Help! Need advice befor major life change!

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    Dear all,

    Wow, this is a scary time for me. I am a 27, single, with an MBA an International Business and as of late have found myself drawn back to the prospect of becoming a Pediatric Surgeon. (I would have to go back an take 1 year of prereqs before conquering the MCAT) I can not escape the thought. I dream about it, think about while exercising watching T.V., eating, etc.

    It would seem that the world is trying to tell me to make a change and due what my heart seems to be screaming for me to do but I have two issues that I desperately need advice on: I want to be a wife and mother and due to the physical and mental schedule fear that pursuing this avenue would cut me off from meeting men who want to get married and have a family due to the aforementioned and severely limit the time I could have with my children.

    The second is that I have been living like a princess for a few years now, I have a cushy job. I don’t know if I could handle being a starving student again. Is it really hard to divert back? Do you ladies feel like the sacrifice has been worth it? Singles: do you ever date?

    If you have any advice or have been in my situation please please drop me some words of wisdom!



    welcome! Browse the other forums and you’ll find that there are lots of women making that big change in careers. You are certainly not alone. 😉

    I can’t speak for the single life (wife & mom of 3!), but I know many medical people meet their spouses in school/training and I don’t know too many single doctors!

    As for parenthood, it can be done! Check out the parenting forum for some idea of the probs/solutions that we encounter.

    Good Luck!


    As a board-certified internist who has left clinical medicine for good (and never been happier), I’d recommend you explore those lifestyle issues long and hard before you take the plunge. Find yourself as many female surgeons out there and interview them, shadow them, spend as much time as possible with them — to get your best sense as to whether that life is for you.

    I have a friend from medical school who was five years through her seven-year general surgery residency (with plans for a two to three year surgical oncology fellowship afterwards), and she’s had enough. She just quit her residency to pursue a non-medical career, which is information I offer up only because she is one tough girlie and felt like her residency and lifestyle completely crushed her spirit. After spending years working 110 hours a week, she feels emotionally void and exhausted to the point of numbness. She has tried dating during her residency, but just never had the time or inclination (she was emotionally drained) to pursue a serious relationship.

    I don’t mean to be a downer, but just endeavor to offer a different point of view. It sounds like you have a great lifestyle now. If you don’t feel fulfilled in your job, there are likely other ways/career paths (less taxing and complicated paths) you could take to contribute to society, other than being a physician. The road to becoming a pediatric surgeon is long and hard. I have no doubt there are many fulfilled female surgeons out there, but you should spend a lot of time exploring whether the grass is truly greener on the other side.

    Medicine can be a wonderful career, but you should be as certain as possible that you want to pursue it, because your resolve will be tested every day as to whether the sacrifices are worth it.

    Best of luck!


    Try also to read some of the posts that I have seen recently about moms who want to take time off to raise their kids. What a long haul to get through and then feel that you would rather spend your time at home with your kids- I think that says a lot!

    Be sure to think it through.


    Peds surgery would mean 4 years med school then 9 years residency. The residency is grueling. I know a 9th year male resident. He had no time to date. I also know a practice pediatric surgeon who got married just before he started med school. He has remained married but his wife didn’t see him for the majority of their residency. Which was good preparation for their life together now. Nurse practitioner for infants would be a more practical choice if those were your only two choices, but I’d ask why those choices? Even pediatrics is less time and gives you much more flexibility when you’re done. Lots of moms are pediatricians and have all sorts of arrangements from part to full time. What are you looking for?


    The most important thing is to explore this dream throughly before you commit to it. Go and volunteer in hospitals, try to meet and work with as many physicians as you can, especially those in pediatric surgery. Significant hands-on clinical experience is virtually a requirement for admission to medical school, anyway, so that would benefit you both in terms of gathering information and helping you get into medical school. At the same time, go ahead and get started on your pre-reqs and MCAT prep, so that you’ll be ready on that front. Finally, start saving money now. Try to cut down on your current lifestyle and see how you’re able to manage. Take the money you save and put it in a safe bank account, preferable something like a 3-year CD that you can’t get to too easily before medical school (I’m sure you know a lot more about where to put money than I!)
    If you follow this plan, you could take the MCAT April 2004 and the earliest you could plan on starting med school is Fall 2005 (assuming you got in the first time, which is another story!) That gives you almost 3 years to decide for certain and would make you 30 when you started med school (same age I was when I started and there are lots of people in my class who are older). And who knows? Maybe you’ll even meet Mr. Right and have a baby somewhere along the way! And if you change your mind on the way, the only thing you’ve lost is perhaps a few thousand dollars tuition for your pre-med classes and MCAT fees- and you will have gained the satisfaction of knowing that you thoroughly explored this dream before letting it go.


    Thank you all for your sincere and well thought out replies! I greatly appreciate it. I have started interviewing and am set up to shadow a few pediatric surgeons in the near future. I have also started looking into Physicians Assistant programs with the opportunity of a surgical rotation.

    For you MDs out there… what is the “real” perception that you have of Physician Assistants, especially in the surgical realm?

    Thanks again for all the advice!


    Check out the PA forum on, there’s some very knowledgable folks there. (and a couple of grumpy ones!) You can get some good info about the PA route there.

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