Just when are you too old to start med school? According to Joshua Tompkins—a 40-year-old second-year medical student at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine—never.
Tompkins wrote an article in The Chronicle Review (“Confessions of a Middle-Aged Med Student”) about how “getting into medical school no longer requires being 23 and having a B.S. in biochemistry.”
Although it might seen like an overwhelming challenge to embark on the long road of medical school so late in life, Tompkins had his reasons: “As a physician, I’ll enjoy guaranteed employment doing what I enjoy, anywhere I want, for life.” Not a bad motive.
Tompkins even tries to make up for his old age by offering younger classmates his sage advice: “Stop talking like teenagers, because no patient will trust a doctor who says, ‘Uh, yeah, we did, like, an MRI, and there’s, like, a really gnarly tumor that’s, like, stuck to your spine.’”
Young or old, Tompkins acknowledges the difficulty of cramming so much information into his head. He studies literally day and night, and is known for listing the bones in the wrist to himself as he walks along the street.
Asked how he manages with all the hours of studying and the stress of test taking, Tompkins quotes from psychiatrist M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled: “when you accept the fact that life is hard, then life becomes easy.”
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