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Going to Medical School
I am starting medical school in Vallejo this August. I have taken 3.5 years off from school since graduating from college. I have worked multiple jobs to support my family because my partner has been jobless for 3 years. I just recently paid off 50,000 of debt. I felt a bit over-worked but very thankful for the ample work opportunities. I am not sure what to do when school starts.
My parents live in LA. They offer to take care of my toddler so that I can focus on school. As much as I know that medical school work load will make me mostly unavailable for my daughter, I have a hard time believing that I can excel academically with my daughter 400 miles away from me most of the time.
My other option is to believe that partner can rise up to becoming the sole care-taker of our daughter. He will take care of her in the evenings and weekends, while she's enrolled in daycare 45 hrs weekly.
Should I let my parents take care of my child? They are in their late fifties and early sixties. Children are demanding. My parents are not in the best financial situation. I will try my best to help them financially with my savings/loan. I know that they are more patient and wiser than my partner and I.
Should I let my partner try to take care of our daughter so that I could at least tuck her in at night? Should I let my parents take care of my daughter at least for the first semester or first year of medical school, since many med students told me that the first year was the hardest.
In my relationship with my partner, I have been the cook, the comforter, the bread-winner, the sole care taker of my daughter, I don't think the dynamic will reverse in 3.5 months when I start medical school. I want my daughter to be in a loving, supportive, and stable environment. I don't want her to see my partner and I argue. But I will miss her so much and be so sad to not see her for long stretches of time. I've proposed to my mother for her to move up to the Bay and I would compensate her financially (cover the money she'd make in LA.) But she declined. I don't see anyway to reconcile my desires to watch my daughter grow, excel in medical school, and provide her the healthiest environment to thrive. torn between motherhood and education
i don't see how while you're in school, you'd be able to pay for daycare, in addition to your living expenses, when there's another person in the household who can help out. your partner could save everyone a LOT of money by becoming the primary caretaker. (and no need to be a good cook either.)
if you can't rely or trust your partner to rise to the occasion and contribute to the household, why are you with this person and being an enabler? this is not what you need to deal with, but it seems like you guys have a relationship problem.
but you seem like a really strong, driven person, so don't let anything dissuade you from that goal. sure, your daughter will miss you, but in the long run, she'll realize how hard-work and dedication pay off in the end when you become a doctor. good luck. - reluctant primary caretaker but a capable caretaker nonetheless
It might be helpful to consider some kind of counseling with your partner. You seem a bit exasperated with him and also you don't sound as if you trust him to be a stay- at-home parent. Will he do everything the same as you? Nope. But if he will love and care for your daughter, that's what's important. If he's a caring dad, I think keeping your daughter with you, while takes day-to-day responsibility for her, is a much better option than sending her to live with your parents.
Now, how are you going to manage financially with an out- of-work partner and you going to school full-time? I assume that you are going to be taking out copious loans to pay for school and probably living expenses too. The debt will be a significant factor in your future, so hopefully you've given the whole medical school plan a lot of thought and you KNOW that you are on the right path for yourself and your family. If so, go for it. Try to avoid getting swept up in your classmates craziness re: grades. Having your daughter with you will help you keep your perspective, I think. Will be paying off loans for a long time
Sorry if said too much...I did not mean to hurt u. But if u want some one to inspire/brainstrom/motivate u to do this then please reply to this post with ur id and I will get in touch with u. I am not a professional consultant but will talk to u in the spirit of motherhood/sisterhood. Yes, of course for no money :) . Good luck. Another mom
I was in disbelief when I read your issue! Your husband is your partner - that means that he should be working alongside you to do what is best for his family. I feel very strongly that unless your husband has a disability that doesn't enable him, of course he should be looking after your child. You are depriving him of the right to be the primary care-giver of your child by asking your parents or sending your child to day-care. Your parents sound like wonderful people but they've done their job - they should be allowed to live the life they want now without extra responsibility.
You have done more than your fair share - it is now time for him to step up to the plate and take on his responsibility as a parent and as a husband! It really is a no-brainer - you go to school, he looks after your daughter and the home. You need to communicate this to him clearly and factually without an argument. Just do it, he will have to row in. Your daughter will be happy to be spending time with her father and you will be more appreciated for all that you have done. You need to stand up for yourself in this instance and command the respect you deserve. Your daughter will benefit by this in the long run.
Just wondering - what does your husband do all day while your daughter is at day care? Katie.
I would not send your 3-year old daughter to live in LA with your grandparents. Moving away from you would likely be, at best, very confusing to her, and at worst, very traumatic. I would focus your effort on how to get your partner to step up and contribute to your household. Clearly, you cannot force him to do anything, but I would really look at what's going on in your relationship. Is he a parent to her at all? If he is not working (and frankly, even if he was), I don't think it's too much to ask for him to take over primary night-time and weekend parenting, including . Is he depressed? Will he go to couples counseling with you? Why hasn't he worked for 3+ years? Does he support your desire to go to med school?
All that being said, you will also have to find a way to be there for your daughter during this time. Forgive me for being blunt, but your first priority should be your daughter's well-being. It is very difficult for young children to be separated from their primary caregivers. Even though you will be busy with medical school, you can still tuck your daughter in at night and create a routine and special times to connect with her. Talk to other med school parents, if you can. On some nights and on weekends, you can have dinners with kids and study after they go to bed. You will have to find ways to balance your desire for academic/career excellence with being a good-enough mother. This may mean that you don't get as much study time as other students who are non-parents. But it doesn't mean that you can't make it work. daughter first
Our situation was in some instances similar: We had no reliable income from work or alimonies, and lived of student loans and well fare. My mother's partner was supposedly studying as well, but didn't finish any degree and only held occasional jobs. He wasn't much of a caretaker, either. My mother had to get a high school degree first before she started medical school. The whole ordeal took pretty much the majority of my childhood since I was 6.
The pros: I have a female role model showing me that ANYTHING is possible if you really want it. I was taught that lack of money should not stop you - there might be other ways. I learned that a woman can be independent from a man/husband no matter what the situation is. It is important to live your dream and live a fulfilling life. I learned to be very independent.
The cons: Even though I was at home with my mother while she was studying at home, we were not allowed to disturb her except for real emergencies (at least a broken toe). In my perception she never had time for us. I learned that living her life and fulfilling her dreams were more important than her children. I learned that hanging on to a loser (in my eyes, he was also alcoholic) who could do at least basic care taking was better than giving up her dreams. I learned to be independent by being forced to run a household at age 12, that is not healthy independence taught by good example.
I decided to give up a career and a 6 figure income in order to take care of my child. I don't regret giving up a corporate environment, and I am happy to be a SAHM, but I would definitely prefer to be less cash strapped and more independent (financially). But I know that I would prioritize my child over my career even if I was just starting to sort my options.
I am not suggesting to skip your dream of going to medical school. I would like to encourage you to find a child care situation close to you that will allow you to spend as much QUALITY time with your child as possible.
And it sounds as if you might want to have some honest discussion with your partner about the roles and responsibilities in your family. Good luck with everything
Being away from your daughter would be painful. Are you going to stay with this partner/father of your daughter? If you two separate, would there be more financial benefit / assistance available to you that would allow you to afford nighttime one on one loving care for your daughter? If you are not able to get an ideal childcare situation locally or are unhappy with your partner's method of caregiving (like he's being abusive), I would say definitely prioritize your daughter's safety and though you would miss her terribly and she would suffer in the short run, it is better to keep her safe and have her live with your parents until things settled down for you.
Also, just in case you haven't already contacted them, check into resources, advice from Bananas in Oakland, Contra Costa Child Care Council or similar organizations for your county. Is your daughter's daycare near med school. Will you be able to sneak out and give her a kiss on some days. One more thing. Try not to isolate yourself. Talk to other parents, other med students, friends, working parents, single working parents and perhaps a social worker type/counselor and see what other ideas might be out there. Don't lose hope. Put out your intentions and maybe a better solution will come along. Good luck. Wishing you the best
Hi, I hold BAs in Linguistics and French with Minors in Computer Science, German and Chinese. I'm 31 and have a 3 year old. I've lived all over the world, working mostly in teaching. I'm now a housewife. I would like to go to Medical School, and I'm not sure where to start. Should I get my pre-med work done at a community college, and then go from there? Should I be volunteering at the hospital in SF? I would like to be accepted into SFSU. Thank you! Ready for the next phase
One thing that stands out is the number of very stressful, life altering tests and applications that you take along the way (MCATs, application for med schools, Med school exams, then Step one, step two, and step three of boards, applications and interview for residency, then board certification which is also a several year long process. I passed all exams, BUT endured terrible stress and studying with kids/responsiblities was really difficult. Two, it is very expensive. You cannot work in med school. I remember feeling very discontent with being at an earning age and being a very poor student still. Three, what they require of medical students and residents is INSANE, and FYI I went to one of the 'lifestyle oriented, family friendly and benign' med schools. I remember feeling I had made a terrible error because being a mom and a med student or resident was simply incompatible. Four, it is hard. It is SO much information to learn. You will be next to 21 and 22 yr olds who have been science majors and the best students ever. You are just as smart, but make no mistake, it is hard for everyone. Five, it is long. In all, you'd be minimum of 42 before you even started to work, your child would be a teen ager already. You'd be in residency when your child was in middle school and that seems hard. In fact, all thru your child's life you will be stressed and taxed and occupied and tired and forced to commit to the hierarchy, drudgery and long hours to become an MD. I graduated from an 'easy' residency program in 2007 and choose a great humane field of medicine. I love what I do now, stayed married thru it all while raising two kids, BUT only made it thru because I had invested to much time and money to back out. I couldn't wait to be just a regular person with a regular job and finally take care of my kids. I could've been very happy a lot sooner in another field. Anon
You should also probably be volunteering at a hospital. I had spent two years as a health volunteer overseas before I started my post-bacc pre-med classes and was told that I should still volunteer in a hospital.
SFSU doesn't have a medical school, but UCSF does. I wouldn't get your heart set on UCSF this early though, as they accept fewer than 10% of their applicants.
Good luck! former post-bacc pre-med, now MD
Since you mentioned you had degrees in foreign languages, I wonder if you were ever interested in the hard cord science subjects during high school/college. They are really hard, and boring to a certain degree. I majored in bio a few years, was good at math, and physics; worse at organic chem; but far more excelled and interested in languages. I tried my luck with pre-pharm program and was bored to death; had to switch major into poli sci; then devoted years of my life to law school while working full time. I didn't have a kid during law school but found law school extremely demanding. I never saw my family much; didn't really have a life for years. Then the bar... I have a kid now and cannot see how a mother can go to med school or law school without leaving her child so many hours. However, I think you should take a few science classes first to see if you like them. You should not kill your dreams of a professional degree because of fear of not succeeding. You really don't want to spend the rest of your life wondering ''what if...?'' anon
Hi--I have had a realization that I regret not completing my
medical school prerequisites and attending medical school after
college. At the time it seemed incredibly overwhelming, and
that it would be so many years out until I would be a doctor.
Now I realize that it's been that many years out anyway--I'm 29
now with a toddler and a full time job with a software company--
and I really don't want to wait another 10 years and think the
same thing all over again. I had experience with a loved one's
illness recently and it really made me think about the world I
wanted to create for myself (and for others). It would take me
approximately 7 years (I think) to complete the prereqs, tests,
and medical school...And then comes residency. Does anyone
have any experience as a ''non-traditional'' med student (or
other similar major life/career change)? How did you swing the
finances? The time management? The children? How do you feel
about your decision?
Someday a doctor?
NP does not confer as much authority as MD, but certainly allows one to do some wonderful work in a wide variety of clinical settings. In many settings NPs work pretty autonomously, have presribing privileges, etc. It is a great path, in my opinion, and one that really emphasizes caring for the whole patient. Plus, when I watch the residents I'm training with slog through their 80-hr weeks for 4 years- well I know that some do it with kids, but it looks awfully hard to me.
As to being in an intense academic program and parenting - there is no question that it is tough. Most people in my program are not parents -- and think those who are are nuts to be doing it. The most important thing for me has been having a supportive partner who can pick up the slack when I have to study. It's not the hours away that are especially tough on me (certainly less than a full time job), it's having to study so much (and write papers, etc) at home. I've become a much more disciplined student than I ever was before; every naptime and bedtime I just have to head straight for my books.
But is it worth it? So far, yes. For me, I know that loving what i do makes a big difference in how I parent. In the big picture I am very very happy with my decision - it's just the day to day that can be tough sometimes. But a big additional plus to the nursing field is that as a female-dominated field it's a lot more family friendly than medicine. So it's reasonable to think you could have a great career and do it less than full time (or odd hours) so that you can be home with your kids more.
I'd be happy to tell you more if your interested. You can email me directly. Kathleen
He (and some of the friends mentioned above) were warned by doctors BEFORE med school that this better be the ONLY thing they can imagine doing - if not, they should do something else. We thought this rather dire, but 7+ years later, I would say the same thing to you. It is a very grueling road - long and unforgiving. I just missed my oldest friends' wedding because I could not do the traveling with the kids on my own and he could not get two days off. He was not around for the bulk of our daughters' first year, and we will see him very little this coming year. A very dear friend, one of the most socially conscious intelligent driven women I know has had the worst year of her life as a first year resident. She cares very little about taking care of others' needs anymore and seeks only to survive the next two years. Another piece of advice we heard is not to go into medicine because you love people, but becuase you love medicine/science. The people we know with this primary interest have enjoyed the process much more than the bleeding hearts (which is not to say that the science lovers do not also have great compassion and social concern!). All this said, my husband is one who could not imagine doing anything else and has loved it all so far, despite the sacrifices. He is one of those who primarily loves solving medical problems, but is also loved by his patients (lots of love all around :) He will MISS his kids over the next 3 years, and has missed having any outside life (including exercise) because of doing both kids and medicine at the same time (something else we heard; you have time for ONE other thing; reading, exercise, family...) But again, he could not and still can not imagine doing anything else - this is key. It is very hard to be the spouse/partner of a med. person in training; I am without him A LOT (he worked as many as 110 hours/week in med school), and take care of everything (kids, house) and miss out on many things I want to do because I have no support (if you move for med school and/or residency it takes time to find a support network, and you may be far from family, as we are). If you would like to talk to him, email us. Good luck with the decision.
After almost three years of farming our daughter to nurseries and daycare, we slowly realized that our daughter hardly knew us. We had too little time with our daughter, and were exhausted when we were home. Our kids (two of them by now) spent more time away from us than with us. We were missing the best part of being parents. We met several physicians whose kids were nannied full time, and were turning out troubled.
The money? Went straight to the med school loans and childcare.
We looked at each other one night and decided to call it quits. My wife quit her high-stress, high pay job. I backed down to half-time. With a great effort, we paid off the loans (ask a medical student about the loansharks that circle medical schools!).
We haven't looked back.
My wife still has her medical license and keeps up with her CME's, but she says she'll never work in a hospital again. Indeed, she points out that it would be malpractice for her to work since she hasn't done medicine in seven years.
Seven years? Yep -- it's been that long since she walked away from doctoring. What a difference in our lives: Low income, but low stress and we *know* our kids. We have plenty of time together. Heck, we cook our breakfasts together most mornings! Our days aren't tightly scheduled. Sure, we have our problems, but we've never missed a class play or picnic.
As an aside, my wife went out of her way to *not* get a license to prescribe heavy-duty drugs -- friends would hit her up for prescriptions. Then, too, she won't diagnose medical problems within our family. She's told me repeatedly, ''The doctor who diagnoses herself has a fool as a patient.'' And being a physician doesn't help much when you need medical care --last month we went to Alta Bates emergency room and had the same dreadful experience that everyone else has. Berkeley Dad
I didn't have my daughter until after medical school, so I can't comment on that part. But I just finished intern year (generally regarded to be the hardest year of medical training) and I've certainly survived. I don't feel at all like I've missed out on a year of her life. My entire life is working or being with my family -- no exercise, no social life to speak of -- but I can deal with this for a few years. Yes, I'm tired and sometimes I feel totally tapped out, but I still usually enjoy what I do. And don't forget, I'm talking about intern year -- your prereqs and first 2 years of medical school are classes and studying, fourth year of medical school is less demanding, and so you're looking at your 3rd year of medical school and residency being like what I just described.
Your partner needs to be completely on board with the plan or you're headed for trouble, because it will be very demanding on him/her. During some rotations in medical school and most of your residency you spend every 4th night away from home. My husband and daughter often come to visit me in the hospital those nights. It's very helpful to have extended family support. Probably all your choices around where to go to medical school and do residency will revolve around making it work for your family.
Obviously, it's an enormous investment. But if the payoff weren't greater, I wouldn't be doing it. It's just plain amazing work. You have a place of incredible privilege in so many people's lives, and every once in a while you get the tremendous satisfaction of really having an impact on someone. (I disagree with the person who said the ''bleeding hearts'' don't enjoy it as much as the scientists.) On a practical level, it's flexible work that you can do part-time or full-time, and it pays pretty darn well -- maybe not like a top lawyer or businessperson, but far better than most professions. There aren't very many careers that allow you to make a livable salary in this area doing part-time work that you're passionate about, but this is one of them.
Feel free to e-mail me if you want to talk more. Kate
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