the clock on becoming an Alberta resident (24 months), while working toward two years of undergraduate studies? 

What is recommended for undergraduate studies? Should the focus be on GPA or on specific pre-med type courses?

Thank you!



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There is no recommended undergraduate study. Go into a program where you will excel GPA-wise (whether that be science-related or not). My recommendation is to create a spreadsheet of every medical school you're interested in, precisely list out their admissions requirements (every school is a bit different; check their website and call/email them for anything that's unclear). Most schools also publish stats on the students they accepted (e.g,. average GPA of accepted student). This will give you the targets you need to reach (i.e., the average stats of the accepted student) and then you can create a plan on how to achieve them (e.g., which prerequisites to take). In general, the requirements will be a high GPA (usually ~3.8/3.9, though students get in with lower), extracurriculars related to helping people and leadership (sounds like you've got that already; check out CanMEDS for which traits Canadian medical schools are looking for), possibly prerequisites (e.g., chemistry, biology), CASPer (ethical decision-making test), and reference letters.


Having said that, please seriously consider whether you will truly be satisfied by medicine more than what you have now. Right now, it sounds like you have an income, work-life balance, and satisfaction with what you've achieved. In the best case scenario (which is far from guaranteed), you will be putting all of this on hold for a minimum of 8 years (2 undergrad + 3 Calgary med school + 2 year family med + 1 year emergency medicine; note that many people who go into emergency end up doing the 5-year option, which would mean you've trained for 10 years). Will you be happy "restarting" life at 34/36 (again, this is the best case scenario)?

So, make sure to read about the negatives of medicine, including emergency medicine (e.g., shift work), and recognize the potential impact on your life. There are several posts here from people who came from other careers and only now, after all their training and sacrifice, realize that they would've been just as happy in their previous career. Many medical specialties have tight job markets, medicine can have a brutal hierarchical structure, the studying hours are very long.

Personally, I recently started at 27 coming from a different career. I'm enjoying it and know I made the right choice for me, but there are many, many difficult days, and it's only going to get more stressful. I am studying basically every day with almost no free time (this is because I hadn't done many of the typical pre-med science courses). Make sure you know what you're getting into rather than having a false view of what medicine will be/is. I'm happy to answer more questions over PM.

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On 7/4/2020 at 3:37 PM, ralex said:

My dream is to become an emergency physician, and I am drawn to the University of Calgary for the three year program and two year post secondary admission requirements. 

Not sure where you read about the two-year post-secondary requirement. The earliest you can get into UofC med is after completing your third year. Keep in mind though that only 2-3 (of ~155) students get in out of third year in each cohort, and the vast majority of students have completed their bachelors, and many have graduate degrees as well. Also, getting into med schools is hard, so you ideally don't want to limit your applications just to UofC, and plan carefully (i.e., prerequisities, MCAT, etc.) to be eligible to apply to multiple schools across Canada. The average person who gets into med school applies about three times. Although you likely have an amazing CV that will set you apart from all of the pre-med rabble, admission to med school can be subjective, and it's really hard to say whether anyone (no matter how amazing their stats) will be able to get into med. Be prepared to apply multiple cycles.

Re: your main question, I will echo what gogogo said. If medicine is absolutely something you love and would regret not pursuing then you should give it a shot. This year's incoming class at UofC has someone who is 41-years old, so it's never too late to pusue med! But at the same time, it is important to understand the high-investment in terms of time, money, and stress you will have to go through with 3-4 year bachelors + 3-4 years Med school + 5 year residency as an emergency physician + probably a 1 year fellowship. You seem to have been very successful in life so far, so it's important to think hard about whether this is something you really want or whether "the grass is always greener on the other side". 

I say all this not to discourage you from applying, but just to make you aware of the years of hard work it will take to get to your goal of becoming an independent emergency physician in Canada. Whether or not you choose to go down this path is really up to you. Good luck!

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  • 5 months later...

Hey I just happened to stumble upon this a few months later but I thought I would chime in. 

I'm 27 and currently applying, also have ADHD and it has been a huge hurdle for me to overcome - especially with the memorization needed and general rigour of many premed courses. If I was in your position I would maybe consider going to a 5-7 year medical school program in Europe or Australia that you can do without an undergrad since you're 100% sure you want to be an MD. 

Also I don't necessarily agree with zxcccxz is saying about being weary of the of 2-3 out of 155 making it without completing an undergrad, your application will definitely stand out and I'm sure the 2-3 students are people alot like you that made career switches or are extraordinary in other ways. But definitely keep in mind that it will not be simple to suddenly start your undergrad and get the grades you need after years of being out of school - take it from someone with ADHD that started my BSc 5 years after finishing high school (but also definitely doable, especially if you're as motivated as you sound). 

Please message me if you want advice on MCAT accommodations or anything else about the process cause I probably relate to your situation more than most others. 

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If you enjoy what you do, and you're making good money, I personally would not pursue medicine. The opportunity cost of 4 years undergrad (the people that get in after 2 year are incredibly brilliant and accomplished individuals, and banking on getting in after 2 years is not something that I would consider realistic for the vast majority of people), 3-4 years of medical school and 2-5 years of residency is simply not worth it. Aside from that, medicine will take as much from you as you are willing to let it - you will miss many birthdays, celebrations, and most importantly, time with family and friends. Sure, being an EM doc is "cool", but you can find fulfilment doing other things just as easily, and being so far away from choosing a residency, it would be unrealistic to think that that is the field that you would choose. Working shift-work into your 40s and 50s may seem realistic when you're 26, but I'm sure your older self would disagree. I can keep going, but training in medicine is much more demanding and exhausting than is perceived from the outside view. 

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If this is what you really want to do, then do it. Yes it will take time to get there, but people forget it's not only about the outcome. It's also about the experience you will have getting there (I know the cliche but its true). I just turned 34 and am finishing up my first year of my BSc at UofC and plan on med.  Will I apply after 2 years in hopes of getting accepted in the third? Of course! Do I know that I will likely need to finish the entire undergrad first? Yup! It's a barrier I am willing to overcome. I will be roughly 45 by the time I get into practice which will give me 20 years in medicine plus all the training. After being in my field for 14 now, I know that's a good amount of time and totally worth it. You will have 30.

I do agree banking on one school is not ideal either. One extra year is nothing so check out what you will need for multiple schools.

Emergency is pretty cool and yes there is shift work, but most ER doc's I know only work 3-4 days a week so they have a great life balance. Also, don't think of residency as just more school. You get paid to be there. It's not extravagant, but more like on the job training. I'm pretty sure a really high amount of people switch the specialty they think they want going into med school anyway...so don't let your specialty choice now hold you back if you love medicine. There might be something else out there that you are drawn to with a more normalized schedule...or you find you love ER. You won't know unless you try.

I realized that the time is going to pass anyways and you might as well be working towards something you want while it passes. That way in 10 years you can be a doctor rather than looking back thinking that if you had started now you could have been one by then. Just be smart and have a plan B and choose and undergrad that you will enjoy. If med ends up not working out (by choice or not), you will have something to continue working towards that you still like.

Good Luck and Get At It!!


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Im 39 and currently in first year at UofC and left a career making 100-120K a year and moe in the future. I completely agree with Maturemed86's comments. ER and anesthesia are my two top choices, but ending up in FM is also very okay. One of my mentors told me "You're going to be old, why not be old and a doctor if thats what you want." 

Feel free to DM me and we can set up a time to chat if you would like.

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