7 Oldest Medical Students in the World

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average age of students entering medical school is about 24 years old. However, it is possible to attend and graduate medical school when you’re older. In fact, older applicants are often very attractive medical school candidates due to their extensive life experience.

Almost all of the people on this list had very long and successful careers in other fields before deciding to fulfill lifelong dreams of becoming a doctor. Everyone on this list proves that it’s never too late to start over again and go after the things you want in life.

7. Heidi Meyer

Oldest Age While Attending School: 37 years old in 2008
Country of Origin:  San Diego, California, USA
School:  University Of California, San Diego School Of Medicine
Year Graduated:  2008

Heidi Meyerphoto source:  CNN

Heidi Meyer was featured in the same CNN story about older medical students as another doctor on this list, Michael Moore. Meyer said that although she had always wanted to go into medicine, she chose to pursue musical theater instead. When Meyer decided to leave her Broadway career, it raised some eyebrows, but she said, “I wasn’t going to grow and be the person I wanted to be.”

Meyer graduated from San Diego School of Medicine at the University of California in 2008 at 37 years old. At the time of the CNN story, Meyer was 40 years old and finishing up her residency at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Meyers is now a family physician.

6. Shasta Theodore

Oldest Age While Attending School: 42 in 2017 (last news from that year)
Country of Origin:  Houston, Texas
School:  McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston, Texas
Year Graduated:  Unknown – most likely still attending school

Shasta Theodorephoto source:  TMC News

Shasta Theodore already had a bachelor’s degree in sociology and history as well as a Ph.D. in deomgraphy before she decided she wanted to become a medical doctor. Theodore says that she started thinking about becoming a nurse after her first year of graduate school. During the summer, Theodore went to Ghana and worked on a health project and realized that she wanted to help people by providing health care.

Theodore wanted to jump right into medicine, but was advised to focus on and finish her Ph.D. first. However, Theodore then worked in South Africa as the director of a health promotion project for adolescents and was determined to pursue this new path. In 2017, at 42 years old, Theodore was in her second year of medical school at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston, Texas.

5. Nathan Goldfein

Oldest Age While Attending School: 40s
Country of Origin:  Alamogordo, New Mexico
School:  University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, Arizona
Year Graduated:  2005

Nathan Goldfeinphoto source:  Envision Physician Services

Although Nathan Goldfein started his second career as a doctor later in life, he worked hard and is now the senior vice president of hospital medicine at Envision Physician Services  and director of the hospital medicine program at Gerald Champion Regional medical Center in Alamogordo, N.M. Before working in medicine, Goldfein worked in manufacturing and has a degree in mechanical engineering and manufacturing. Goldfein worked on projects designing missiles, satellites and air brakes, and has earned 10 patents during his previous career.

Despite such an impressive career history, Goldfein decided to start down a completely different path. According to Goldfein, two life-changing experiences led him to decide to become a doctor. Goldfein was on a flight where a passenger having a heart attack needed help, which made Goldfein feel helpless. He also had always regretted not trying out for the NFL when he had the opportunity. Goldfein said he didn’t want to have any more regrets later in life and went to medical school when he was 40 years old.

4. Joyce Haynes Busch

Oldest Age While Attending School: 46 years old in 2016
Country of Origin:  Texas, USA
School:  Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica
Year Graduated:  2016

Joyce Haynes Buschphoto source:  BlackDoctor.org

Joyce Haynes Busch started her blog, A 40 Year Old Medical Student, in 2008 when she was in her late 30s and decided she wanted to go to medical school. In her very first blog post, Busch said that she hoped to enter medical school at 40 and her dream actually came true when she was 41 years old. In 2011, Busch was accepted into the Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica (RUSM).

After five years, Busch graduated from medical school in 2016 and began her residency in Family Medicine at the University of Arkansas Southwest in Texarkana, Texas. Busch was inspired to pursue her original career dream when her husband of less than two years suddenly died after battling prostate cancer.

3. Michael Moore

Oldest Age While Attending School: 50 years old in 2013
Country of Origin:  McChord, Washington, USA
School:  Pacific Northwest University of Health and Sciences
Year Graduated:  2013

Michael Moorephoto source:  CNN

Before becoming a doctor in 2013, Michael Moore had years of experience as a Primary Care, Emergency Medicine, Surgical, and Critical Care Physician Assistant in both military and civilian hospitals. When Moore’s story was covered by CNN in 2011, he was 48 years old and an Army major. Moore graduated from Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Washington in 2013 at age 50.

Moore said that he studied for his medical admissions test in Iraq between missions. Moore took a big risk that paid off and he is now a doctor of osteopathic medicine. After graduating, Moore did his residency at Madigan Army Medical Center also in Washington.

2. Genevie Kocourek

Oldest Age While Attending School: 53 years old in 2008
Country of Origin:  Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
School:  University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison
Year Graduated:  2008

Genevie Kocourekphoto source:  The Huffington Post

Genevie Kocourek had always wanted to get into medicine but did not pursue her dream for financial reasons. Kocourek ended up working in Information Technology (IT) and when she was nearly in her 50s decided she wanted to make a career change. Initially, Kocourek thought of becoming a nurse, but her husband suggested that she should apply to medical school instead.

Kocourek attended the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison and graduated in 2008 at 53. Kocourek thought about quitting while she was doing her third-year rotations, but stuck it out with help from family and friends. In 2011, Kocourek opened her own holistic medical practice.

1. Atomic Leow

Oldest Age While Attending School: 66 years old in 2015
Country of Origin:  Singapore
School:  University GT Popa of Medicine and Pharmacy in Iasi, Romania
Year Graduated:  2015

Atomic Leowphoto source:  Singapore Book of Records

Atomic Leow was 66 years old when he graduated in 2015 as a Doctor of Medicine from University GT Popa of Medicine and Pharmacy in Iasi, Romania. Leow, who is originally from Singapore, is the oldest known medical student in the world.

Before deciding to become a doctor so late in life, Leow was one of Singapore’s foremost hydroponic research scientists and educators.

Leow also holds a few different degrees from La Trobe University in Australia, including a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) and a Diploma in Education. He also became a Doctor of Philosophy (Toxicology) while studying at La Trobe. While attending medical school, Leow faced many challenges, including dealing with several health scares. Despite all of his hardships, Leow graduated in the top 10 per cent of his class.


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