In med school, but confused whether to keep going

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    Is there anyone out there who is comtemplating dropping out? Because I am. Just don’t know if it’s worth it (with residency, HMOs, decreased patient contact, etc.) and I want to have kids later on and stay at home with them. Have a couple more years of med. school left, then residency, etc.
    Anyone??? :confused:


    I am, honestly still in the contemplating stages. The reason that I haven’t just gone gangbusters and pushed ahead is because I’ve seen my husband go through med school, residency and fellowship…and I know what is really involved. These reasons keep me walking the fence right now, so I do understand where you are coming from. I have three children now and I don’t know if I’m willing to give up the time with them..that is the bottom line. I know that if I do decide definatively to go to medical school that I will face two daunting years of studying like a crazy person and that I will then face clerkships where I’ll be expected to take call like an intern…then on to internship, residency and practice…in the meantime, I face missing ballet recitals, soccer games, children’s emotional issues of childhood and adolescence, while someone else takes care of them…Even if that someone else is my husband (who would love for me to go into medicine so that he can change careers 😮 ) I think that I will always regret what I have missed.

    This is something that is hard to bring up because I think that all of us who are considering med school or are in the thick of courses need to go about it almost blindly. If we stop and think about it for any period of time, the reality can seem pretty much a bummer.

    I haven’t made my final decision yet. I will be returning to school this Fall and I’m taking two graduate level courses…chemistry and rainforest biology. I’m taking the rainforest course because I want to explore some of my other interests and see if I can imagine myself doing anything else outside of medicine…up until now, that has been my problem…I have focused on going to med school for almost 10 years …while putting my husband through…Now that my opportunity is here, I am wondering whether or not I am chasing an old dream…and also whether I could find happiness elsewhere.

    Sorry for the long ramble.



    Dear Kris,
    Thanks so much for your reply. It is so nice to hear a empathetic voice out there. I feel as if I have noone to talk to as it’s almost blasphemous to want to get out of med. school once you’re in… 🙂 I am at a different stage than you (no kids yet and in the midst of med. school), but at a similar stage in trying to decide whether medicine is truly for me or just chasing something that I’ve decided about back in junior high school. It seems that once you get going in a set path, it is very hard to change out of that course for fear of wasted time, uncertainties about other possibilities, and so forth.
    My husband is very supportive, but just as a personal choice, I would like to bring up my kids myself. Am I just worrying unnecessarily about the future? Should I just focus in on the day to day and not worry about future kids/future residency/future guilt?
    And kudos to the rest of you members for achieving your goals even with all the other pressures.


    It seems that once you get going in a set path, it is very hard to change out of that course for fear of wasted time, uncertainties about other possibilities, and so forth.

    Well, I definately hear that! There ARE such endless possibilities for career choices. I sometimes really wonder if I’m chasing a dream that doesn’t fit for my family anymore, which is why I’m taking some time to really think things through.

    I think that self-doubt can be a good thing. It can propel us forward into exploring ourselves and our needs more. If anything, this doubting has brought you to the conclusion that being a big part of raising your children is important to you….maybe this can influence your choice of specialty? Where my husband is now, there are several part-timers with children and they are really satisfied with their decisions. They all waited until the last year of residency to have their first child.

    What specialty are you considering?



    Hey guys I am not in medical school yet but hopefully will be soon (keeping fingers crossed) but I empathize (sp?) with you a lot. I am so very very happy that I waited until my kiddies were grown to even puruse a B.S and then the M.D. My children will be 15 and 11 by the time that I start medical school. I feel that yes I am older but I do not have to worry and feel guilty about one day being a practicing M.D. I have a question can you graduate medical school and postpone residency if you are pregnant at that stage? or just finish medical school and then go and do something else like working for a pharma company? If you have not started medical school can you wait to apply until your kids are older? I know of one doc that just finished medical school at the age of 50! Anyways I hope the best for both of you..


    I am assuming that you are in med school already and have probably just finished your first or second year.

    Keep going. I hated the basic science years and it wasn’t until I hit the wards third year that I really remembered why I was doing all this… and how much I love it.

    There have been many points along my path, where it could have been easy for me to throw in the towel. But I’ve slugged it through, and I can actually see the end of med school. Residency won’t be fun, but the new AGME rules will make it better for us than in the past… and trust me – there are some family friendly residencies out there.

    I admire your desire to stay home with your future kids. But I also never think that I haven’t been there for my children. My children hate when I have to take call or study, but I’ve talked with my oldest (8-1/2) about why I’m doing it. He knows that I believe that I should use the gifts that God gave me for the benefit of my community…. he knows, though, that I would rather be with him if I could. He knows that becoming a doctor takes hard work and that sometimes you have to do things when you wish you could do others (like having to spend weekends studying sometimes or being on call)… because it’s your responsibility.

    Think about why you wanted to do this in the first place. And as hard as it may sound, stop worrying about things in the future that may or may not happen. My friend’s grandmother taught him that you can do one of two things – worry or pray – choosing the first means a lack of confidence in the second one. I thought that was a great concept, though it is hard for this OCD/control freak med student to let go sometimes.

    Best of everything!




    You make many good points too…particularly about staying at home. I really teeter on this point. I’ve been a sahm a part-time working mom and a full-time working mom…and I have to say that the happiest that I was personally was (gulp) as a full-time working mom. That is so un-pc to say and I love my children dearly…but I enjoyed the adult contact, and the rewards of accomplishing professional goals. I think that I was much more “even” emotionally during that time even though I was stressed out working full-time doing research and taking a full load of classes. My kids hated me studying too…but at the same time, my oldest used to tell everyone proudly “my mom’s a scientist”. Recently, I had a doctor’s appt. and my internist is a wonderful female doc (who works part-time, btw). My oldest two children were amazed that she was a female…they both told me that they thought that doctors could only be men and teachers could only be women. 😮 I reminded my son that I had gone to school only recently to study and he told me that I’m ‘just a mom’ now. I know what he meant, but the words still did sting quite a bit. My own mother worked full-time as a nurse when I was growing up, and I was always proud of her….

    There are so many complications of motherhood in this day and age. We are expected to be everything to everyone but ourselves..and having personal and professional dreams is considered selfish.

    It is an issue that I obviously struggle with a great deal….

    Thanks for listening.



    Kris I know that I also struggle with those issues as well. I have come to realize and accept that for my family to be happy *I* need to be happy, and yes many times they do have to sacrifice (exam time, research fellowships away from home in the summer at Mayo, etc.) but all in all I am happier when I am busy. Yes, I did stay home with my kids until they were older but they are not completely on their own just yet and I still want to do things for me. For example next year I will be returning to Mayo for research and I struggle with the notion that my family will have to be without me for ten weeks, yet I am willing to sacrifice that for my own edification. Sometimes I do feel awful but when it is all done and said it also feels great! Oh well I guess we will always feel guilty for some thing or the other….



    Pearly, you’re not the only one. I got accepted to med school but decided to turn it down because my deferment request was denied. Boy, I really did feel like a heretic, I must admit! This year I have been working to evaluate whether this is something I really wanted to do- I realized I hadn’t really thought through the debt and effect on family, as well as future plans for family. I agree with the other posters in that there is a lot of tunnel vision in applying to med school.

    However, it sounds like you have already made it through halfway! A MD/DO degree is very marketable for other things other than practicing medicine, even if you decide not to complete a residency. I know one MD who is now the executive director of a nonprofit, for example- she decided not to complete a residency. There’s writing, consulting, public health– all sorts of things. It might also be worthwhile to consider taking a leave of absence to decide whether you really want to leave or not- sometimes a break can really put things in perspective.

    Best of luck with your decision.

    Tangee FoxTangee Fox

    I would say go ahead and keep slogging through for a while, since you haven’t started your family yet. I know this sounds awful, but even though you think you may want to stay home, you won’t really KNOW that until you’ve had kids (It came as a surprise for me that I didn’t enjoy it very much) and you want to keep your options for working open. I also agree that there are lots of other things you can do with an MD than just practice, so it can’t hurt to continue with your education while you’re deciding what to do.


    Hey, All,
    Thanks so much for replying to my post. It has been so refreshing to get these thoughts out into the world! Sometimes it feels so all-consuming to have these thoughts in your mind and on your chest and not be able to share them with other people who can understand what you’re going through.
    I have decided to stick with it and finish school. To be honest, I love school and feel very privileged to be able to learn about medicine and the human body.
    If worse comes to worse, I have decided that I can just not do residency or do a transitional year and foray into other areas like some of you have already mentioned.
    Again, thanks again for all your help, advice, and support!!

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