Is this your year to make the change?

No matter how hard you try, you can’t silence that voice deep within. It’s likely been there for years and strengthens around each New Year during times of reflection. Even though your career has been successful and satisfying, something is still missing. This nagging feeling is a common denominator for non-traditional medical students, individuals who put off their dream of becoming a physician.

Oceania University of Medicine’s student body is filled with people who had similar thoughts. Some may have heard the voice sooner than others, but many OUM students decided to enroll in medical school despite being well past their 20s or even their 30s. The average age of OUM’s current students is 40.7 years old – the youngest is under 25 and the oldest is over 65.

“It’s very interesting that for several years now, the average age of our incoming students has stayed relatively consistent,” says Joy Braun, OUM’s Registrar and Associate Director of Administration. “The average age is currently 40.5 years and for most of OUM’s 15 years, that statistic has never gone below the late 30s, even going up to 43 years old,” she adds.

Age is an asset

OUM students – past and present – agree that age and the experience that goes along with it are assets in medical school. “Being 40-something means we bring certain things to the table that most 26-year-olds cannot,” says Terri Brewis, third-year clinical student from Florida, USA. “Experience is valuable. We know how to find something in a chart and during the first days of rotations, we will not be touching patients for the first time.”

That maturity and experience is a positive, not only during clerkships, but also when it’s time to apply for residencies and internships.

“Our CVs and resumes already stand out because we’re older and have clinical experience, as well as life experience. We’re often a bit older and wiser,” says Jennifer Allen, M.D., OUM Class of 2012, a board-certified family physician in Missouri, USA.

 If I can do it . . .”

Third-year student Kevin Reid, of Sydney, Australia, also doesn’t believe age is an issue.

“If I can do it, anyone can,” chuckles Kevin.  “I don’t think age is an issue at all. Don’t think that you can’t do it for any reason. Set your mind on what you want and go for it.”