Showing posts with label premed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label premed. Show all posts

Monday, November 9, 2015

MiM Mail: DO or MD school and motherhood

Dear Mothers in Medicine,

First of all, thank you for being so helpful and encouraging. When trying to decide whether or not to pursue medicine, I read just about every post and every comment on here! Now I am writing to pick your brains about MD/DO. There is a lot of information out there on the residency "merger," and the differences and similarities of the MD and DO approach.

However, I am writing to you because I want to know how getting a DO degree over an MD degree might impact my future specifically as a mother.

Right now I can either apply DO this cycle (the application season is longer) and start school in the Fall of 2016 or wait to apply next year to MD and DO programs and have more options, but start in the Fall of 2017. I am already 27, so starting sooner is very appealing to me, but I don't know how much my age should matter. Either way we will be having children while I am in medical school and residency.

Although I am pretty set on primary care, I worry that I could be wrong. Two years ago when I started this journey, I didn't think I really liked science --- I thought I just needed to get thru the pre-reqs so I could go into pediatrics or FM to provide care to rural and underserved communities. Turns out though, I LOVE science. For a few good hours I considered pursuing a PhD in biochemistry instead of medical school.

Now there is a small part of me that wants to keep my options open incase I fall in love with a specialty I don't even know exists yet, or if I decide to do research. But this --- always wanting to keep all my options open for as long as possible --- is one of my weaknesses and I don't know how much to indulge that part of me!

From reading all the posts on here that mention osteopathic medicine, it seems like a few regret their decision to go DO (momstinfoilhat and RH+) while a few (mostly students) left more positive comments. RH+ wrote in 2008:

"Don’t become a D.O. Right now you are sure that you are going to practice rural family medicine, this will change when you start rotating through different specialties. You are being told that being a D.O. will not affect your ability to get into residency. This is not true. You will seek to match in a competitive specialty, and it will be harder for you to get a spot. It will also make it harder to get a fellowship."

But, this was back in 2008. So I don't know if it is still true? I also saw someone mention that DOs have to do more away rotations in their third year than MDs? With the young children we hope to have, this could be frustrating.

A few physicians on here have mentioned taking time off to care for a newborn and doing research during their time off. Is this an option that is available to DOs? I ask because I haven't heard of any DOs doing it, but I like the flexibility that idea offers.

So, all this to ask, if going the DO route limits our choices later (in terms of a research year to care for a new baby or options for residency locations or job locations... which could limit access to family support), then maybe I should wait the extra year and try for MD while also applying to DO schools?

To those on hiring committees (MD and DO), have you or your colleagues ever passed over DO applicants in favor of MD applicants?

To DOs who are doing their residencies and DOs who are working: Did you feel limited in the match or when applying to jobs? Do you regret your decision to go DO? Do you feel like you have had to work harder to prove yourself as competent as those with MD degrees? Did you feel like your clinical training (years 3+4) was as strong? Can you think of any unexpected ways being a DO might have influenced you and your families lives?

Thank you so, so much for taking the time to read this. I really appreciate any help and advice you can share.

All the best,
Confused pre-med and pre-mom

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

MiM Mail: Taking the Plunge

Mothers In Medicine,

I am a married mother of 2 girls, 7 and 10. I work full time in the Information Technology, and am going back to school in the fall to complete my Medical pre-requisites.

I don’t remember not wanting to be a doctor – except maybe the phase where I was determined to be an astronaut. It wasn’t any one incident, or any driving force, just the knowledge that that was where I belonged.

Life has a funny way of getting in the way of plans. I struggled throughout my undergraduate degree with both depression and endometriosis, which meant I never managed to get the prerequisites under my belt. When I finally got those in control, life laughed again and I found myself a single mother to a beautiful girl. My program and parenting were not compatible, so I transferred out – determined to provide a stable life for my daughter. I met my husband, had another baby and went to work in a non healthcare field. It was fine. It put food on the table, clothes on my kids’ backs and a roof over our heads. We were able to take a yearly holiday, put money away for retirement and have the kids in competitive sports. I still thought about medicine, but it was what I considered to be a missed dream.

I made the mistake of taking a temp job in the healthcare field – just for a week to help out a friend. I was invited to come observe a surgery, and all of those feelings came rushing back. The closest I can describe it is the feeling I had when my children were first placed in my arms – I belonged there. Suddenly, I knew I had to go back to school and complete my missed dream.

For years I struggled trying to figure out how to get back into school. My husband and I couldn’t afford for me to quit work with two young children, and his support was limited. No one, not even him, understood why I would risk giving up a lucrative job in a stable industry, a good retirement plan, and a path up the corporate ladder. Eventually, this (among other issues) wore on both of us and we ended up separating.

Finally the stars have aligned. 10 years since I left the medical school path, 10 years since my first daughter was born and I am registered in fall classes. My husband and I have since reconciled, and he is now on board. The others in my life still don’t understand but are aware of the changes I am making. But I am terrified of the change. What if? What if I leave my career and don’t get into Medicine? What if I sacrifice my family in the process? What if we can’t afford it and I have to leave? What if I take this gamble and lose?

I imagine it as jumping into a lake. I’ve done my research, I know what the outcomes may be; now I just have to hold my nose, close my eyes and jump in. It’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time. For those of you who started medicine late, or after children - how do you take the risk?

Thank you, S

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Hello from CaliMed

Hello MiM!
I'm excited to be joining this fantastic community that has helped me tremendously from the time I started thinking about medicine to now, 12 weeks shy of starting my first year of medical school. A little bit more about me, my background is in finance, but after a few years on Wall Street I knew I was going down the wrong career path. After having my first daughter in 2011, I realized if I really wanted to go for medicine, I had to get on it. I am extremely lucky to have a supportive husband and thus started my post-bac when my daughter, SK, was 1. Because I was a finance major in college I had to take all the pre-reqs and although I've always loved school, I learned that studying with a toddler in tow was a completely different experience than my undergrad years. (Like that time SK accidentally locked me in the garage like a prisoner before my organic midterm...)

Now said princess is turning 4 in June and we are expecting another in a matter of weeks. It was my plan all along to squeeze another child in before the start of school, but the window was limited and tricky. At one point I was clearly delusional and considered being a "little bit" pregnant for the MCAT, but thankfully came to my senses. I am sad that baby #2 will still be tiny when school begins, but I know I am luckier than most to have the flexibility that comes with being a student.

I am really looking forward to sharing my journey through school with you all. I have to confess, I feel like quite a newbie - I've done the mom thing for a while now, but I've just started the medicine part. And with so many wonderful members in this community who are much more advanced in their careers than I, I am curious what others would like to see from me. Please let me know!

And now I will leave you with my brilliant plan for the next 12 weeks before I take the plunge into medicine:
1. Pack up house and move most of our stuff to new city.
2. Rent out current place.
3. Host fantastically awesome Rapunzel birthday party for SK at 38 weeks pregnant.
4. Pop out baby #2.
5. Move the rest of our stuff and drive down to med school.
6. Get situated (make sure SK likes school, find nanny (!), get to know area, figure out transition from life with 1 kid to life with 2, oh and unpack)
7. Start school and balance marriage, 2 kids and student-life like a boss*

* TBD. May need help with this one, but absolutely thrilled to be pursuing my dream.

Cheers all!

Edit: I wrote this post before I saw Cutter's post from yesterday. After reading it and all the comments below which seemed to offer a resounding and unanimous "no" to her question, I realize my post may sound slightly manic and also maybe naive. But I am honestly very excited for this new experience that lies ahead and think it would be wrong even, to make such a drastic change in my life and not put everything into it. I have so much respect for Cutter and all the women in this community who have taken the path that I am just now embarking on. And I would be lying if I said I was not affected by some of the comments. But I was also very encouraged by the fact that many of you absolutely love what you are doing. I know I have a lot to learn and I may feel differently down the line, but for right now, I can't look back and can only look forward and say yes. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

MiM Mail: Whose dreams come first?

My name is Jenny and I am 24. I am a single mother to a beautiful 6 year old and a handsome 5 year old. Their father is not really a part of the picture. I receive no financial support from him and he sees the kids once a week for about 8 hours.

I am a research assistant at an amazing lab and absolutely love research. I have planned on going back to grad school soon. The grad school where I'm located also has a med school and there is a MD/PhD Program. I have always dreamed of going to med school. It was my dream since I was 12. And even when I became a teen parent, I still knew I wanted to go to med school. But I never thought I'd had to go as a single parent, so I've gone a different path which has led me to research. As I start to prepare to apply my heart screams with such a passion that it becomes difficult for me to hold back the tears. Med school is where my dreams are. Research driven physician is where my heart is. It's what I've always wanted. But I'm a mother now and a single mother. The program is ideal because of the stipend. I cannot take 4 years off work to go to med school when I have children. But with a stipend I could get by. And I know I have to apply. Even if I don't get accepted, I have to apply. But if by some miracle I do get accepted would it be right for me to go? I have been in school for the majority of my children's lives. If I was to do the program, my kids would be adults when I finished. My daughter would be 19, my son going on 18. I would have spent my children's entire childhood in school. How is that fair to them? I would be so busy with school there would be no dating, no man to step up and be a step father. It would just be us with me always in school and studying. My kids will be adults. I'll be 37. And eventually that will happen anyways, but how much will we sacrifice if I kept going for my dreams? Isn't the mother supposed to put the child's dreams first? I don't know what to do. I feel either choice I make will break my heart. I would appreciate any feedback.

Thank you,

Friday, October 10, 2014

Guest post: Taking a year off before medical school

I found MiM while studying abroad, trying to decide between PA and medical school, and being thoroughly terrified of not being able to spend time with my future family if I became a doctor. Reading all of these amazing stories from mother doctors helped erase my fears. I just wanted to give back to the blog, if possible. Also, I thought there might be some other undergraduates out there who can relate. So, here are some recent thoughts:

Had anyone asked me three short years ago what I would be doing after graduation, I would have immediately replied, "going to medical school." After three long, but fun and enriching years at a small liberal arts college known for it's rigorous science reputation, I'm ready for a break.

How did I get from that young, enthusiastic 18-year-old to a 21-year-old who self-professes her exhaustion from school? How did I decide that I am probably going to delay motherhood for an entire year, since I'm planning on waiting to have a family until post-residency? (that was a pretty large factor in my thought process) No, I didn't have a horrible college experience. I didn't have to retake classes, or even get "lost" along the way. Honestly, I just grew up. Needing a break isn't something I'm ashamed of. In fact, as my aunt said, it's probably one of the smartest things someone looking at graduate/professional school can do. I realized I'll have one year in my 20s not in school-- whether I take a year off or not, so why not make it now? A year off will grant me the opportunity after 18 years of education to stop stuffing equations and facts into my brain and fit in some life experiences to look back on and utilize. I will be able to start medical school refreshed and ready to learn, not just going through the motions to add "MD" to my name.

So many people reply, "Oh," when I say I'm taking a year off. I practically have to convince them that I'm genuinely excited to have time to experience more of the world. I believe it's perfectly acceptable to do whatever is right for you, whether that's powering through, or taking a break! However, I think some people need to realize that we don't always need to be in such a rush to get done with something to move on to the next phase. Slow down and enjoy today because tomorrow may be completely different.

From a "traditional" college senior at a small liberal arts university in the Midwest who plans to become a pediatrician. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Stop scaring the "fresh meat"

I volunteered recently at a meeting for Latino high school, college, and medical students as a member of my hospital’s Residency Diversity Initiative. I had gotten the announcement a few months prior and realized I would be on a pretty straight-forward month with weekends off. I checked with the hubby that I could take about 3 hours during his prime studying time to volunteer and he agreed.

The students were engaging. The high school students asked silly yet endearing questions. One absentmindedly asked another resident and myself our specialties three different times because he kept forgetting what we said. He was sweet, but goodness, I hope his focus and attention span increase before starting college.

Several of the medical students asked very educated questions, ones that showed they knew where they were going. One particularly prepared medical student, dressed smartly in an off white blouse, flattering pencil skirt, and pearl necklace asked a series of questions that we answered. She thanked us and left. Then she came back later to chat some more. She began her new string of questions with “I don’t mean to sound, ummmm, superficial or anything, but even though I’m interested in all types of medicine, I am worried that if I go into Family Medicine instead of Internal Medicine that I won’t be able to pay off my loans.” I shared a quick, knowing smile with the Family Medicine resident sitting next to me and we began to talk to her about following ones passion. We also reminded her several times, indirectly and directly that regardless of what type of medicine you practice, each of us will be in the top 1% of US income-makers. The top 1%.

Yes I know $120,000 instead of $200,000 (in a surgical subspecialty) seems like a huge deal, but honestly, every single Family Medicine Attending the other resident knew and every single Pediatric Attending I know is living very well. Yes, they may have a ton of debt they are working to pay back, but every single one has a family that is well taken care of. Everyone I know has a nice house (mostly owned and not rented), a decent if not really really nice car. And none appears outwardly to be struggling to afford their basic needs. I apologize if these are material things, but that’s what she was asking about and we answered because it’s a very real concern.

And that’s the Attendings, not the Residents. Every Resident I know, including myself, lives in a nice apartment. Many Residents in my program own houses, not rinkey-dink jacked up houses, but really nice grown-up houses with nice yards. We can afford to go on vacations and we buy what we want at the grocery store including at Whole Foods (which my father-in-law refers to as Whole Check). My husband and I budget our limited money well and hope to buy a house in the first several years out of residency. And we are already well on our way to having my student loans paid off within 10 years using the income based repayment straight out of medical school. Don’t get me wrong, if we didn’t have my husband’s graduate school scholarships, our family of 3 with a single working adult (me), we would be very close to being eligible for public benefits (Section 8 housing, food stamps, WIC, you name it); some of our neighbors are on assistance now.

So, seriously, I know many of us including myself are in debt. And I know we need to do things to overhaul “the system” so that serving patients and saving lives is compensated in a common sense and equitable way. One that values innovative, smart approaches such as preventative care and comprehensive services. One that doesn’t cause very capable and compassionate students who are interested in our field to go running the other way as they eye the ever-mounting price tag. But even at the lowest-paying end of the spectrum, we all will make more money than the majority of our country. And if we help each other to become more business-savvy, we should never have to struggle to live well.

The medical student left smiling. I left more inspired. Hopefully we encouraged her to pursue what will ultimately make her the happiest so that she can bring her “best self” to work every day; she owes it to herself and to her patients. Yes, it’s a daunting task and the realities of practicing medicine in our country are scaring the crap out of many of us and our future colleagues, but again, we are still positioned in one of the best fields that exists. I am committed to reminding myself, my colleagues, and the “fresh meat” that this is the reality we find ourselves in. A bit daunting, but not too scary.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Guest post: A quarter-century moment

I turned 25 in May and my life started to shift greatly. Somewhere over the next couple months many of the things I thought were most important in life: education, career, financial stability, settling down with a partner, started to change. It’s not that they became unimportant, it’s that they hopped about my order of priorities and importance like jumping jelly beans. Here I am: living in Thailand, single, 6 months away from closing my Peace Corps service, with an English degree, and no real career or graduate school education under my belt. Fair enough. That’s a pretty standard place to be at my age. However, it doesn’t jive with the reality that blindsided me one day: “Holy moly, Batman. The thing I want most in life is to fall in love, get married and have children.”

Okay, so you say that’s a pretty normal thought for a 25-year old woman. No, not this woman. If you’d met me 1 ½ years ago at the beginning of my service you would have laughed hysterically if I told you that. I ran out of rooms full of children with an ice pack on my head and aspirin in hand. Not really, but I ran into hiding. Before you call me an evil monster, read on.

Maybe because my uterus has a mind of its own that nature bestowed it with, or maybe there are actually hormones in my body that function normally, or maybe Darwin was on to something when he talked about our biological drive to carry on the human race, I don’t know, but suddenly the only certainty I knew about my future was that I wanted a settled-down life that involved family, children, and a loving supportive wife. For years I had been in this mechanically-like driven determination to get to medical school. And here I am now reduced to smiles and tears in a classroom of adorable first-graders.

As a side note, other life influences surrounded this quarter-century crisis. At the beginning of June I went through a painful breakup with a woman I thought I was going to marry and settle down with. We dated for 3 years. I naively assumed it was a certainty because we’d planned our lives together and done everything short of propose. Many nights, what got me through each difficult day away from home was knowing that she’d be there waiting for me at the end of my service and we could start a family together. We were each others family. However, life and whatever Higher Power there is other that ourselves has a funny plan for us, so I had no choice to let go of all that when she decided I wasn’t the one for her. At first I felt devastated because I thought what I lost was this woman I loved more than anything and my hopes and dreams of settling down, getting married, and having children until one day it dawned on me: I haven’t lost the chance to get married and have children, it just means it isn’t with her. It’s at that exact point that I realized how incredibly important it is for me have that life for myself. I want those things, for me. Ladies and gentlemen, this was just short of a miracle (Dramatic you say? Talk to me about what I used to think about these things. Better yet, talk to my friends).

And then, I do believe, the first-grade girls I teach changed my life. Every morning I walked into the classroom and these young, 5-year girls screamed my name, walked up to me and wrapped their arms around my legs. My heart felt pretty raw and bare on those days and their sweet, simple love for me caused me to tear up a bit. Here I am, a foreign teacher they barely know, we hardly speak the same language (culturally or natively), and yet they are so eager to have me in their lives. All they want is to love and be loved. Yes, that sounds cliché, but its true. We try to over-complicate things in life when that’s what it all comes down to. I found myself just as eager to receive Monday morning hugs from these girls every week. They brightened up my life. I thought to myself, “I want this. Why did I resist so much before? What was I afraid of?”

Fast forward to today. I’m successfully 3 months and 3 days into my 25th birthday and life is strange. One day, after pursuing medical school since I was a junior in high school, I asked myself, “Is this what I want?” Ever since I can remember I have written the ending to things far before they even happened. I had a burning desire to figure everything out light-years before it actually happened. We call this living in the future. Part of me was afraid of living with the uncertainty of everyday life and seeing where it takes me, part of it was feeling the need to control everything so it doesn’t fall apart or fail, part of me was afraid that if I didn’t plan then I wasn’t headed anywhere in life. Until one day I realized that I MUST live with the uncertainties of everyday life because the present is where life happens. I also realized that I have to let go. Let go of control, let go of trying to fix things and settle into the way things are at this moment. As far as the last one, I have enough years of life under my belt to know that I never need to plan a thing and I’ll never allow myself to fail, no matter what. “If you can dream it you can do it,” may as well be my philosophy. However, this notion calls into question one small thing: the dream.

I reconsidered my final decision to go to medical school and turned it into an option instead of an absolute. I realized that I’d do myself justice to pursue experience in the healthcare field, seek out shadowing opportunities, and volunteer with hospice to see if this really was the life I still wanted for myself. The one big looming question, “Can you do it? Can you go to medical school, be a doctor, a wife, a mother?” Or maybe the real question is, “Can I do it?”

You know what, actually, I take that back. The question is not CAN I go to medical school. The question is not doubt. Of course I can; there are thousands of women before me who have shown us that it’s possible. The pivotal question, and the more terrifying one is, “Do I want to?” That’s what I’m struggling with. It’s “Do I want to be a doctor, a wife, and a mother? Is that the life I want for myself: being pulled in so many directions?” To answer this question begs me to let go of whatever plan I may have for the future. No really, Julia, let go. To take each experience everyday and let it shape me on its own. To live in the moment and follow what my heart says to me when the time is right. When it’s time to act, I’ll know it. If I don’t know it yet, I’m not there yet and I’d do myself a favor to keep enjoying the little things and following the path (as blindly as it may be).

I’m the only one who can answer this question. And maybe even then, there’s a bigger plan for me out there. I better just breathe, take a look around and enjoy this quarter-century moment. That big stuff? Careers, family, children, love, it will all turn out as it supposed to. I just have to have a little faith. For now, if you need me, you can find me in the present.

I’m Julia. I am 1 year and 8 months into my Peace Corps service in Thailand. I admittedly have no more answers to life than anyone else. Each day I wake up, go to one of two village schools and teach a mix of elementary kids and high school kids. They’ve taught me more about life than I have them.

Monday, April 15, 2013

MiM Mail: College freshman fears

Dear MiM:

I am about to finish my freshman year of college and have started to second guess my dreams of becoming a doctor. I know, it's early, but each step I take now is one step closer to my future. It's somewhat silly, and I have so much time, but my fears are haunting me:

1) Prerequisites for med school: I have yet to take chemistry at a college level. I am terrible at math and chemistry and fear that I don't have what it takes to even make it to med school (or in med school)
2) Nausea: I have somewhat of a weak stomach and am concerned about certain rounds. I know it's part of the job, but not EVERY job, right? Fainting or throwing up is probably not received well.
3) I am 100% positive that I am currently dating the man I will marry. Which means that marriage will come right before med school (and grad school for him) and, more than likely, babies to follow. I know that you women do it everyday, but it seems so daunting. Especially since we will more than likely have to move away from our families in order to both be able to attend a school in the same town. But on the flip side, I don't want to wait forever to have children, and even waiting until my early 30's seems too long to wait for my desire for a large family.

Thank you for reading this and attempting to ease a potential MiM's fears. Likewise, if you truly think I should not be in medicine due to any part of this, please be honest.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Guest Post: I won't be the first, and I won't be the last

"Are you crazy?" This question, or others of the same variety, that range from "are you SURE?" to "Is your husband okay with it?" describe most of the reactions I get when I tell people that I plan to start medical school this summer. While the reactions were a bit less intense when I declared my medical aspirations as a single woman during undergraduate school, the shock factor increased exponentially once I got married and pregnant, with a baby due this April before the summer I hope to begin.

One part of me wants to scream, "No! I'm not sure, I'm freaking out, and your skepticism and complete lack of confidence is not helping!" The sane, collected persona that answers, however, jokingly replies "I'm not the first and I won't be the last! I'm sure we'll be okay."

In an effort to quell the bubbling fears of anxiety that increase with each kick of my growing baby and doubt from my peers (interestingly, mainly from my parents' friends and less from individuals of my own generation) I look to websites like MiM and other blogs that discuss women with similar experiences. I take comfort from their humor, honestly, and tales of unimaginable successful balancing acts.

I look forward to joining the community of people that "are not the first and won't be the last." I am excited to pursue a career that I have a passion for and a deep interest in.  I hope that with all the changes in healthcare, I can still make my current ideal of a family physician or pediatrician a financial reality. I also hope that I find a voice to one day inspire those that are looking down the same path, the way that many other anonymous Mom MD's inspired and bolstered me.


I am an aspiring medical student, starting medical school in August 2012. I grew up in Los Angeles, but am waiting to hear where I'll be studying medicine next year. I am married to a wonderfully supportive man who has no idea what a wife in medicine will bring, but is up for the challenge. I am expecting our first child in April, and am excited to start on this crazy adventure.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guest post: My Story

I'm a 27 year old, married mother of one 3.5 year old son and live in Toronto, Canada. I'm not a doctor - I'm not even in medical school. But I want to be. Here is my story and the journey I’ve started on.

I've spent the past 5 years of my career feeling trapped and lost. I was doing well in the traditional sense. I got promoted, I passed the required exams for my CA designation (CPA equivalent in the US). I got good performance reviews.

But from the moment I accepted my job offer with a Big 4 accounting firm, I have been nagged with a sense of doubt. Am I making a difference? Am I adding value? Is it normal to have a constant feeling of dread when thinking about work? Am I proud of what I do?

At first I just ignored these feeling (and yet, even shortly after graduating and accepting my job offer I’d be browsing the medical school pages of various universities, already jealous of all those unknown people who would be starting medical school the same time I’d be starting my job as an audit associate). I reasoned that how can I know that this isn’t what I want to do before I start? Wondered if I was just infatuated with the thought of being a doctor, the way some people wish they could be a Hollywood star? In any case, I was never a quitter and thought I just need to give it time, until I understand more about my profession, until I got to deal with the interesting issues. This is the bed I made; now I should lay in it (and make the best of it).

But the years passed and the feeling of dread grew. I started to resent my job for keeping me away from my family (yet never once did I wish I could just be a stay-at-home mom). I wonder why I can't enjoy this job more, the way so many of my collegues did. I’d be incredibly envious of friends I’d meet who seemed to not only enjoy their jobs but feel a sense of purpose from them. And I dreamt the “what if I could go to medical school” dream all the time

Then one day I was having a chat with a friend of mine who mentioned how her sister-in-law had a similar feeling – she had just graduated from law school and was offered a position with a top law firm, where she had spent her past 3 summers articling. Days before she was due to start, she gave notice and said she was applying to medical school. Fascinated by her story, I thought, hm, maybe I could do this too! I reached out to her to ask her point blanc, if she thought I was crazy. I’m 27, I have child and a mortgage – not to mention nothing in my educational or extracurricular background to indicate any knowledge of medicine. She told me to go for it – that she had people in her medical school class who were older than me, and if this is something that I felt passionate about, I’d make it work.

After doing a bit more research, I also realized that I can actually apply to most medical schools in Canada without a science degree. Many require 1 or 2 university level science credits, but many consider the overall applicant and state that people of all educational and professional backgrounds are welcome to apply. Luckily I had very good grades both in high school and university. I’ve also lived in different parts of the world, am fluent in 3 languages and have managed to obtain my CA designation while juggling motherhood and wifedom.

So I decided to bite the bullet and try and I’ve officially embarked on this journey. I’ve signed up for a Biology course through an online university to help me get a couple pre-requisite courses that are required by some of the universities. I’ve perused books and blogs that focus on what a career in medicine means. I bought (and started to review) and MCAT study guide. I'm also hoping to negotiate going down to a part-time work schedule so that I can make room for volunteer work and to study.

However, as hopeful as I sound, I’m very aware of how hard this will be. How I will undoubtedly question my decision and how I will want to give up. But I also know that I may fail. Even if I do everything I can (take perquisite courses, do some meaningful volunteer work, do well on the MCATs) I may not get selected. I know how incredibly competitive this field is and I may not be the best candidate.

But I’m fine with that. This is my dream and I want to try. If I fail, I fail – but at least I won’t have to live with the regret of not trying.

-Kasia Smith

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Little Encouragement

I often feel like the odd man out. Here, I'm the wanna-be doctor mom. At school, I'm the 27 year old sophomore who has been married for almost ten years and has two kids. At the kids' events, I'm the young mom, 27 with a 9 and 6 year old (I'm often mistaken for the big sister). In parenting circles, I'm the mom with a medically-needy kid...nobody else is dealing with tube feeds, a half dozen specialists, bi-weekly therapies, and med schedules. With friends, I'm usually the odd one out on all accounts...our friends are just starting to get married for the most part, they are childless, and they are out of school. Sometimes I feel like I've done everything in reverse. I graduated at 16, got married at 17, had my first child at 18...I didn't figure out who I was or what I wanted to do until much, much later in life, and of course even that isn't typical or easy. When you stick out all the time, it is easy to feel like you aren't doing anything right. It is tough to be a premed student/mother of both a typical and atypical kid/wife/volunteer/friend/human and there is a lot of juggling involved. At times I wonder if I'm crazy to even be attempting this, but then a well-timed bit of encouragement helps restore my faith in this endeavor and my ability to see it through.

Math isn't my subject. It never has been. In grade school, math was the only subject I was allowed to make B's in. I chose my major based on the fact I only have to go up to Cal I...not Cal III like some other science majors. However, I made a 110 on the first exam in PreCal this semester AND my professor sought me out during class to try to poach me for the math department! She told me about a math major premed she knew who went on to do very well and now works in medical modeling. She said, "Not everyone is so gifted in math, you know!" I never thought I'd hear something like that!

I'm taking Cancer Biology this semester. It is a special topic class, which means it is a higher level course and it isn't always on the schedule. The hard pre-reqs are Bio I and II and Chem I and II, but on the first day, the professor said, "If you haven't taken Biochem and Genetics, you should definitely think about dropping." I haven't had either, but I stuck it out. We had our first exam a few weeks ago, a comprehensive midterm. I made 303 neon notecards for it and studied a lot. The night before the exam, we had tickets to the Rodeo. The kids really wanted to go and I didn't want to disappoint them, but I knew the exam was going to be tough. I studied very hard that week and opted to go to the Rodeo with the family the night before the exam. After we got home, I hit the books again and everyone else went to bed. The next day in class, I was the first one done with the exam (which was mostly short answer and essay, no multiple choice). I re-read my exam a few times and submitted it. I hate being the first one done...did I do really well or really poorly? Ack! The following class period, the professor handed back exams. She pulled me aside and said, "You're the one who finished in 45 minutes, right? And you got an A?! That is the best use of time I have ever seen!" Then she said, "Aren't you the one who emailed me about your daughter having pneumonia a couple of weeks back?" I nodded and she went on to say, "And you're doing all of this with kids at home? I'm so impressed at how well you are balancing everything!" That kind of recognition felt really amazing, especially because prepping for that exam and spending time with the family had been a bit of a balancing act.

I went out to dinner with my best friend (who is also my sister-in-law) last week, and she said, "I always use you as an example all of the time when I'm talking to people." I looked at her quizzically and ask, "What kind of example?" She said, "When I'm talking to people and they say they can't do something for any they are unexpectedly pregnant and can't finish school or whatever. I tell them about you and how you didn't to things in the 'right' or 'normal' way, but that you are premed now and doing really well with everything." That might be the highest praise, because it came from someone who knows me almost as well as I know myself.

It is amazing the effect a few encouraging words can have on your outlook and commitment. I hope that at whatever stage of this game you are at, you have people cheering you on and helping you see how well you are doing in the various aspects of your life. If there is one thing I've learned, it is that this kind of life is a circus and all the MiMs I know are extremely gifted jugglers. We all deserve a round of applause every now and then.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, November 22, 2010

MiM Mailbag: Post-bac pre-med programs for mom of 3


  My name is Crystal and I am currently an undergraduate student at UCLA. I have 3 daughters, 6, 4 and 8 months. I also have a husband. I will be graduating in June 2011 with a double major in Anthropology and African American Studies.

  As a "career changer," I am currently looking for the best pre-medicine post-bac program that will lead me to pursue medical school. I have a deep passion for medicine and currently I cannot find ANYONE who could help me (even here at UCLA). I feel very lost going through this process right now, because to most people that I have talked to (especially counselors), my situation is very unique.

    We currently reside in the family housing at UCLA and my children attend the day care/school here as well. I guess my problem is that I am trying to find a program that offers acommodations to families (housing, preschool, scholarships/financial aid etc...)

  I came across a few post-bac programs (Drew, USC, Temple, Harvard) that I think would be a good fit for me, but I am trying to make sure I can find one that will ultimately be good for my family as well. I don't mind relocating. I just need some direction, especially because I have a family, I will be making this choice for them as well.

Do you know of any resources that could help me with finding the right program?

Thank you very much. Your website inspires me a lot. I had no idea that there were so many women going through the same exact thing that I am facing right now.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Start of Something New

In a less than a week, I will be a full time university student for the first time ever. I'm 27, I've been married for over 9 years, and I have an 8 year old son and 5 year old daughter, but somehow this milestone still feels enormous.

My husband and I are both transferring to the university after many years of on and off attendance at our local community college, interrupted by marriage and child birth and sudden medical issues with our youngest child. He is a criminal justice major and I am biological and physical sciences major, working steadily to complete my premed requirements. Last semester he and I alternated nights in evening classes during the week, and on Saturday I spent the day in Biology II. Add in his full time job and my volunteering at the hospital, and we were like two ships that passed occasionally to hand off the children and their information and we generally managed collapsed into the same bed at night, except when KayTar (my youngest) was sick and demanded his place in the bed.

This semester is promising. He is able to complete the remainder of his degree online, and I am finally able to take day classes. We may have some semblance of a normal family life for a few months! KayTar will be starting Kindergarten, which means both of our kids will be in school for full days. KayTar has a slew of special medical needs (that are mostly well-controlled at this point) and gets sick frequently, but my mother has agreed to keep her when she is home sick from school. She knows how to tube feed her, check her urine for ketones, test her glucose levels, and administer her medications. She knows her favorite books and television shows. She is one of KayTar's favorite people and I know they will be fine. And yet? I'm nervous and I feel a little bit guilty. I've been KayTar's primary care giver, in sickness and in health, ever since we realized things were not quite right with her. Stepping away from that, even in a small way, is going to be a bit of an emotional adjustment for me. KayTar is already excited about spending her sick days with my mother!

Our schedule is still a little bit wild; shared drop off and pick up from the kids' school, driving to and from downtown to get to my school, volunteering at the Children's Hospital, volunteering at the local free clinic, volunteering at the kids' school, shadowing physicians, baseball and cub scouts for BubTar, dance and twice weekly therapies for KayTar, along with interspersed appointments with her various doctors...hopefully we don't have any ER visits or urgent surgeries this semester like we did last semester! It is going to take a lot of teamwork to make this work, but I think it will be worth it. Wish us luck!