Older medical students persist, leverage life experience to achieve dreams

Some had an inkling that they wanted to become physicians at a young age, but self-doubts, poor study habits or life circumstances got in the way. Others discovered their medical calling after many years in other professions.

Each with a unique story, students who begin medical school in middle age or older face high hurdles but often experience tremendous personal satisfaction. Many are motivated by the desire to care for the underserved, make a difference in their communities or more fully leverage their cognitive abilities for the greater good.

The osteopathic medical profession is known for attracting nontraditional students who’ve had previous careers. But even so, fewer than 1% of current DO students started osteopathic medical school after age 40, according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). And fewer than 1 in 1,000 students enrolled after age 50.

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