Hey Mothers in Medicine! First I would like to say how much I have enjoyed reading your blog. I found it about 6 months ago and I find myself reading through posts weekly. The writers have so much great insight and encouragement for women in the medical field. I have a question that I would love to ask on the blog!
I am 21 and a senior in college. I am also just recently married to my wonderful, loving, bright husband who I met my freshman year. He is 22 and in his senior year of college as well. My husband and I are both biology majors and will be graduating in May 2015. On top of that we are both athletes at our Division 1 University and got married this past summer. My husband has already applied to medical school for the coming year and we are waiting to hear back from schools once they start reviewing applications. I entered college as a Biochemistry major, wanting to pursue medical school (or at least I thought I did?)
Around my sophomore year of college, I began to feel a lot of unrest as to what career path I was going to choose. Medical school seemed so daunting and like it would hinder my ability to be the future wife and mother that I had the desire to be. I felt pressured to pursue the absolute highest degree (medical school) or that I would disappoint my family. I now see that they were/are just encouraging me to follow my dreams and pursue my highest potential (but still it can feel like pressure, you know?) I have always had a strong passion to help and serve others, love international mission trips, and volunteering in my community. One of the biggest reasons why I wanted to pursue a career in medicine in the first place was so that I would have a skill that I could offer to help others in need, whether in the US or abroad. But when I began to sit down and really think about my future, as a wife, and mother (we hope to have a big family and adopt!), I really began to feel anxiety about medical school. I grew up in a home where I was in daycare from 3 months old, my mom was a lawyer, and always working, even staying up until 3 am to get work done to provide for me and my siblings as a single mom. I love my mom with all my heart but I learned from her and my childhood that I want to be able to have more time and emotional energy to invest in my children, and my husband.
I began to think about nursing school instead, and even PA, but I just didn't feel peace about either of those paths. I felt like I wanted the knowledge and ability to care for others to the best of my ability, and the autonomy to be able to make decisions and have flexibility in my schedule, and just felt like I couldn't reach my potential as a nurse or PA. (I love nurses btw, my sister and best friend are both nurses). So, I bounced around from major to major for a semester, even looking in to speech pathology and special education... but something about the medical field just has a place in my heart. The two paths that I am now trying to choose between are NP and MD.
After a lot of soul searching, prayer, and talking with my husband, I am seeking your advice on a career path between Nurse Practitioner or Medical Doctor. I am interested in primary care. My situation is a little unique, because I am married in college and my husband is also pursuing medical school, and also has the potential to be drafted as a professional athlete (he was drafted this past year but declined to finish his undergrad education first). We have a lot of "unknowns" in our life right now. I want to be with my husband, support him in the path he chooses wherever he may go, and start a family in our mid to late 20s. But I do not know what door will open for him or us in the next year. I want to be there for my children and have time to spend with them. I want to also have the ability to contribute to our family income, and heaven forbid if anything happened to my husband, to be able to provide.
Right now I have applied to accelerated nursing programs (BSN) in the same areas as my husband's potential medical schools. The benefit of NP for us is that I could start making money after a short 12 month BSN program (working as an RN, relieving some of the potential financial stress of his medical school), and could move anywhere with him and work if he does play his sport professionally. I can also continue my education, either during or after starting a family, and can even do part time DNP programs which I think would allow me to have more time at home/to support my husband and better manage our debt (we will have no debt after undergrad but will have to take out loans for grad school). One more benefit to having the training of a nurse, is that those skills translate really well and are useful in all areas of care which would be great for medical missions, or even working with my husband later in life.
If I chose to pursue medical school, I would have to take a few more classes (could finish them all in 1 summer) and apply for the following year (starting in 2016). That would mean I wouldn't graduate medical school until I am 27, IF I get in my first try, and then a 3-4 year residency. So 31 before I'm really working). I would love to be completely autonomous, have the ability to set my own schedule, and have the knowledge and skill set that comes from medical school to provide excellent patient care. Also, if I wanted to work part time later in life, it would still provide a great salary, giving us the ability to give generously, travel overseas, adopt, provide for our family, etc. If we both go to medical school, however, we would be up to our ears in debt. I am also worried that medical school would make it very difficult to be have children in the first place (in my mid-late 20s), and be involved in their lives. But, I can't predict the future and when God might bless us with children, so I try not to get too ahead of myself. ;)
The question I have is, are there any pros/cons to NP and MD that I haven't thought about? Do NP's feel like they are well-respected among medical professionals and patients, have autonomy and flexibility, and the academic background they desire to provide excellent care? To MD's, do you feel like you have the ability to be there for your children/support your husband during and after medical school? Do MD's think they would be satisfied with NP, or wish they had chosen the NP route to primary/family care? How is the care they provide different (patient interaction, knowledge, skills, etc?) How is debt managed during and after NP and MD school? And lastly, how did your husbands feel about your schooling/work life? My husband is so supportive and wants me to pursue the career path that will make me the happiest, but I just really want to know if medical school (or DNP school for that matter..) had an affect on you ability to love and support your husband?
I want to be very wise in the decisions I make now, because I know that they will affect the rest of my life, my family, my career, and the people I care for. I hope to be able to find a way to serve God, love my husband, be there for my kids, and provide excellent patient care. Or is that all too much to ask?? ;)
Thanks so much! I hope my question gets chosen!
MiM Mail: Two doctor families
MiM Mail: Regret going into medicine?