Monday, October 27, 2014

MiM Mail: Advice for a MiM-to-be

Dear MiMs,

I have to start by saying that I love that this exists, and I truly appreciate every post on here. I'm a senior in college currently in the process of applying to medical schools all over the country. I have a loving, wonderfully supportive boyfriend on track to becoming a nurse next year. I'll call him J. (Side note: he's not bothered by having a "lesser" career than me, he doesn't see it that way. Being a nurse allows him to pursue other passions that he wouldn't have time for as a doctor.) We have been together for years, and are planning on getting married and having kids down the road, but not just yet (we're young!!!). J will likely go back to our hometown for the year after graduation, and while I hope to end up at school there as well, I may be anywhere. J plans to move to wherever I am, once I'm settled in, though we may be apart for quite a while. I get a lot of advice from people with no experience in this arena, so I figured it was time to ask some who actually know what they're talking about... Is it crazy to get married in med school? Assuming an ideal world, when is the best time in med school/residency to have kids? Is there a best time? Right now I want to be a pediatrician, but many people (often well-intended, but lacking expertise) recommend dermatology, pathology, anesthesiology, etc., for better hours. For all I know, I'll love those when I try them, but my heart is set on peds right now. Has anyone sacrificed the preferred career option in favor of more time with kids? I know I'll want lots of time with mine, but I don't want to feel like I'm not living up to my potential. The work/home balance seems to be a constant and changing thing, but I'm willing to figure it out!

I hear criticism from all angles about my desire to be a mother and a physician, as well as my interest in primary care, and I would love some encouragement. J is supportive, but still a 21-year-old guy, so he's not always the most helpful... No need to sweep the bad parts of MiM-ing under the rug, just point me in the right direction to find a handful of great parts!

Thanks for being such an inspiration to this MiM-to-be!



  1. Hello, I am a MiM and a pathologist. I got married right after college, as well, to my college sweetheart. My husband went into an equally demanding career but we both made sacrifices when appropriate for the other's career. We waited until after medical school and residency to have children and that was the best decision for me. While I appear to be in a less demanding field of medicine (Pathology), it's still my husband who does most of the child care for our three children.

    The bottom line is, no matter what field of medicine you go into, it's still medicine and will be demanding no matter what. Pick what you like and just make sure you have a supportive spouse on board who is willing to do the majority of the child care. Or you can switch on and off. Like I said, right now I am growing my career and my husband does most of the child care. But I don't think it will always be like this. Later I anticipate slowing down and maybe working part-time, and my husband can grow his career.

  2. I married my college boyfriend during my third year of medical school. He was in grad school in CA and I was in med school in NY. I moved out to CA nine months after our wedding and he continued to spend months in the field for his PhD and post-doc work - we'd been married for five years (and together for eight) before we lived together for 12 months straight. Worked for us because we made it work and we learned how to talk to each other.

    For a variety of reasons (mostly his work, not mine, and he's not in medicine) we didn't become parents until we were 39. I think we could have made it work when I was in residency because my residency was very supportive for the era (I finished med school in 1986). I'm an internist. There is no "best time". There's the time that works for you, and you can make it work as long as you invest in the relationship and keep the lines of communication open. You'll need those communication skills to be a good doc, anyway :)

  3. My husband and I married in medical school and had a child during our residencies. Now, I am an attending anesthesiologist at an academic hospital and he is currently a chief resident in radiology. While we both have "lifestyle" specialties, it certainly does not always seem that way. Both of us work about 60 hours/week and often work late, so we do need someone to help us with childcare. It is not uncommon for me to go 2-3 days without seeing my son as I go into work before he is awake and I am home after bedtime. The trade off is that I have most weekends free. My point is: do not pick a specialty based on its "less demanding" reputation as even these specialties do not have typical hours like other jobs. Pick whatever you love doing and you will be happy. In order to spend more time with with your family when you are not at work, get outside help with household responsibilities and childcare. Work/life balance in medicine will always be a challenge, no matter what specialty you choose and no matter what your spouse does. There is no "best time" to get married or have children, but you will always make things work whenever it happens.


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