Goodness Report

Mom of autistic son enrolls in medical school at age of 50

September 15, 2022

By Emma Dunn, SWNS

This mom of an autistic son entered medical school to become a doctor at the age of 50 to “prove it’s never too late to chase your dreams.”

Jen Reinmuth-Birch, 51, took the plunge after her new husband convinced her to go back to school to kick start her career.

The mom-of-two had been inspired to become a doctor after seeing the amazing work medical professionals do with children with special needs – which resonated with her as a mom of a boy with autism.

After four years of building up work experience and getting her science qualifications, she was accepted into her dream medical school – Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in January 2021.

Now in her second year, she is inspiring others to do what they want to do.

Jen, a student, from Yakima, Washington, said: “I just suddenly found my passion for medicine in my late 40s, but I never thought it was possible. I was a single mom and working two jobs to keep us afloat. Then I met my now-husband who gave me the push to go and do it. Now after four years of hard work I’m on the path to becoming a doctor and I’m loving every second. It’s hard work but I’ve never been happier.”

Jen had always been a stay-at-home mom to her twin boys – Jack and Michael, both 20 – until her marriage broke down and she had to go it alone in 2008.

“I became a busy city mom juggling two jobs,” she said “My boys came first.”

But Jen did find the time to go back and do a masters in special needs education and found a love for medicine when shadowing doctors.

“I found it so interesting, but I didn’t think I would ever have the option to do that,” she said.

But in 2012 she met Norm Birch, 66, a distribution manager, after being introduced through a friend.

When he heard about her dream to be a doctor, he told her he wanted to help her make it a reality.

“I told him it wasn’t possible because I had the boys,” Jen said, “But he told me he would help out with them and any excuse I came up with he had an answer. So I re-enrolled at school.”

Jen went back to school in September 2012 and took four years getting her science qualifications and work shadowing before applying for her medical degree.

“When I found out I got accepted into my dream medical school my legs collapsed,” Jen said.

“I was so shocked. It’s life-changing.”

Jen started at the Pacific North West University of Health Sciences in August 2021 and gets up at 4 A.M. each day to study before her classes start at 8 A.M.

She finishes at 5 P.M. and uses the evening to have quality time with her family.

“I thought it would feel strange starting school at 50 when all the other students are young enough to be my children,” she said “But everyone just sees me as Jen. I’m no different. I’m one of the kids.”

Jen has dealt with some nasty comments such as – “good luck grandma” and “you’ll be dead before you graduate” from people online – but she has mostly had positive feedback from others online.

“People tell me I’ve inspired them to go back to school which is amazing,” Jen said “I get tears in my eyes reading some of the messages I get.”

“I’m loving it,” she said.

“I am so thankful to Norm for pushing me to do this.

“He’s my biggest cheerleader.”


Orange County's Creative Communications Agency