Are You TOO OLD For Med School?!

Hey, what’s up you guys? Thanks for watching this video. My name is Buck Parker. I’m a board certified general surgeon.

In this video, I wanna talk about, is it okay or should you go to school, med school, later in life I guess you could say. I get this question a lot. I thought I’d give you my two-sense on it.

I am 43. I finished residency at 35. So I’ll just tell you, quickly, my timeline. I went to college, I did…I finished college in five years. I took a year, I think, about a year and a half off between college and med school. Ended up going to a med school. And then…Med school’s four years, obviously. I took a year off in med school to study for the USMLE step one because I was at a Caribbean school. Many of you guys know that. I was an IMG. So I knew that I needed to do really well on the USMLE step one, so I took a year to study for that outside of the normal med school. So my med school was five years. And then I did a residency, which was five years. And I did a research year in that residency, which was…So that made it six. So my timeline is I finished high school in 1992, and I finished residency in 2010. So that’s definitely more than the usual. But it’s not…I didn’t start med school at 35 and 40 or something like that. So mine is a little bit delayed.

That can tell you that it’s certainly tough when you get on the tail end of that. I wanna also mention that I finished residency at 35, but I took a job, initially, in my hometown. Which was not a great- Probably wasn’t a great idea to begin with. But I did not make hardly any money. Maybe I made $60,000 or $80,000 a year. I was putting most of that back into my business, so I was really pretty much struggling for a few- about three to four years.

After I finished that, I got a new job, a regular salary job. Wasn’t anything special, wasn’t making a good- twice as what everybody else makes or anything. It was just a regular salaried surgeon job, average, run-of-the-mill salary. That was at, basically, 40, 41. Yeah, about 40. Really, I waited almost until 40 to have a real job if you wanna call it that. It’s definitely tough to do that.

You see everybody else doing well, and they’re much younger. They got a house, and they got a car. They got kids, and you think everything is hunky-dory with them. You’re like, “Oh man, I really screwed up. I should’ve done that and all that stuff.”

But for me, it was my timeline. I think that’s one thing you gotta think about is what is your timeline. During college, I screwed around. I got to have fun in college. I did my own thing after college for a little bit. I took some time off in med school. I was studying a lot, but I also got to do things that other medical students didn’t get to do. So you have to think about those things too.

Some of those folks that go right through, they do finish early. But they may not have the experiences that you’ll have when you’re younger if you’re able to do those things or if you decide a little bit later. You can get money. You cannot get time back. You can always make more money, but you cannot get your time back.

So when you’re 21 and you never go out or you never do the things that you wanted to do when you’re 35 or when you’re 32 when you finish residency, you still can’t go back to 21. You just can’t do it. So it’s a tough decision, but I think it’s individual.

I do have a couple friends who finished residency at 53, so that’s pretty late. But he was also a general surgeon in another country and then came to our country, was a scrub tech for a while, and then got into residency and finished at 53.

I had another friend finish residency. I think he was, like, 45.

It’s all up to you. It’s not anything…I don’t think you should think of it as, “I’m too old,” or “It’s too late for me,” but really are you being called to that profession for some reason?

When you’re young, you sometimes…I’m 43 now. I think back to when I was- when I wanted to start med school. You’re not even sure anymore why you wanted to do that. I feel fortunate that my younger self did that, but it’s tough to pinpoint what exactly drove me to do those things. We don’t know why anyone does anything. Is it something internal or it’s external and we think it’s internal? Is it just a bunch of marketing bull(bleep) that we’re being pounded with all the time? Or is it innate?

I have some little one and a half year old nephews, and I’ve got a five-year-old and a three-year-old niece. They all have completely different personalities. It was right from the get-go, so we’re hardwired with something. It’s probably a good idea to listen to that, whatever inside is telling you. If you’re being told by yourself that you really need to do that and you’re a little bit older, then I’m not sure you’ll be happy with yourself if you don’t do it when you’re 70, 80. That was a big driver for me.

I never- It still is. I always think, “Am I gonna regret this if I don’t do it? If I don’t put in the work now, if I don’t commit to it, am I gonna regret this later?” I think that’s a good thing to think about. Maybe put things in perspective for you.

All right well, I hope you liked that video. If you like these, subscribe and maybe share it with a friend. That’d be awesome, and I’ll see you in the next one. Take care.

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