Mom RN to MD/DO or PA age 28

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    Long time reader first time poster. I am a 28 y/o RN (Med-surg) but have ventured in the psych and been a combat medic in the army. Now i also am a Mom of a 2y/o, do not feel fulfilled in life or relationship looking for future career options. I am debating between MD (USUHS) or a civilian DO program or going for Physician Assistant. I am currently working full time and taking pre-requisite classes for the PA route. Pretty much retaking everything as the university i am applying to only accepts courses in the past 7 years.
    A little about how i got here. I came from my country to study nursing here as i had received a scholarship at the age of 19. Later post-graduation from nursing school i was arranged to my husband. Leaving apart for a year and then getting married but i was still in school and then decided to join military. Post 2 years of military i had my son and got out.

    I am having relationship issues. Basically both of us wanting different things from life. Do not have that settled yet. Husband thinks in terms of settling and i still have aspirations and dream of becoming a Doctor. I am torn between being a mother and being a medical school student. If I go MD route my only option would be the UHUHS as its military and paid for. I visited their open house last month and fell in love with the program. But this program requires 7 year commitment post residency, which is understandable. But again it comes to sacrificing my time with my son. Or so it seems internally. I do not want any more children. At least not with my current husband.

    I have 50% of my G I bill that i can use for further education. But spouse is reluctant to let me pursue DO route in a civilian medical school just because it will be a huge financial burden and we will have to live of one salary vs in military i will still get paid during medical school.
    Although being a RN next plausible step according to many is NP. But i clearly know i like science subjects better and do not quite fit in this nursing model. Hence i decided to go the PA route. But as i started doing the pre-requisites i asked myself numerous times about “Why not Medical school?” and that brought out a spark of light in my eyes. Since then i have been struggling to see if i really can be a “Doctor”. I do struggle at times in thinking critically, i have self-doubts and especially with a child. I didn’t bring him on earth just to have him. But i want more from life, that will make me feel alive. I know medical school is a lot of struggle and a long commitment. I need to know “How can you determine, if medical school is the right step for a Mom?; What is that one thing which will clear out all the doubts of which path is good?; Am i going to just get that respect/title of a Doctor or i really can contribute better to the community even as a PA?
    I still want to travel, enjoy life with my son. I guess i am just overwhelmed or thinking too much.

    I would highly appreciate help and advice from everyone.
    will be waiting eagerly. 🙂


    Hi Drashti, I think there are a lot of ways you can be happy and contribute to the community, no matter what you choose: RN, NP, PA, or MD/DO. I think there are also lots of choices within each path that account for individual preferences, such as liking science, or liking a particular aspect of science. Just as an example, critical care would involve more numbers and physiology than something like psych.

    One huge difference between all the possible degrees is the amount of time and money you (and your family) will have to sacrifice to get there. You will have a much greater chance of success if your husband supports your choice. Just look around on MomMD for ways that husbands have either helped or hurt their wives’ medical careers, especially in the areas of childcare, money, moving/refusing to move, and general amount of stress vs emotional support. It sounds like your relationship is not currently in a place where he will give you 100% support for going to medical school.

    One other source of support is your child’s grandparents. Would your parents and/or in-laws be willing to come to where you live and take care of their grandson while you are going through school and training?

    As for traveling and enjoying life with your son, you could probably find some time to do that on any of those paths, but it would probably be the hardest if you choose the MD/DO path, and easiest if you do something with the degree you already have.

    As for the military, isn’t there also the HPSP? I thought that would pay for you to go to a civilian medical school, in exchange for some kind of military service. I don’t know much about medicine and the military, but I would definitely want to find out if I could be deployed overseas. That would obviously have a much bigger impact on your family than providing service within the states.

    As for respect, maybe doctors get a little more respect, but not as much as you would think.

    I don’t think there is any one right answer or any way of clearing away all doubts. I hope you are able to expore all your options and have a frank discussion with your husband so that you can pick something that will work out for you and your family. Good luck!


    Thank you for your replying to my post. I appreciate your input. Let me expand on some of the queries.

    I know for sure that Medical school requires a huge personal and family sacrifice. A Medical board of director physician from a university had told me that “medical school is like a jealous mistress”. My husband is a laid back person who is content with a roof over his head food on the table. He sure is picky and thinks on a materialistic happiness. Where as, I am ambitious and like to challenge my limits from time to time. I feel the mundane daily tasks boring. I love traveling where as my spouse not at all. If it was up to him I would not even be going back to school at all. I am working on my relationship but i feel before i can discuss anything with my spouse I need to finish the task of “soul-searching” and to find what I am really longing for “a lifestyle or a deeper calling”. Growing up i had never thought anything other than becoming a doctor. I should say more so as my parents and community i lived in wanted me to be one.

    My son’s grand-parents are back home. They have lived a different lifestyle and i am unsure of them liking the US lifestyle or not. As i learned from a ted-talk “Not to rely on any particular individual for support in making future decisions. Due to the uncertainty attached to the changing time and situation”. I feel this is a very good advice. But I think I can vouch for my mom helping me out if it comes to that.

    I have looked into the HPSP program as well. The time commitment for that is 4 yrs. vs 7. But the catch is that government can pull you out post medical school and before residency if it comes to deployment. Well being a veteran, and if i choose to join the military I need to prepare my mind and my family onto possibility of deployment as its given going to serve this country. I feel if i am going to be a military physician I should be trained like one. Hence, the USUHS option. But at the end if it comes down to it. I will not ignore the HPSP route.

    Once i started this journey of going back to school. I was set on becoming a PA. After taking some hard science classes I learned that i love the problem-solving, analyzing the hard concepts, trying to train my mind to think outside the box. Along with encouragement from my instructors and other mentors i tumbled upon, and a close friend who pushed me to look further and not to sell my self short and limiting myself. They believed more in me then I believe in myself. Hence i opened can of worms of looking into the Medical School. I do have self-doubts but after researching on the internet i found out there are many many candidates who have taken multiple tries into getting into the program and have been able to achieve it regardless of the obstacles. This gives me confidence that i will be able to get through it. But is it worth the sacrifice of my son? I ask that question daily. At the same time i do not wish to venture into the world of “What ifs” later in the future. That is why i am taking my sweet time to truly know what i will be comfortable with at the end.

    I know for sure what i would not like to get into. That is: Pediatrics trauma, ER, Surgery, Dermatology, NICU, IM, FP, Chiropractor.,Nephrology, Cardiology, GS, Urology, Anesthesiology, pathologist, Infectious Diseases, ICU. I am fascinated by Obstetrics, OB/GYN, Women care, Pediatrics, Oncology, Optometry, research and definitely integrative medicine. I am not going for money into this profession. As being an RN i have clear view of the system and at the end of the day its the patient population and diseases, not about the person nor the money.

    What truly started made me thinking about being a physician, was the part that in this day and time every other person is going into or applying in to PA school making the entry into the program highly competitive. Also every to her nurse or nursing student wish to becoming a NP. Will this trend not flood the market with mid-level providers? creating a demand for physicians? Also the constant battle to proving yourself to the health care team, to the patient about one’s title. Not being able to get the recognized and gain the respect? Yes, there are crapy doctors and people who never want to see one. But working as a nurse i have the privilege to examine these biases that i observe day in and out. What are your thoughts on that? I know being a physician will definitely stroke my ego, but is the sacrifice worth it at the end?

    Coming to the finance part of funding medical school. I have 50% of G.I BiIl that will help me not incur as much debt as a other medical student. Also, if i work extra as a nurse while going to school i can save enough to get pass by those hard times. I feel medical school is hard enough and adding the military component to the scenario will further increase the stress level. Where as if one look at the civilian medical school the first stressor is financial. And money is a huge factor i am not denying that. It all comes down whether or not my spouse will be supportive. I was told by a Peds Physician that “One will never be a poor doctor”.

    Other options I have looked into is finishing PA school and later applying for MD/DO programs. But then i have heard that many medical schools do not accept a PA. As they think they are jumping around too much. Very well in my case coming from a nursing background i have doubts if i will get accepted. But at least it will give me the exposure onto how it is being a PA and be able to narrow down my decision process. But again I am not sure on relying on that uncertainty either. Let me know if this is true or not from your experience?

    Also i have not seen many PAs going into the route of integrative medicine: Ayurveda nor research. I am drawn to doing something that will contribute in naturalistic form of medicine but need a license and stature of a physician to be able to get heard by the community. Do not get me wrong i very much believe in vaccinations and getting a surgery or radiation therapy. Just to get a deeper understanding of a holistic medicine and treating a human body as one with nature. I think medicine in general is headed that way.

    I know i have to draw my limit at some point in time. I do not wish to limit myself nor do i wish to sacrifice the upbringing of my son. At the same time i want him to gain inspiration from his mother that there is nothing impossible if one sets his/her mind to achieving it. I do not wish to resent him in not being able to accomplish my dream career. So there are a lot of aspects i have to look into standing at this cross road of MD/PA. Please let me know in what other way i need to think or soul-search as well to narrow down my option. Or if you have an out of the box idea that might be good to look into. Thanks again.


    Obviously you have put a lot of thought into all these issues. It does get very complicated when you think about all the possible factors. I am not sure I can answer all your questions, but I will comment on a few things.

    I don’t know much about the employment market of midlevels vs physicians. Our population does seem to be getting sicker, so I am guessing that there will still be a demand for both types of providers, but that is only a guess.

    As for whether the additional sacrifice to become a doctor (rather than a midlevel) is worth it, I can only speak for myself when I say yes. My situation was different from yours, however. I did not have a family at the time, and my medical school was relatively cheap, so I really only sacrificed my twenties. And I don’t just mean the actual years, but all the relationships, friendships, and opportunities that I missed out on during those years because I was too busy. But still I am very happy to be a physician. Maybe I would have been happy to be a midlevel, too. There is no way to know for sure.

    I absolutely do know some poor doctors. It is a very real possibility as the cost of medical education goes up and doctors’ pay goes down. You can try to avoid it by planning ahead, as you are doing by looking for a free or low-cost medical school. You can also live frugally, choose a high-paying specialty, work full-time, invest wisely, etc. But there are no guarantees, especially these days, when everyone is trying to solve the problem of how much our country spends on healthcare.

    I don’t know much about medical school admissions, but there was a former nurse in my class, so they will not exclude you for that.

    I think all of us struggle with the issue of wanting to set a good example for our children by achieving something vs wanting to be there for our children. I don’t think there is one right answer because we are all different, our children are all different, and everybody’s needs will change with time. I think a lot of moms want to work part-time so that we can have the best of both worlds, but that is not always possible, especially during the years of medical education and training.

    The only other idea I have is that a career counselor might help you sort through all the issues and figure it all out. I saw a career counselor once, when I was considering nonclinical work, and she helped me put everything in perspective by figuring out what was important to me.

    Good luck figuring it all out!


    Thank you once again. I do not know i have to post my reply twice before it actually gets posted.
    But anyways. I have reached to the decision to at least prepare and appear for MCAT. I owe this to myself and see how i do on the test, to gauge my skill level and remove the self-doubts. Also, on the hindsight I have a feeling my scale is pointing towards MD/DO route. It just feels right from inside. I am in the process of reading the soul-searching strategy book and it is helping me bring things to perspective.
    For the matter of my relationship, i feel at this point let me self-evaluate my goals before bringing anyone into it. P.s hubby is almost to the agreement kind of 90%. Praying things go well.
    Now on to the hard part of approaching the Monster test….:S :S 👿

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