Former career: United States Marine Corps/Financial services
At first, Will Schneider was reluctant to tell his colleagues he intended to go to medical school. He had invested four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and begun a career in the investments industry. He was also a married father of three children. What would people think of chasing a childhood dream—requiring years of additional study and training—at this stage of his life?
“I expected detractors to deem my plan to abandon my career with a great trajectory as foolish,” Schneider said. But he needn’t have feared. “The most common response I got was, ‘I always wanted to do XYZ and just never did.’”
Schneider always wanted to be a physician.
“I began my journey to medical school immediately after high school, but I was woefully unprepared for college life,” he admitted. “Instead of sabotaging my academic future, I quickly withdrew and joined the military.”
Schneider credits the Marine Corps with teaching him “dogged persistence.” When his time in the military ended, he returned to college, earned a degree in economics and started an apprentice program at an investment firm.
“We were expected to read everything we could relating to decision making, cognitive biases, development of risk heuristics, etcetera,” Schneider said. “That time spent learning about what makes us tick and how incentives determine outcomes has been tremendously advantageous.”
As his 30th birthday approached, Schneider started to feel it was “now or never” on his longtime dream to be a doctor. Encouraged by his family—including a father and sister who are physicians—Schneider created a plan to leave the cubicle. That included working as a hospital patient care assistant for three years while taking additional science courses needed to apply to medical school.
Now a first-year medical student, Schneider says the greatest upside to being further down life’s path than his peers is having a spouse and children to help relieve the stress of medical school studies.
“It’s an incredible advantage because so much of the uncertainty usually experienced during your 20s is already settled for me, and I can jog upstairs to scoop up a smiling kid whenever I lose steam while studying,” he said.
While entering medical school later in life has its challenges, most career shifters say the advantages are far greater. Medical students in their 30s or 40s bring broader life experiences and tend to be focused, organized and resilient.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Laura is senior writer with the Office of Strategic Communications and loves to tell the stories of outstanding students, faculty and staff at IU School of Medicine. A native Hoosier, she has over 25 years of experience in communications, having worked with newspapers and other media organizations in Indiana and Florida, along with small businesses, community groups and non-profit organizations. Before joining IU School of Medicine in January 2020, she was editor-in-chief of a lifestyle magazine serving the community of Estero, Florida.