Sunday, June 24, 2012

And Now I'm 27...

Yep, today I turn 27 years old, an age that for the last three years has signified the age at which I would (fingers crossed) start my first year of med school. Over those three years, everything has fallen into place and I'll be kicking off my first day of class two months from tomorrow. Which means that two months from today will be MSU CHM's White Coat Ceremony, when all the incoming med students will be presented with their short white coats.

That. Is. Crazy. So soon! I've been thinking in terms of years for so long that the concept of just two months seems a bit surreal.

Since I got accepted, I've gotten a lot of questions about how I feel, knowing that I'm going to be older than a lot of the traditional students with whom I will be in class. I've boiled my response down to a few (rather bloated for being boiled down) key points:

1. The age gap isn't as apparent as it might seem to be. There will be a lot of students younger than me, but there will also be quite a few who are older. I think last year, there was a 41-year-old, and I know there were several n their thirties. Regardless, none of us has done this before, so at least everyone starts on a level plane in that respect.

2. I feel like I have a lot of useful experience from the past five years of working as a Human Resources professional. One of the friends I made during these past three years of premed classes put it rather eloquently. "Dude, you've got so much experience. You've worked so much while doing everything else. You're like, an ADULT." What (I think) he was getting at is that my time management skills have definitely been pushed and molded over the past few years. Balancing a 45-hour work week with classes, labs, church, volunteering, studying, applications, interviews, traveling for work, and family time with the wife is a much more delicate act than even a full-time student's schedule. While neither is an easy feat, I definitely feel well-prepared (at least as well as possible) for the rigors of med school.

3. With whatever added maturity that can be gained from five years spent in the "real world," I've learned that fierce competition shouldn't be the most important thing. By working as a member of a cooperative team, I've learned the value of teamwork better than I ever could have by doing a group project or working with a lab partner. I have mentioned this on my blog before, I but I intend to bring this spirit of cooperation with me to med school. For example, I plan to make all of my notes, outlines, study guides, and notecards available for my classmates via Dropbox. By sharing what I'm studying, I hope to help others out in the event that they might need it. There is also the possibility that I've got something jotted down wrong, and a friend who is reading over a study guide I've shared will hopefully take the time to let me know about the error. I this way, everybody wins. Besides, the reason I'm becoming a doctor is focused around a desire to use my skills as much as possible for the betterment of others. Why wait for graduation to start putting that concept into practice?

I hope to be the antithesis of the traditional "gunner," whatever that would be called. Not just out to help myself to succeed, but ready to do what I reasonably can to help anyone and everyone to succeed. Driver? Sighter? Ground Support? Any suggestions?

5 comments:

Jill said...

Thank you for your comments today, and happy birthday. They are encouraging to me and here's why: my son has a college degree in music performance that took 5 years (and much expense of course.) He has been home since graduating a year ago and is making a new start, nothing to do with music. He is attempting to go into the army with the ultimate goal of flying helicopters. He has taken flight lessons and is a test flight away from his first rating. He has had Lasik surgery to meet the army's vision requirements. All this and he is not yet admitted. He, like you, will be starting this new career a tad older than the typical army entrants. Again, thanks for your perspective. I know he is more mature and prepared for this new adventure because of his last 6 years.

Allison said...

You made tons of great points! I love #4. We're all in the same boat, and helping your classmates succeed only makes your school better! Can't wait to hear about med school.

Anonymous said...

This is my first time commenting on any of your posts, despite being a long time follower. I just need to let you know how inspirational you've been over the past few years with reaching for your goals. I'm 23 and following the same track in a premed concentration. I anticipate being about 27 when I start and so I'm glad to see that age has not played a factor in pursuing this goal. Thank you.

Justin said...

@ Jill - thank you very much, and you're welcome! Good luck to your son; it sounds like he is doing a lot of good stuff to prepare for his goal. I hope it all goes well!

@Allison - thanks! I've been following you as well, and I can't wait to hear about your M1 starting this fall, TOS-free!

@Anon - your comment was purely awesome to read. Thanks so much for sharing this with me! I think you will agree once you reach the same point where I am now - once you've been accepted into med school, being nontraditional will only be a boon as you start your new career, at least in terms of maturity and life outlook. I hear it is definitely a lot harder with kids and such, but even then, definitely doable. My cousin's wife just completed her first year at MSU CHM, and she is in her thirties and they have four kids, two adopted and one special needs! Good luck to you, and if you ever have any questions, feel free to email me directly using the Contact Me portion of the blog.

Kristin Darr said...

Hey Justin! I am starting at MSUCHM with you next week! I also have a blog and found yours when I was googling the White Coat Ceremony! haha Cant wait to meet you and everyone else in 7 days!

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