Sunday, March 28, 2010

Med school with kids

I am a pre-med student (planning to apply in 2011). I am married and I already have two children, who will be no younger than 3 and 5 when I start medical school. I see that most people waited until residency or after to have children, but obviously that's not an option for me. Did anyone else go through medical school and residency with children? Do you regret it? Are you glad you did it the way you did? Do you have any advice!


Thanks,
Hannah

Hannah,

Good luck and good for you. I am just finishing up a research fellowship, and I will be returning to join the class of 2012 at my medical school. I was originally in the class of 2011, the year I hope you get in!

When my classmates ask me when I think they should have kids, I tell them all "Before you get into medical school, and then wait until they're potty trained and sleep through the night." Of course, most of them don't have that option. I am mostly kidding when I say that, but it worked for me, and I hope it works for you.

I actually wrote a guest post with advice for parents in pre-med, recently (I am squeaky brand new as an official contributor! Whee!) I especially like #4 Don’t overestimate or underestimate the understanding of your classmates, professors or administrators when it comes to your kids and #5 Don’t put your education last in your house.

I was less alone than I thought I would be. There were at least half a dozen fathers in my class, and more than a few mothers. We have three single moms in our class. I sat next to a grandmother for my whole second year. We all make it work in different ways.

This research fellowship has been a blessing. It gives me an extra year to spend time with the kids, and I can learn from my classmates who are now a year ahead of me about the logistics of rotations, so I can plan as much as possible. Mornings are going to be rough.

I felt very grounded by my family and children the first year of medical school. I saw many of my childless classmates struggle with loneliness in the beginning. It can be a grueling transition, especially if you have to move to a new place. Having home and children to go home to can be a blessing, not a weakness, sometimes. It does make applying to programs, both for medical school and residency, a bit of a challenge. My first official post (coming soon) will be on having children while looking into away rotations and the residency match.

19 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more with the above comments. My children were 2 1/2 and 5 when I started med school and it was very good timing. I had lots and lots of help from my husband who worked only part-time in a flexible-hours job. We ate a lot of rice and beans and barely scraped by financially, but we lived in Iowa City, where living is inexpensive and the med school is great. Residency was easier, too, since the kids were at school and could get their own breakfast, dress themselves, etc. It wasn't perfect or easy, but I think it was probably easier than having a bay in med school or residency.

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  2. YAY! I am so glad there are more moms out there who agree with me that the best time to have kids is BEFORE medical school!

    Foodie, I can not wait to read your future posts since we are in the same boat, but I am a year behind you. I think I might step out for a year too and do a masters so I will be two years behind you.

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  3. One of my favorite ped-path attendings had her two kids before medical school. She had the top score in many of her med school classes, and is now a world-renowned researcher in her field. She is so well-balanced, I was envious.

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  4. Thanks, y'all! I am actually the author of the post, but somehow I was signed in as "foodie" since I have a mostly dormant food blog on this network, too. I am going to try to get that display name thing straightened out.

    I have a lot of respect for the moms who have infants in med school or residency. I took quite a few extra years to do my pre-med in order to manage with the infancy years. They can be quite demanding.

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  5. OK, IndyMom, I fixed the display name. Foodie = MomTFH. Thanks for alerting me, even if it wasn't intentionally:)

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  6. I completely agree that having kids BEFORE med school is definitely the way to go! I am finishing up my first year of med school and I have 3 children, ages 8, 6, and 2. My husband stays home with the kids and we also barely scrape by. But I feel that I have a benefit of stablity and support that many of my med school friends do not.

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    1. Hi, what was you and your husbands financial game plan? I am interested in going back to school and will need my husband to be with our kids who are 8 and 6yrs old. We would also have to move 3hrs away from home. Any info would help!

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  7. I had my first 4 weeks before med school started (hmmm - perhaps not the best timing) and my second right at the beginning of third year (ditto!). That said, I felt more grounded and supported than I think many of my classmates did, and I wasn't the only parent in the class. Overall, things were fine and I'm certainly happier having done it in med school than residency.

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  8. The number one student in my med school class was a single mother w/ 3 teens (2 in HS and one in junior high). It's definitely doable.

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  9. Im glad to see that so many other single moms are able to complete medical school! I have to say that I'm thinking about doing a PA program or nursing becuase of the LONG hours of school. I also wondering about what a work week is like for a dotocr and do you still have time for family! I'm 28 and I have FOYR boys ages 11, 9, 4, and 10 months. I'm a senior in undergrad majoring in public health. I was thinking about getting my MPH so by the time I apply my youngest will be in head start (three years old)! I dnt know what to do I feel so confused! I just dnt want to miss out on any of my kids activities, however if accepted into med school I think I could multitask because I have done so thus far although its been a tough road!!!

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  10. Thanks for sharing! I am 25 and a pre-med student. I have three beautiful daughters ages 4, 2, and 5 months. I plan on starting med school when the baby starts school, so I found your post very encouraging! I hope I can still be an active part in my kids' lives and somehow make it all work! Luckily I have an amazing husband who works full time and goes to school full time so I can stay home with the girls. He is even putting dental school on hold until I am done with residency! I agree with anon, motherhood has definitely taught me to multi-task, so I think I'll have an advantage in med-school! Thanks again for the inspirational post!

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  11. Wow. I'm speechless. I'm 23, single mommy of 1. I have raised her so far in discipline and routine, she knows how to dress, clean after herself and sleeps all night long starting at 8pm. I currently hold a full time job and recently started considering a medical career. I have been involved in the field already, and there is nothing I love more than being assertive about a patient's diagnosis, taking vital signs, performing CPR or drawing blood. However, like many of us, I fear 2 things. 1, the time that i will not have to share with her, and 2, i always hear about brilliant students getting into med school and that can be a bit intimidating. Do i have a passion? I sure do. All this comments have been so helpful and encouraging. Not to mention the advice of those around me who wish they had my age so they could do it all over and pursue their dreams agains all odds. Thanks everyone!

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  12. Im 21 with 2 little girls 3 & 1. i also have one on the way. i have always had a deep passion for medicine, but im scared to pursue this career afraid my kids might feel neglected. i dont have a husband or family to help me.i plan on going to school this summer for nursing first.IF and when i do get through nursing school i wanted to go further.i no it will be rough & challenging but i never back down from a challenge but i feel as if my kids should come first.. im very nervous & scared.but i no that if i do go to med school my kids may look at me and see their mother working hard for what she wants and so i can provide a better life for them.i would really like some advice and opinions please :)

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  13. I am married and have a two month old baby girl. I turned 28 this past January and i have been a nurse for three years. I am big on education and i love science yet cant make my mind on which way to go. I love medicine however, i jumped into nursing school so that i could get married, start a family and would procede to med school. However, i am confused about all the other avenues in nursing where i can becone well off, like becoming a CRNA which is much faster than MD. Yet i am afraid that if i don t pursue my dream i will regret it one day. Congrats to all the moms and dads who
    Are courageous enough to pursue your dreams inspite of all the odss against you. Generativity vs. Stagnation is very impprtant in my stage of development so medical school comes after parenthood for me. CONGRATS TO ALL THE MOMS AND DADS ONCE MORE!

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  14. Hi, I'm kind of in the same predicament. Due to certain circumstances, I'm only now starting my adventures in medical school (applying for fall of 2014). I'm currently 30 with no kids. My husband and I would like to start trying but we both have reservations about the prospects of starting medical school with a baby. Quite frankly, I don't think it will bode well for me if I show up to an interview 8 months pregnant either. Can anyone give some advice (or encouragement)? Obviously, the best-case scenario would either be to have started med school when I was younger (can't do anything to change that now) or to have already had kids that are older (can't do anything about that either). I've been on several blogs that all but crucify women (or men for that matter) for having children while in medical school. Is there hope for someone with less than desirable circumstances? All the nay-saying probably isn't going to change my mind, but I'd like to think that I'm not completely out of it (my mind, that is).

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    1. Hey Emily! I just wanted to let you know that we usually do not get individual notification of new comments on old posts. For some reason this one showed up in my inbox. Not sure of the ins and outs of group blogging. I know that I have asked KC about it before, and it is still a mystery to me. I bird dog old posts for about two weeks to respond to comments and then quit. I think you should have kids when you want to have them and work around med school. The first two years, in mine at least - they are changing and I am 39 now, were intensive studying years. Many plan for babies fourth year b/c it is light and easy. I do know of a pathologist who had babies in year one and two and she was at the top of her class. I think you should send KC, head of blog, an e-mail so she can post as MiM Mailbag post and you will get lots of good, thoughtful advice. Good luck!

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  15. Hi all! I am in the UK and planning on applying for Med school in the fall of 2014 when both my children (aged 4 and 1) will be in school. As supportive as I have been with my husband and his career he is not interested in mine. I have wanted to do medicine for a long time and now at the age of 28 (30 when I start) I feel like I am mature enough and determined enough to achieve my dream. My husband does not share this view and seems to want me to continue working jobs where I can be at home to support him and his ambitions........ I don't want to cause us issues as I know the commitment will need to come from both of us to ensure I get through med school and still have a marriage. He knew I was ambitious when I met him so I just don't know what to do anymore! I hope you are all successful and I hope my husband can be supportive and help me realise my dream :-) Kelly Lee

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    1. Hey Kelly, as I told Emily above, I am getting that you commented in my mail somehow but that doesn't always happen on old posts. I encourage you to write a letter to KC to post as a mailbag letter if you want advice from more people. My advice is go to counseling now to work on these issues, they won't go away when you start school but only get worse. I am a divorced MiM, single mom, who had a husband (and now good dad and stepmom) who is still a doctor. Two professional parent families are tough and need a lot of support, even when everyone is on the same page. My problem was that my ex supported my career but wasn't available to help with the kids, which I had in residency, and it stressed our marriage to its breaking point. I sometimes wonder if early counseling would have helped that, but I've not regrets as I am happy in life now. Good luck to you.

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  16. Hi there,
    Though I know this is "mother in school" blog, I find it interesting to see this many people out there attempting this tough career path. I'm a father of two, and expecting a third in 6 months. I'm seriously thinking about going back for medicine. I'm a hospital pharmacist right now and the sole provider for my family. I don't expect this situation to change in the foreseeable future. By my estimate, I would have to at least keep a part time job to keep our finance straight. How doable is it while in school? What about time for family? Thanks much for any advice.

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