In 2010, Megan McCord was working as a hairstylist and taking classes at a community college in Simi Valley, California, when life started to take an unexpected turn. “I had to take a basic biology course and I found myself enjoying it much more than I had in high school,” she said. “My biology professor was very encouraging and continually told me that I should pursue a career involving science since I had such a knack for it. He made the suggestion that I could become a doctor and his belief in me really encouraged me to see if a career in medicine was possible.”

McCord’s passion for her education eventually overshadowed her career as a hairstylist. She quit her job and took on school full-time, while also working in an emergency department as a medical scribe. Four years later, McCord is entering into her second year of medical school at the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine.

She said, “The first month of medical school I really felt like I had no idea if I was ever going to be able to handle it. I always expected it to be hard, but I don’t think I fully understood what that meant. After a few months, I fell into a good study rhythm and learned that I had to study certain subjects differently than how I studied other subjects. Once I figured that out, I felt better about handling the large volume of information I was learning every day and was able to enjoy more of what I was learning, instead of panicking that I could never learn it all.”

McCord also noticed her previous career experience coming in handy during her inaugural year, particularly when dealing with patients. “Working as a hairstylist I talked to many people who I had just met and, most of the time, they would share lots of details about their lives even though they didn’t really know me. I think that aspect of the job has helped make me very comfortable talking to people I don’t know, and also makes people feel comfortable enough to share personal details with me,” she explained.

While she isn’t sure what the future holds, McCord sees herself possibly working in emergency medicine or in obstetrics/gynecology. She would like to practice in the Southwest region of the United States and hopefully work with veterans. “I had quite a few friends in the military and a few of them got hurt, so working with veterans was a big part of me going to medical school,” she said.

McCord’s advice to other people considering a career change is simple: “Just go for it! When I told people at the salon that I planned on going to medical school, many people doubted that I could make the change but my family and close friends stood by me and supported me every step of the way. This experience has proven to me that you can do anything you put your heart into and that it is never too late to start a new career that you’re passionate about.