Racing Odysseus is a book by Roger H Martin. Four years ago Martin took a sabbatical from his job as president of Randolph-Macon College to enroll as a freshman at St John’s College in Annapolis, MD. He was not really a student – he didn’t participate in seminar discussions and he only stayed for a short while.

My only point in mentioning this is that it has already been done in spades by Ludwig Eichna. Eichna was one of the most distinguished academic physicians of the last century. Following his retirement as Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn in 1974 he enrolled as a full time medical student and was awarded a second MD in 1979. No academic dilettante he. He stayed for the duration.

His experience as a second-time medical student at a place where he used to be a very big wheel must have been surreal. He published his impression of being a medical student as an old man in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1980. Eichna’s capacity for punishment seems to have been limitless.

So if you’re retired and bored, if the senior center is too slow for you – go to medical school. It’s a lot easier to get into these days and there’s a cap on work hours. Almost no one flunks out now and solicitude is in every classroom and lab – scratch the lab, medical students rarely see the inside of one nowadays. Going to medical school is just what the doctor ordered to enliven your golden years. The AARP will soon issue a medical student Visa card for its members who choose medicine as a second career. The card will carry a Medicare discount as an extra incentive.

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