Nontraditional Medical Student
Getting into Medical School: A Guide for Older Nontraditional Students



Other Topics

Books and Biographies

Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that I
learn of him
. – Emerson

Books and Biographies

To help you understand what challenges to expect, take the time to read
biographies written by medical students and physicians. These first-hand
accounts will help you prepare for medical school, residency, and practice. Some
of the better ones that I have read are listed below.

Applying to Medical School
Medical School
Medical Practice
Osteopathic Medicine
Reading Comprehension


to Medical School

Getting into Medical School! A Guide for the
Perplexed, Kenneth Iserson, Galen Press.

An helpful book that outlines the admissions process, and contains information
on alternative programs. The
book is extremely detailed and contains 6 chapters on the
interview process alone.

Applying to Medical School for the Non-Traditional
Student, Bryan Goss, Lakeshore-Pearson.

A collection of 15 interviews with successful nontraditional applicants who
changed careers successfully got into medical school. The author is a
nontraditional student at Northwestern Medical School who worked in
pharmaceutical sales before attending medical school

Barron’s Guide to Medical and Dental Schools,

A helpful source of information on the medical school application process.
It contains detailed information about U.S. and Canadian medical schools, tips
on how to develop your essay (with many samples to look at), and a
self-assessment section. It also contains a detailed overview of medicine in
the twenty-first century, which can help when it’s time to essays for your secondary

Getting Into Medical School, Eighth Edition, Sanford J.
Brown, M.D., Barron’s.

The most informative book I’ve read on how to prepare and apply to medical
school, and on what to expect once you are a doctor. More than any other source,
this book helped me to understand that the stress I was going through (joking
referred to as “pre-med syndrome” by the author) was not unique. It
also helped me to confirm that I truly wanted to practice medicine.

Getting Into Medical School Today, Fourth Edition, Scott
Plantz, M.D., ARCO.

A good overview on how to prepare and apply to medical school. The book had some
interesting strategies on how and when to take medical school prerequisites, how
to maintain a good science G.P.A., which schools to apply to, and the needs of
special applicants (women, minorities, older students). Also included were
several sample AMCAS essays along with comments.

School Admission Requirements

An annual publication of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)
detailing the specific prerequisites of every U.S. medical school. If you can’t
afford it, see if you can borrow a copy from your premed advisor.

The Insider’s Book of Medical School Lists, Mark Baker,

The book contains lists of U.S. medical schools grouped in useful and sometimes
humorous ways. It organizes schools by various academic and lifestyle choices
from which schools have the best research programs to the ratio of days of
sunshine to days of rain.

The Best Medical Schools, Andrea Naby & Paula Bilstein,
Princeton Review.

An overview of M.D. and D.O. programs, similar to MSAR along with helpful
information on the application process.


A Not Entirely Benign Procedure : Four Years As a
Medical Student, Perri Klass, Plume/Penguin.

A humorous look at the struggles of medical school from someone who became a
mother during her preclinical years. The author had a more relaxed and maybe
even an undisciplined approach to school, which contrasted greatly with the
stereotype of the stressed out student who is obsessed with grades and

Becoming a Doctor, A Journey of Initiation in
Medical School, Melvin Konner, M.D, Penguin.

An honest and sometimes painful account of the third year of medical school from
the perspective of a non-traditional student. The author, whose original degree
was doctorate in anthropology, was critical of a medical education system that
he felt does not always focus on the human side of healing. The first half of
the book was great. The second half was a little preachy.

First Cut. A Season in the Human Anatomy Lab,
Albert Howard Carter III, Picador.

A chronicle spent with first-year medical students in the human anatomy lab. It
provides a humorous, compassionate, and insightful look at an essential right of
passage to becoming a physician.

Learning to Play God, Robert Marion, M.D.,

A revealing illustration of the emotional and physical cost of medical school
from the eyes of a student. While the book was at times critical of the
education process, the author’s view was one of hope with constructive examples
on how to improve the way doctors are educated.

Medical School Companion, Mary Ross-Dolen, M.D., et al,
Princeton Review.

A helpful outline on what to expect during each year of medical school and
residency. This book gives a realistic perspective of what will be expected of
medical students and what is needed to survive the rigors required to become a


Rotations, Robert Marion, M.D., Harper.

Similar to The Intern Blues, which the author wrote ten years earlier,
this book follows the lives of three interns in 1994 to see if education reforms
have served to increase the standard of patient care and improve the working
conditions of house officers. The book uses diary excerpts from these interns to
document how they dealt with tragedy, long hours, bureaucracy, and other
challenges of intern life. It also comments on New York’s Bell Commissions and
includes recommendations on how to reform the system of post-graduate training.

The Intern Blues, Robert Marion, M.D., Fawcett.

Written in the mid-1980’s, this book follows three doctors through their
internship. Each intern kept a diary throughout the year, excerpts of which were
included with commentary. While a little dated, the book provides dramatic
insight into the life of a house officer.


Emergency, Mark Brown, St. Martin’s Paperback.

A compelling look into emergency rooms around the nation. Scores of emergency
department personnel share their most shocking, poignant, heartbreaking, and
hilarious moments working in the ER.

My First Year As A Doctor, Melissa Ramsdell, M.D.,

An interesting collection of short stories written by doctors in various
specialties about the trials and triumphs of their first year in practice. It
illustrates the compassion these young physicians feel for their patients. In
the midst of health care reforms and arguments that being a doctor is not as
rewarding as it used to be, this book will help to humanize the field of


Discover Osteopathy, Peta Sneddon and Paolo Cosechi,
Ulysses Press.

Written by two osteopathic physicians, this book provides an overview into
osteopathic therapy.  It explains that how adjusting physical imbalances
promotes self-healing. It is written for the layperson and introduces what to
expect during treatment and which conditions osteopathy can best relieve.

The D.O.’s. Osteopathic Medicine in America, Norman
Gevitz, Johns Hopkins University Press.

The book provides a balanced overview of osteopathic medicine, written by
someone outside the field. A detailed
history is given along with its philosophical background, theories underlying
the use of spinal manipulation, opposition from the orthodox medical community,
and growth up through the 1980’s.


Read Better, Remember More, Elizabeth Chelsa, Learning

The book contains easy-to-use techniques to help you improve your basic reading
skills and remember more of what you read. The book is geared toward geared
toward the high school or early college level, so it’s a great place to start if
you need a lot of help improving your reading comprehension.

Power Reading Laurie Rozakis, Macmillan.

The book outlines a program to increase reading speed and comprehension. It
includes drills and exercises, along with special techniques for reading
documents, textbooks and periodicals, and strategies for faster absorption of
electronic data.

Triple Your Reading Speed, Wade Cutler, Arco.

The book is a guide to doubling or tripling your reading speed. It features eye
exercises to control and expand vision, drills for practicing pacing and block
reading, and strategies for mastering the two-stop reading method.