dropping out/leave of absence…father

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    I apologize in advance if my posting here as a male isn’t cool or bad form BUT I am feeling desperate.

    I am 30, just finished up an OB/GYN rotation in 3rd year of med school, and am ready to take a leave of absence because I just can’t see giving up this much of my life and time that I could/should be spending with my 7 yr old daughter.

    I have her every weekend but have seen her only about 16 hours total in the last month or so due to the ridiculous demands of this so-called medical ‘education’. I have lost all sight of the ideals that put me here…I hate the smell/sight of the hospital…the OR…I have stood scrubbing in with tears in my eyes praying others in the OR would fail to notice, as it has become plain to me that they wouldn’t move these people one iota based on the way I have seen them treat patients. Not to suggest they have been overtly ‘mean’ or neglectful towards patients, but I can see through it all and it all sucks…

    Anyhow, alot of stuff at once…I’m just looking for some advice from others who may have actually taken a leave or have considered it and how it may have helped or hindered them in achieving their goals…at this point I am feeling a lot of guilt, in particular I feel as tho I have abandoned my little girl for my own career goal(s) that I can no longer justify by some ideal that I once held on to…the other issue is what to do after this? can I get a job with a BS in bio and two years and two clerkships in med school? I just want to breath and live life once again…



    Dear Ryan and all,

    I was touched by your story because I also struggled w/ the decision to leave medical school. I left medical school in the middle of my second year. It’s been a little more than a year and half since I left.

    I left medical school for a lot of reasons, many of which I am now re-evaluating. One of the reasons was that I couldn’t understand how I could be a mother and a doctor at the same time (I do not have any children, but I hope to). I was also under a great deal of stress, and I had a hard time differentiating that stress from my real feelings toward medicine. When I left medical school, I was convinced that I was not that interested in medicine.

    I don’t have any advice for you Ryan, but the one thing I wanted to share is that now that I have been away from medicine for a while, I really miss it. Now that I have had the time to explore different options, I find myself always returning to medicine. I too hated the hospital (although I had not gotten to rotations yet). I felt that nobody knew how miserable I was. But now that I am in a much better mental and emotional state to evaluate my career options, I realized that the emotional and mental factors had clouded my judgement, at least in part. The time off really made me see things differently.

    I don’t yet have any plans on returning to medicine, as I am still exploring all the issues involved. I am really happy to have found this list. I wish I had known about it while I was in school. Even if I had, I wonder if it would have made a difference. I was so miserable that I was convinced I knew what was best for me.


    Hi Ryan,
    My heart goes out to you my friend. I’m so glad you posted here so that we can support you.

    Have you ever considered that you might be depressed? Having gone through a serious depression a few years ago, I know that when I was depressed the whole world was colored black. Even the things I loved to do were abhorred by me during my depression. Having gone through counseling and taking meds has really changed my life and made life good again. Most importantly, I learned that you should NEVER make an important life-altering decision while depressed, such as quitting medical school. I recommend, from a friend to a friend, that you seek advice from a counselor/doctor/both before you do anything. Also, OB is supposedly the worst rotation time-wise, and that other rotations should leave you more time to spend with your daughter (according to the 3rd and 4th year med students).

    Please share your feelings with one of the counselors at your medical school, every school should have a few who are there to help you through ruts like these. And don’t think you are being a bad father, your daughter knows you love her and she adores you. My parents are divorced and I only got to see my dad once a month–but he was the hero and light of my life and I cherished the time we spent together. I never thought he was a “bad father” for the limited time he had with me.

    Let us know how things go. And don’t be shy to post on MomMD…as we can see DadMD’s go through the same trials as the moms. We are here to support you.

    1st year medical student
    Mom of three
    Wife of one


    Thank you Ryan for posting. WE ABSOLUTELY WELCOME men here too. You are so so welcome here. I look forward to replies from other women and MEN, we do have some male members.

    I hope that your can come to peace soon.

    Best wishes,

    MomMD Founder


    I think it’s really important that you talk with your daughter about the struggle and about what you do(or did) love about medicine. If you can get through the agony of bad rotations and then choose a reasonable residency, things will definitely get better. You have already identified that she’s a higher priority than medicine to you, but you will have much more flexibility in the future than you do now as a med student. I didn’t have kids during med school but did during residency, and I brought my son in to see me in my workplace and built some special rituals (like getting a Kit Kat out of the vending machine in the cafeteria) to reinforce that he was included in my career and that what I did was important and meaningful to me. I wonder what your daughter thinks about you becoming a doctor? She might be really proud of you for what you are doing, especially if you include her in the process. When I studied for Boards, my son brought over his papers and said he wanted to “study” too — I think it helped me a lot to keep reminding myself that he was part of the reason I was doing all this painful stuff. Now that I’m done and I’m in private practice, I have the flexibility I wanted with a MUCH better income than I would have if I hadn’t become a doctor. And he knows what I do and still likes coming to my office! Good luck!


    Do not quit without first talking to your Dean. I know my dean helped a lot of students, who thought they should quit, find a solution. Maybe he/she could help arrange your schedule to ensure you have the heavier rotations spread out instead of back-to-back. That way at least every couple of months you would know you would have more time to spend with your daughter.

    Talk to your daughter. Talk to your ex-wife. Make sure they know how you feel about your daughter and that you are not blowing her off. Maybe give her a calendar and mark on it the weekends you will have more time. You could number the days till you will see her and she could tick them off each day.

    Good luck.

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