Taking time off of medical school

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  • #26046
    nearlyAmomnearlyAmom
    Participant

    I’m a second year medical student and am pregnant. I am due this summer. I would like to take next year off (in between 2nd and 3rd years) but have been advised that this will look bad when I apply to residency. Unfortunately with the due date of the baby, I would have to put an extremely young baby in day care (possibly as young as 3 weeks or as old as 3 months, depending on birth and length of time off) if I only took off one clinical rotation for 3rd year, and I’m not comfortable with that. Furthermore, my husband is also a full time student and finances may not allow for the amount of day care we would need next year.

    Does anyone have any experience or advice in this area? I have only been advised by one dean at our medical school and am not comfortable making such a difficult decision based on one rather unsupportive point-of-view.

    Thank you for anything you can offer us.

    #26047
    MelissaGrayMelissaGray
    Participant

    Personally, I wouldn’t be interested in going to a residency program that had a problem with you doing this. They may, however, want to know whether or not this might happen again while you’re in residency.

    I’d take the year off if it were me. I’m sure you’ll get more advice and some different opinions from here before too long. 🙂

    #26048
    MTaylorMTaylor
    Participant

    hmmm…

    Why not “do research” for a year…or something equally academic. You could take a year (or two) off and…”volunteer”…people do it all the time (for other reasons than pregnancy).

    That way, when you apply to residency, you’ll have an “academic/self development” explanation for the delay. AND, you may get a publication to add to your CV.

    #26049
    DONOTDELETE ****DONOTDELETE**
    Participant

    I think that Mya has an excellent suggestion. I had my twins during 2nd year, and ended up taking 18 months off from school. I’m so glad that I did. I don’t know how much it will hurt me in terms of residency applications (I’m a MS3 right now), but from a personal mom perspective, it was the right thing for me to do. (Everyone is different, but it wouldn’t have felt right to leave them when they were little.) I’m lucky in that my husband has a real job, so we’ve been able to afford a nanny since I’m back in school. Research always looks good on applications, so if you could do some part time research and be at home longer, you might to get the best of both worlds. Good luck!

    #26050
    DONOTDELETE ****DONOTDELETE**
    Participant

    i’m in the very similar situation.
    just got an admission to the medical school at age 31. husband is a student in m2. don’t know when to have kids…
    husband’s family is against about the whole idea of going to medical school…
    is it possible to have kids in m2?
    i would like to have a child before i turn 35.
    any suggestion?

    #26051
    KelliliKellili
    Participant

    I just got admitted to medical school too, I’m 35 and have a 12-week old baby daughter. My pediatrician suggested that I try to get pregnant in October of my second year, so I could have my second baby in spring after exams. Then I’d have the whole summer with the baby, take the following fall off, return to school in January and start my rotations. The rotations I missed it the fall could be made up the following summer. This plan would give me 8 months with my new baby, and wouldn’t significantly delay my progress. Any thoughts on this plan? Does it sound workable?

    #26052
    nearlyAmomnearlyAmom
    Participant

    For both the people admitted to medical school, I would talk to the deans at your school to find out how much leeway is offered. As far as I know (and I’m not a dean, so this may not be true) taking off 6 months would have you graduating at an odd time and matching off-schedule from the rest of the class. At our school, I had the ability to take off 6 weeks or 12 weeks to remain in my class – but this may differ from school to school depending on requirements for rotations. If you are lucky enough to have more leeway at your school, one other thing to consider is that many people take those extra months during 4th year for interviews, so you’d want to consider how much time you’ll have to interview. I’m not trying to be discouraging at all, just to tell you that it will depend in large part on your medical school and what they can offer you, so I would talk to them first.

    #26053
    DONOTDELETE ****DONOTDELETE**
    Participant

    To the second year medical student who is thinking of taking time off before beginning her third year. As a 40 something year old women psychiatrist who took no time off between any of my schools and who did not give birth ( I have become a mom thrugh marriage ( long story) I react positively to your plan. I think that it will be a good time to break for your child’s first year and that you can do the book work to keep up and maybe even join a physical diagnosis class before beginning your thrid year one year later. There are many stresses of the clinical years that you will inevetably experience but you can keep your life together and know that you gave your baby the best start. I woul avoid taking more than one year off though. Good luck and do not worry about this break! You will start up again with confidence and stability that will not be there if you force your way through possibly exposing your baby to illnesses encountered in the hospital and the baby’s daycare too!

    #26054
    RainamRainam
    Participant

    I don;t know how old you are – probably reasonable young, I would guess, in which case you have plenty of time ahead of you to catch up on your career. Children are not “must-have” accessories like the latest handbag, they are living, breathing human beings who need you. I would not recommend going back after a few months, or worse, weeks. I made this mistake with my first child (although I was not a student at the time – I was a practicing Dr with a senior job). I felt so bad about “letting the side down” that I promised I’d only take 4 weeks off, but ended up taking 8 weeks off (and worked from home the entire time) after an emergency c-section. My baby suffered, I suffered, and no-one ever thanked me, or even remebered the sacrifies I made. The one thing no-one tells you is how much you will love your baby and how torn you will feel to leave her behind. Take a year off at least! No-one will ever remember or ever than you for making huge sacrifices – and it will not harm your career one bit. If you are good at your work, they will want you no matter what. I knew better with my second child – I told them at my job interview that I was planning on having a baby that year and would take my full quota of maternity leave – and guess what? They wanted me anyway, and my second child got all the early attention and care that my first missed out on.
    And if you have any more kids, don;t make things harder than they have to be – wait until one of you is earning a steady wage.

    #26055
    DONOTDELETE ****DONOTDELETE**
    Participant

    I had my first child in the middle of second year and really didn’t take any time off. It was extremely difficult because I was torn between studying and spending time with my baby…my baby usually won. I ended up taking time off after medical school and before residency. Looking back, I wish I would have taken time off after my second year was over because at the time, I felt like I wasn’t a good mommy or a good medical student. I don’t think most programs are going to hold it against you. However, if you plan on going into a very competitive specialty you might want to ask more people in that particular specialty for advice. Good luck! It’s not easy!

    #26056
    DONOTDELETE ****DONOTDELETE**
    Participant

    Dear Nearly a Mom,
    I had my first child 6 months prior to medical school, my second between second and third year, and my third in my second year of residency. I only took four months off with my second and third child, I pre-arranged both with my advisor’s at the time. I was not interested in neurosurgery, or ortho, or any of those highly competitive fields that are not necessarily kind to their residents nor respect adult learning styles. I wanted to become, and am, a family physician. I went to school in Buffalo, and did my residency in Buffalo. I found people to be very supportive. Your priorities are your own! Others may have advice, but I find there are always other ways to get where you want to go, as long as you are flexible, too. Family comes first-I think our patients respect that. By caring for ourselves and our families, we demonstrate a responsibility that shows our patients we have the character to be a good physician. Good luck in your decision. P.S. In my residency, in three years there were 8 babies born to 12 residents – only one was male, and there was one set of twins. The precepting room was lined with Medela breastpumps!!!

    #26057
    jessiejessie
    Participant

    At the risk of being redundant (I’ve posted before on this subject) I will give you my personal experience. I am currently an unemployed pediatrician (unemployed because of circumstances, not my training history.) I, too, was an “older” med student–27 when I started med school. I had my first child two days before my second year of med school began. My husband had just started his residency in the same institution. My mother (who we were depending on for extra-curricular daycare) had just died three weeks prior to my delivery after a 7 mo battle with cancer. I arranged to go part time for my second year of school prior to my delivery without much difficulty. I “took off” a total of 4 days of “maternity leave” before resuming classes. I think I had 16 credit hours the first year of 2nd year and 12 the second year. Something like that anyway. There were other Moms in my school, all chose different ways of doing it. Med school does not fit the mold for “maternity leave” as most people know it so we all have to be creative and do what works for us as individuals and for our families. I agree with a previous post. It will not make a difference in terms of your career opportunities that you took off a year. I can not speak for all specialties but for the most part no one will even notice that it took 5 years instead of 4. If they do notice or you wish to point it out, you have a VERY legitimate reason for making that choice. If future employers ask you why it took you 5 years (or 6) to graduate med school perhaps it will be because they suspect that you failed a class or rotation. When they find out it was for maternity leave they will see that you aren’t hiding anything. It is not an unusual thing in medicine anymore.

    About creativity, you will need a lot of it. You can read my previous posts. My son started “day care” at 2 weeks of age (and he was hospitalized for the first week of life). Grandma took care of him for week of life 2. After that he went to a woman’s home who cared for only my son and her daughter. We had our share of headaches, not the least of which was her deciding no longer to watch him 2 weeks before my final exams. There were many other obstacles during training including difficulty matching near my husband’s fellowship program, babysitter problems, sick child care, scheduling problems (both parents of a small child on call the same night–especially on holidays–is a BIG problem!) Where am I going with all this? Life is very unpredictable though we medical people try to plan for everything. Many things in life cannot be planned for no matter how hard you try–that is the lesson I learned throughout my training. The pesky little (or huge)inconveniences that inevitably will turn up will only be magnified and amplified by new motherhood. I would encourage you to take a year off for all the reasons you have given yourself. Take the time you need to settle into life as mother and don’t try to “do it all”. You will not regret it. You are more likely to regret choosing one of your other options. Life is to short to live with regrets.

    #26058
    DONOTDELETE ****DONOTDELETE**
    Participant

    Hi, I am currently in a similiar ituation. I am currently taking my year off. I completed my boards and all I have to do is get ACLS certified to start rotations.

    I have been maintaining my knowledge base by tutoring, working as a TA, and reading books.

    I personally don’t feel it looks bad to take a year off. I think I will have a stronger showing during my rotations with a one year old rather with a two month old. I know of some people who take a year off to wait for their spouse if they are a year behind. I feel that the reason why you are considering taking a year off is valid. You are not taking a year off to travel Europe:)

    Good luck.

    #26059
    AngieAngie
    Participant

    I am currently in (sort of) the same situation. That is, if I am accepted for next fall. I am pregnant and due 3 weeks before classes begin. I am still waiting to hear from three schools on whether or not I will be accepted. If I get accepted at U of I, they offer a formal 5 year program for Moms, with the first two years being spread over three years. I will do that if I am accepted there. If not, I will take a year off before starting school since with two toddlers and a new baby I can’t imagine going full time – I will also be healing from a c-section. I took a year off undergrad with my second daughter, and I still got through school with out a hitch. None of the schools I have applied to have questioned that decision and I can’t imagine a residency program to have huge issues with it. It is a tough place to be in, especially when medical school is so important to us. However, babies grow up too fast anyway. Don’t put her health, or yours at risk, and certainly don’t miss out on those first beautiful moments with your baby.

    #26060
    DONOTDELETE ****DONOTDELETE**
    Participant

    I graduated from Medical school in 1988, at the age of 33. I took the year between year 3 and 4 off because of the adoption of a baby girl. she is now 17!

    I started my Internal Medicine residency in 1988, and matched at my first choice. I had no issues related to my leave identified at any of my interviews. I adopted my son during second year of residency. My husband took 3 months off from his job for that adoption so I could complete my residency with my class.

    I have been in private practice since 1991 and am now the Director of Medical Affairs at a community hospital in Minnesota.

    Having children has been a great joy to me. Allowing time in my career for the kids has not hurt my professional progress at all. I am sad to hear that over 20 years after I started my medical training, students are afraid to take a year of to parent. Medical training is very intense and requires the full attention of the student. Allowing time to parent makes the student better able to be successful in their training and happier in their family life.

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