August 19, 2002 at 8:27 pm #89637
Wanted to introduce myself, finding all your stories so inspirational. I am a 29 year old UK medical graduate, mom of two kids, a 6 year old boy and a 3 year old girl. I’m in San Diego right now, but my husband is in the Navy and so we move all the time. My son has just been diagnosed with anxiety/? PTSD and has not been in school for a year and special ed dept here is very slow in providing us with useful support. So I am 24/7 mom to him right now, and itching to do my USMLE, now 4 years out of school and forgetting it all fast!! Seems so complicated getting school set up so I can study ( my son is difficult at home and I have no friends or family able to watch him for me in the day.)
Thinking about moving back to UK, only problem is my husband can’t just leave the Navy and be with me and we have already endured a total of 5 years seperation during our marriage to get this far! I met him one year into my 6 year medical school program, and had my son in my 4th year. I came to US after graduation, then had a rough pregnancy with my 2nd child. When she was 9 months old my husband went to Japan alone for 18 months. We could have gone, but I decided to take kids to San Diego and try and get settled and into residency. Childcare didn’t work out but still held out hoping son would start school and I could go to Kaplan and blast through exams. Now that isn’t going to happen and I am so confused about what to do. Sounds so silly in the scheme of things, but medicine was so much a part of me, and I struggle to be the wife and mom I want to be without that aspect to my life. I feel like I am bashing my head against the wall trying to overcome constant relocations, school issues, etc with only my husband to help here, and the US medical system is, understandably, not particulary willing to help foreign grads. Hard for me to deal with ( in UK med. school fees are paid by government and once you are qualified there is huge incentive for government to keep you working, so lots of flexible training options etc. I am spoiled but I felt so wanted back in UK, + I have family and friends and we still own a home there) Easy decision until you factor in that my husband is 5 years from retirement which means income of 50% current pay. His field is specialised at this stage in his career, he’s older than me, 38 and I doubt if there are any suitable jobs for him in UK. If he did want to leave it would be a 2 year process to get out, then he would be leaving with only 3 years to go until he gets all the retirement benefits. He is suppportive of me, but obviously unwilling to give up all he has worked for. His retirement income would be security for our kids- both of us are from very large families with not so large incomes and financial stability is important to us. My income in UK as a doctor would be less than it is here so if I was working in UK and paying for childcare I would just about break even for first few years.
I’m kind of caught between being a lonely “single mom” but working doctor in the UK and being a frustrated SAHM here. Would really appreciate advice and support from you all.August 20, 2002 at 7:55 pm #89639ladysurgParticipant
Have you thought about joining the Navy? I did my residency in the Navy and it was the best thing I did. I met my husband in the Navy and he retired and I got out. While I was active duty they also had childcare at the hospital but I am not sure how that works for older kids. Look into it. MicheleAugust 22, 2002 at 7:32 pm #89641glennvallyParticipant
You probably know this already, but here goes…If you have your son designated as an “Exceptional Family Member”, the Navy may make some concessions for you such as: trying to get your husband duty in areas where you have a good support system, finding and paying for special schooling or childcare, and certainly counseling or therapy (whatever’s appropriate). As a Navy wife, I know how hard it can be to sit on the back burner while your husband’s career is #1, but the Navy really is trying to make families more of a priority in order to retain good sailors. I suggest you take the matter in your own hands, find a program you want your son in, then get the Navy to pay for it. If you use your son’s welfare as an excuse, rather than YOUR career plans, you should be able to find some kind of school or program to get him into which will take the strain off of you. This advice may not help you with your career plans, but you sound like you’re at the breaking point!
ValAugust 29, 2002 at 12:58 pm #89642MurphParticipant
I currently live in London and have been considering going to med school here. Is it very difficult to get residency in the US then? Are the boards different in the UK? Would I have to re-take them in the US? What school did you go to? Which schools would you recommend I look at?
Thanks for your help.
Jessica MurphyAugust 29, 2002 at 8:36 pm #89644
Medical school would be quicker in UK, 5-6 years after high school compared to about 8 in the US. Also if you are a UK resident your fees may be paid by UK government. You have to take USMLE exams to apply for residency here, US will not accept UK degree unless you have also taken these USMLE exams. I think it depends so much on the area, I live in San Diego and I have been told that the local teaching hospital has so many outstanding US applicants for residency programs that they practically never take any foreign grads. I know of one exception, he had worked in the UK for 6 years, then done about 7 years research here and then was allowed to start a residency!So he duplicated a lot of his training. It is very easy to get a job after training in the UK, basically they only train as many doctors as they need, so there are always enough jobs.
I went to St. Andrews for preclinical and transferred to Leicester for clinical years, I highly recommend both. Leicester was a very friendly supportive school with excellent clinical teaching, I believe it has now expanded to include Warwick too. Course has changed a lot in the 4 years since I graduated, much more clinical exposure from day 1. Depends what you are looking for-a research career/leaning towards GP type work etc. I would also recommend not going too far from home/ friends family etc. In 5-6 years something happens to everyone, pregnancy in my case!! depression/flu during exam week/ exam failure etc. and it is good to have support available to get you through those times. London school are good, but tend to have more mature students and not so much campus life. Might find yourself living in a bedsit. Other schools you’ll have university accomodation and make non medic friends too.
Good Luck to you!
ClareAugust 30, 2002 at 8:29 pm #89646MurphParticipant
Thank you so much for your reply. I’m 25 and my husband I just moved here from New York about 9 months ago. And we really wanted to stay for several more years. So, as for the friends and accomodation, that doesn’t bother me. But the residency difficulties you have faced are a bit frightening. I’ve spoken to a number of admission counselors at different universities here and I would have to pay full tuition- around £25,000 a year! Yuck. So it’s looking more and more like I’ll be dragging him back (kicking and screaming) to the US. Thanks for your help- now I have some ammo.August 30, 2002 at 8:47 pm #89648
Wanted to add a couple of other points to my email to you. One is that I believe it is easier for foreign grads to get residencies in midwest, but very few navy jobs in midwest for my husband!- so I haven’t looked into those areas too closely. Another point is that UK schools restrict applicants who are not “standard” so being a mature student, I think you do fall into that category even at only 25! would probably go against you. UK schools can also only accept so many foreign students, I think it is 10% for most schools, so again that might prove to be a barrier, and I think it is further organised to have a bias towards students from countries without good medical training. eg. malaysia seemed to send a lot of students to my school.
If you did get into a UK school you could do the USMLE exams at the same time as your UK exams and combine the cramming. Books are available in UK medical book stores to help and I believe you can take most of the US exams in London now.
Good Luck and feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have any other questions, seems like we are both struggling with being from the wrong side of the pond! Some good news for you is that UK already accepts doctors from commonwealth countries eg. Australia, and they are considering accepting US doctors. So it might be easier to do school in US then return to London if you like living in the UK.
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