Other Options…

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    Hello Ladies,

    I know this is almost blasphemy here, but I am really struggling with it…

    If I were to choose not to pursue an MD, just what the heck should I do??? I have thought and thought about all the Allied Health positions available, and I am so up in the air about what other options might work for me that I just kind of keep plodding toward med school. The problem is, I am still so unsure whether that’s really really what I want.

    So here’s what I’ve been considering:
    Physician’s Assistant (I don’t see many drawbacks, but it almost seems like I might as well go the whole nine yards)
    Laboratory Medicine (interesting work but no patient contact)
    Nursing (really not what I had in mind, but lots of avenues to explore)
    Rad Tech (I know a couple who love their jobs)

    Anyone have any thoughts on these positions?

    I may just be bumming out because life SUCKS right now, but I feel like I miss my kids and my home so much and I am only gone two nights a week…when I’m home my nose is in the books and that’s not much better. What’s going to happen when it’s six or seven nights a week? I don’t want to get there and find that I hate it, and I know many of you feel the same way. Guess I am just looking for more options…HELP!



    I somewhat understand how you feel. Though I do not have any kids to miss yet I do understand the frustration of trying to make sure that this is right before you go any further. Make sure that this is what you “REALLY, REALLY, REALLY” want to do more than anything else. Sometimes when I think about giving up on pursuing my dreams of becoming a doctor I pick up a good book for inspiration. There are a lot of good books on a thread in the General Discussion forum. My personal favorites are Perri Klass “A not entirely benign Procedure” and Ben Carson “Think Big”. I am beginning to read “Kitchen Table Wisdom” which I hear is exceptional for inspiration.
    The alternative professions you metioned are great but make sure that it is something that you want as a career and not as a job.
    The best advice I can give is..,
    Whatever you decide make sure that you “REALLY,REALLY,REALLY want to do that. Then pray about which decision you should make. Then “LET GO and LET GOD”.
    Best Wishes,


    Alternatives have been a big topic for me this last couple of years. After experiencing residency and fellowship with my husband, I knew that medicine was something that I couldn’t pursue until my children were older…for our family, it would simply be too much. I have wrestled with this and still do…obviously…I still check out the boards here every week even though I’m officially no longer a premed.

    It is hard for me at times to come to terms with the idea that I will probably never fulfill that dream of becoming a doctor….at the same time, I realize that I chose to have my children…I didn’t anticipate that they would have the needs that they do and that it would be so hard for me to juggle parenting and my own education.

    I was accepted to med school before finding out that I was pregnant with my first child….I gave that up (deferred) with that pregnancy over 8 years ago….thinking that medicine would always be there…and it will…My husband and I have three children now and I don’t regret my decision (most days :boggled: ). I know that a childcare provider could have cared for my children well and that children in daycare/childcare arrangements do just fine…perhaps my decision to be home most of the time was a selfish one. I wanted to be there with them….I wanted to nurse them, change them, experience the firsts…and I did. It wasn’t always easy and I haven’t always been the mother that I hoped that I would be. I have gone through times of feeling overwhelmed, burned out, exhausted, frustrated…and even resentful because my career isn’t where I had hoped that it would be at the age of 32…but if I could go back and do it again, I wouldn’t do it differently.

    As to career….I am currently teaching a college lab course in Cell Biology two mornings a week (I have my MS). I didn’t know if this was something that could fulfill or excite me, but it really DOES. I love what I’m doing right now…and I feel like even though I’m not currently working at being accepted to med school, I’m gaining incredible experience and I’m getting the opportunity to work with students and inspire them and the directions that their lives take. I am helping students adjust to life away from home and dealing with emotional issues as well as teaching science. This is also a way to help people and it involves science.

    I don’t know what the future holds for me….but for now, I have found an acceptable alternative….a mix between science and helping others. I didn’t know that I could be happy doing something else….explore your options…it doesn’t mean that you can’t ever go back…and you may find some new passions!



    If I was never to gain acceptance to medical school, an allied field would not be my other option. I would always wonder if I could have or should have. I would pursue a Ph.D and either teach college courses or do research or both. I am giving myself three times to apply and that is it, if after three times I do not get in then maybe it was not in the stars for me. That said I am totally sure that medicine is the route for me and I have thought about this a lot, to include shadowing, volunteering (still doing that), etc. But, my kids are older (13 and soon to be 10) andd by the time I start medical school and then residency they will be much older (with one ready to start college). I could not and would not have pursued this route if my kids were younger and more needy, there is just no way that you can be there for them and study, and volunteer, and do well in school period. It is extremely hard to maintain a high gpa when you are cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids, among other things. I know this is not the PC way, but no, we cannot do it all (us women)without something suffering, and it is usually our family. My kids although they are older sometimes do take the backburner (during exam time) and it is very disruptive to family life although this may only last a week or so. Because we are the glue that holds the family together, when mommy is busy or doing other things all hell breaks loose. So, remember that you can do medical school a a later time when your kids are a little older, you will be more relaxed and at ease about your decision, and it will be much easier on the family life. I am very happy that I waited until the kiddies were somewhat self sufficient, and although I will be much older when I start med school (if I get in) 37, I will not regret having waited. Sometimes I do get the feeling from some other female friend pre-meds with families, that they really have no concept of the hours that it will require (medicince) to become a doctor. If we think this is hard as far as time goes, wait until we get into our 3rd and 4th year rotations, an behold the residency years! It is really really time demanding and we need to go in with both eyes wide open. Yes, it can be done but at what cost to our families? I hear many ladies stating oh, I want to do this and that and still have a quality family life, well from talking to many many docs that is just almost impossible, unless you work part time. As a patient I would not seek out a part time physician (not trying to bash PT docs here) becuase if I get sick or my kids get sick, I want to see my doc. If he/she is PT then what? I have to wait to see him/her another day or two? Anyways off my soapboax for now, but Glenvally just know that no matter what you do, medicine will always be there, and if the passion remains you can always pursue the goal later. Good luck.


    I just love this site, your wisdom and encouragement is always so…I don’t know, soothing I guess. 🙂

    My kids are 7 and 9 now, will be 9 and 11 if I get in on the first try. I don’t at all regret doing it backwards, having the kids first and then pursuing my education. But I think what I am facing at this point is watching them grow up and away from me. I am feeling like there just aren’t many years left when they’re still going to want and need me…If I am not around, how much will I regret it when one day I look at them and realize that I missed precious moments that can never be re-lived? You are right efex, medicine will always be there, but the window of childhood is awful short.

    Don’t worry, I am not dropping out, or drastically changing course. I still intend to complete all of the prerequisites and only have a few classes to go. I am just trying to consider other things I might do for a few years if I decided to put med school on hold. And if I decide not to go at all, I don’t know what will make me happy and fulfilled, but I’m sure I’ll find something. I was just looking for suggestions.




    Thanks to all who have posted. It’s been great and helpful to read what you have to say. I’m in a similar position to Glenn.

    Growing up I dreamed of being a doctor. After doing poorly at my college science courses because of poor study habits, I finally gave up that dream. I studied and worked at other fields, but all of a sudden I am now considering becoming a nurse anesthetist. I figure it would take 5 years total. Once I finish the prerequisites, it would be 2 years for the BSN, 1 year required experience as a nurse, then 2 years for the CRNA graduate degree. The wages would really be excellent. However, I know I would always feel like others here, that I had failed somehow in achieving my life’s dream, that it wouldn’t be enough.

    I am 31 now, single with no children, so spending 8 years to become a anesthesiologist plus 2 years in preparation for medical school doesn’t seem practical financially. I would appreciate any advice!!


    I will tell you that I am honestly considering PA school now. I want the medical career and the patient contact, but I want my family life as well.
    I have a friend finishing her residency this year with 2 toddlers and I have seen the enormous time demands, marital strain, and fatigue it has caused her.
    My hope is that I can “have it all” with the PA route. As a primary care provider (pedi.) I will be able to see patients, make diagnosis, write RX, and make referrals(sp) with 2 1/2 yrs of med school and clinics. (instead of the 4+3 years for MD) PA’s make pretty good money and seem to get respect from Docs and patients. (I’ve been shadowing, volunteering, and generally pestering people with my questions! 😀 )

    That’s the plan I have for now, although I realize I am apt to change my mind a couple more times before I settle. I encourage everyone to thoroughly explore their options. If the MD is all that will satisfy you, you need to know that. You also need to know what options are available. I highly recommend talking to people in the professions. I’ve found PA’s and NP’s to be generally eager to talk about their jobs.



    Hello all!

    Great topic! There are always alternatives for determined intelligent women like ourselves. 😀 I agree with Efex. (at this point anyway) It’s a lonnnnng road, but if med schools decide that I’m not the right candidate after years of hard work. I would like to go for PhD and do research, and possibly teach at the college level or at grade school level. (where the kids actually WANT to learn.– What a concept!) :guilty: She could deter me, and she is the only person (besides myself!) that could.

    Val, wishes and prayers going out to you. Medicine–coming in or going out–is never an easy decision from what I’ve seen. Good luck!



    What is your “dream”?
    Is your “dream” to use your critical thinking skills to diagnose, treat, and ultimately resolve a problem or disease in a patient? Is your “dream” to raise your children yourself and affect their development and values? Is it your “dream” to have a marriage that lasts a lifetime? Or, is it your “dream” to have all of the above?
    I fell into the last category – I wanted it all! I began to realize that 24 hours in a day were not enough time for me to be superhero physician, superMom, AND superwife. SO, years ago, I made the decision to pursue being a PA. My decision was partly influence by my experiences working with the elderly (who never seemed to express regret about their careers, but often cried over the time they missed with their family or spouses) and my own father’s health crises (which reminded me how little time we DO have to spend with our loved ones).
    I now work as a PA in an emergency department, and I think it’s a great way to be able to practice medicine at a high level without giving up your life to do it. Not to say there aren’t days when I feel twinges of regret! (See my post about “Pondering medical school”) But, overall, I think PA school was the right choice for me. BUT, as some posters have referred to it, being a PA over being a doctor is not “settling!” There are pros and cons to both PA and MD. Depending on where you’re sitting, being an MD could be seen as settling.
    As for the folks who confidently post that having kids while being in medical school or better yet going through residency will work out just fine as long as they’re fulfilling their dream of being a physician….In my opinion, it’s very, very difficult. Medical school is time-consuming and requires hours and hours of focused study. (As does PA school, but the light at the end of the tunnel is only 2 years away!) Residency is a extremely demanding for hours. Plan on working 80+ hours a week (usually 80 is on the low end). Can and have women done it? YES! But there’s always a price (your kids, your marriage, your health).
    The female doctors I work with at my hospital are wonderful, and many of them have children. One doctor has a stay-at-home husband who takes care of the children. One is married to a man who’s a PA and he does most of the child-rearing for their 2 adopted children. One is divorced, has custody of her 5 kids, must work 2 FT jobs to support herself and pay alimony to her ex, and parents her children (very ineffectively, I must add) over the phone. Her life is a mess. One doc is unmarried and has no children.
    I’m not saying you can’t have both children and a career as a physician, but I think timing is key. And, I think one must truly consider what is most important – your career? Your kids? Your marriage? And if career comes first, are your kids (or spouse for that matter) still being attended to in a way that is fair and healthy for them?
    Sometimes giving up a “dream” career path (a choice I made consciously years ago) just means coming up with a new (and maybe better) dream.
    Meesh 🙂


    Ok y’all… I gotta vent a bit… :twocents:

    I read posts from time to time that seem to infer that children who have gone through daycare are somehow to be pitied and that a mom, by working or going to school, is missing out. I respect and admire my friends who have chosen to be SAHMs. That is a choice that many women do not have. And it takes a special woman, I believe, to make that choice and stay home with her kids.

    My choice, on the other hand, has been to go back to school (over 8 yrs now!) and become a physician. That choice does not make me a better person or a bad mother. It does not mean I do not value my children or that I somehow place my career above my family.

    My children have been in daycare and I do not believe it has harmed them. They have great social skills, above grade academic skills, good manners, and still love going to school. Being in medical school has required late nights, overnight call, etc. I have missed a few soccer games and was late getting home to trick-or-treat this year. But yet my children know that they come first. Period. They are growing into wonderful, caring individuals who know they are loved and who know that they have a responsibility when they grow up to give back to the community and help others.

    For me, being a physician is not about “wanting it all” or thinking that being anything else is somehow inferior. I truly believe that I would not be as happy doing anything else, and medicine (and the MD that goes with it) is the best fit for me and for my personality. For me then, there is no alternative.

    So now, before I get off my soapbox, I want to recap one thing. What is the best choice for you, or the best choice for your children and family is just that – please do not project your choice onto my family. I have made the choices that I believe are best for my children and best for me. I am tired of being asked how I do it “all” or worse yet, being told how I should be at home rather than in the hospital. I know how hard my job is, how hard it is to balance everything. Really I do. But except for wishing for a little more outside help, I wouldn’t want my life any other way.

    What have I learned? You can do it all… you just can’t do it all at once.

    Thanks for letting me blow off some steam.

    Mommy and 4th year medical student



    I would never think of saying that what is right for our family is right for yours or that you are in any way inferior because of your choice to go to medical school with small children. 😮 I apologize if my post came off like that.

    I was never the typical stay-at-home mom. I have always taken a class or done something outside of the kids that kept my career feet wet. For us though, medical school has not been in the cards for me for many reasons.

    I agree with you that you can have it all, just not all at once…but the definition of not all at once is pretty tough…do you wait until you’re finished breastfeeding, or until they start school, start high school, go off to college. When does mom get to carve out that time for herself?

    I really and honestly did want to spend those early years at home…though I know that I didn’t do the greatest job because I was also frustrated and lonely. I just wanted that for me. I don’t think that the children would have suffered going to daycare. On the contrary, when my children started preschool and the year that Alex went to daycare they developed social skills that were invaluable. My youngest goes to preschool on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and stays for before and after care….and he LOVES it. If I’d let him stay all day every day he would. At this point, if I could pay to send him I probably would too. It isn’t a matter of your chilren not being cared for…it is a personal choice of what we want for our ourselves too.

    For me, having it all means that I’ll have to wait until they are much older. This is because we have already done 8 years of residency/fellowship and I think that I have to offer my family a chance to recover. My children have had trouble adjusting and coping with the stress that has been brought on by all of the moving and marital stress and we all need time.

    Do I think that moms who work miss out sometimes…yah, I do. Have I also worked fulltime outside of the home at times…yes, I have, and yes…I did miss out on things. There were times that I was too preoccupied and exhausted even when I was home to really listen…to really know what was going on. That’s the honest to God truth and during those times I did what I had to get buy and accomplish my goals (getting my MS)…

    If I were to go to medical school now, it would spell the end of my marriage because as a couple we’re still recovering…..Our life, family support system, marriage and children are not the same as yours and so I would never want to imply that you should be making the same choices that we are.

    I am sorry if I presented myself in that manner. As you know, I have a great deal of respect for you and your accomplishments.



    Good post EemaMD!!

    Although it’s not meant to imply certain things about our career choices or different pathways, I too sometimes feel like I’m being interrogated ir insulted for not doing a good enough job. Thanks for making me feel I’m not alone!


    Linda I really do not think that any of us were implying that children that go to daycare are less loved or less well taken care of. Sorry if that is what you perceived via my post. What I was doing is responding to Glenvally and her concerns. I think that maybe we are forgetting that some of these ladies are single parents and for them to achieve their goal would/will require some sacrifices on part of their family. It is hard to raise kids while working insane hours, believe me I know. I used to be in the Army and getting my kids up at 5:00 so I could go do PT by 6:00 was terrible. Then come home at 6:00 at night to give them dinner and put them to bed was no fun. All I was doing was giving my opinion because I have been there (working a ton and not being there for my first kid in the early years). This is what the board is all about, by no means was I implying that my way is *the* way for all families. But also let us not kid ourselves, kids do want us there, even if it is not “quality time” just us being there in the house with them.


    My reply really wasn’t directed at anyone in particular. Nor was it meant as a condemnation of anyone else’s choices – whether to do med school or not, whether to stay at home or work, etc. As I said before, I have the utmost respect and admiration for SAHMs. But just like them, I sometimes feel on the defensive for the choices I have made. :boggled:

    We all do the best that we can…


    P.S. Kris – You know I know about the “stuff” we’ve had to go through as medical spouses. (We’re attempting some last minute repair work ourselves.) I believe in you and support the decisions you’ve made for you and your family… and I never thought for a second that your post was a personal attack. It’s all cool.


    Hi Linda, and thank you for that reply. I was starting to feel I’m a bad mommy. I’m planning to apply to med school in june 2003, which means my daughter will be a little over 2 yrs old by the time I begin school(if I get in that is)I am very attached to her and often think how she will respond to me not being there as much, It makes me feel really bad, but I know this is what I really want to do with my life. I don’t think anything else can satisty me more than to be a physician (besides my husband 😀 )We love children and want more kids. We are actually talking about having another baby before I begin school. He is very supportive. If we start working now :goodvibes: the new baby will be about 10 months old by the time school starts. What do you think? Should I wait till 2nd year is over? We don’t want our kids age to be too far appart. You’re there, how old are your kids, how do you juggle family, studies and time just for you. I really admire you. I would love to hear more, since (hopefully) some day I’ll be there too. Feel free for anyone to reply, I love info!! Thanks Eli

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