tigress

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I used to be active on SDN. Years ago. 3 years ago I deferred my seat in med school for a year because I'd just had a baby (his 3rd birthday is Tuesday). Then I decided to relinquish my seat, and I've actually been a full-time mother for the past 3 years. I have 15-month-old twins now too. And I'm separated and will be divorced come November. So yeah, I'm a single mother with 3 kids.

I want and need to start on a career path NOW. And what I still love more than anything is medicine. My family members who are practicing physicians are encouraging me to look into becoming a PA. My good friend who is in med school with a 2-year-old and another on the way is discouraging me from pursuing medicine. And most of the time I think I'd be insane to try to go to med school now.

But. I don't know. I went to an info session for the local PA program today, and I just felt...not good about it. I've talked to plenty of PAs who love their jobs. And I do like a lot about the profession, and I'd love to be involved in medicine without the degree of stress, responsibility, time commitment, etc...but it's not being a doctor. Obviously. It's just not the same thing.

I'm not sure what I'm looking for here. For the most part I think there's no way I should even contemplate med school at this point. I need to start making money to support my family. 4 more years of school, and then residency...that's a long road. And I know what's involved, as I went through it with my (ex-)husband. Mostly I just can't imagine the stress it would put on my relationship with my children.

On the other hand, maybe I'll never really be happy unless I do what it's been sort of obvious I'm cut out to do since I was really pretty young.

thoughts?

[I wanted to add: I think that if I were to apply now, using my existing MCAT score, I could explain to the local school that I've taken off the past 3 years to be with my children and now I'm ready to return, and I might have a good chance of being re-accepted. I'm not sure I'd have as good a chance at getting into the PA program, actually.]
 
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just one

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Some real soul searching will need to be done to determine if you can handle having your three kids be constantly shuffled to and from family members or babysitters while you study for classes, prepare for boards, or are out of town for rotations. I think it is going to be hard for my wife and child to handle me being gone so much, I can't imagine being single with three kids.
 
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I think my problem is that I've been searching my soul for 3 years and I still don't know :laugh:

I was so into the whole admissions process back when I applied. So obsessed with MCAT scores, essays, LORs, the whole shebang. My life has changed so much since then. But when I'm totally honest with myself, yes, I still want to be a doctor.

Sometimes wanting to do something, or even having an actual "calling" to do something, isn't enough, though. I have to be practical, especially since I have 3 little people depending on me.

I do have family support. I currently live with my parents, and I have a large extended family living locally.

I think it is important to note that I have a *strong* medical background. My (ex-)husband thinks I could pass Step 2 if I took it right now. (I wouldn't come close on Step 1 though :)) And I am in general a fairly humble person, but in all honesty I do seem to have a special aptitude for medicine.

I'm hoping there might still be some people around that will remember me from back when. You can see my post count--I was very active here for a while :) Anyway, it's not that I expect anybody to have magic answers for me or anything. I just can't figure out how I'm supposed to...well, figure it out. When I think about being a doctor, not about the path there but about actually practicing, I feel like that's where I belong. (And I do think I'm realistic about practicing medicine--I know it's no utopia.) But when I think about getting there I just get overwhelmed and think I'm insane.

Of course it would be a huge transition for my children. I've been with them constantly their entire lives. But they aren't going to be little forever.

yeah, obviously I'm very confused
 

ChandutheMagici

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But when I'm totally honest with myself, yes, I still want to be a doctor.

Sometimes wanting to do something, or even having an actual "calling" to do something, isn't enough, though. I have to be practical, especially since I have 3 little people depending on me.
I'll give you some advice a former (deceased) mentor gave me. People used to come up to him all the time asking him what the road to being a successful magician was (he'd been on Carson, Sullivan, Etc). He used to ask them if they wanted to be a magician or they needed to be a magician? His point was that you could want to be anything, but if you truly needed to be something you'd find a way to make it happen.

When I read your post, I'll admit, you sound a lot like me. You sound like you need to be a physician. Can you see yourself fulfilled doing anything else? I know I can't.

I just can't figure out how I'm supposed to...well, figure it out. When I think about being a doctor, not about the path there but about actually practicing, I feel like that's where I belong.
I think you've already figured it out. Don't think about getting there. Take one day at a time, you know, all that stuff. Yeah, the road sucks at times, but working a different gig, where you're not truly happy is by far and away worse (all the while having a nagging regret in the back of your mind) then what you have to go through to be a doctor. Medschool and residency are for a finite period of time. The alternative would be forever.

Anyway, good luck. And when you graduate we better see a success post :thumbup:
 

QofQuimica

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Welcome back, tigress; it's good to see you. I'm very sorry about your divorce, but congrats on the twins.

You and I talked a lot the year we applied, and I know how much your family and becoming a doctor both mean to you. I wish I could tell you that sure, you could go to med school and it would all work itself out. But you know yourself that it wouldn't be very easy. Doing it as a single mother with three toddlers seems to be just, well, setting yourself up for major frustration. You're a mortal woman; it's impossible to be everywhere doing everything for everyone. Particularly since you need to start working quickly, I'm not sure that I disagree with your friends and family. But then again, I'm practical to a fault. What can I say; it's part of my charm. ;)

Anyway, I'm glad you're back on SDN. PM me if you want to talk, or even just catch up.
 

punkiedad

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I'll give you some advice a former (deceased) mentor gave me. People used to come up to him all the time asking him what the road to being a successful magician was (he'd been on Carson, Sullivan, Etc). He used to ask them if they wanted to be a magician or they needed to be a magician? His point was that you could want to be anything, but if you truly needed to be something you'd find a way to make it happen.

When I read your post, I'll admit, you sound a lot like me. You sound like you need to be a physician. Can you see yourself fulfilled doing anything else? I know I can't.

I think you've already figured it out. Don't think about getting there. Take one day at a time, you know, all that stuff. Yeah, the road sucks at times, but working a different gig, where you're not truly happy is by far and away worse (all the while having a nagging regret in the back of your mind) then what you have to go through to be a doctor. Medschool and residency are for a finite period of time. The alternative would be forever.

Anyway, good luck. And when you graduate we better see a success post :thumbup:
Just be able to toally articulate your support system for your kids to the ADCOM and let the rest flow. You obviously have passion and a loggical progression.....no need to have a good memory when you tell the truth. Best of luck to you. If you want it bad enough or need it, you will find a way
 

sindadel

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It sounds to me like you should definitely do medicine and not PA. Whether you should do it this year, or next, or 5 years down the road is really the question. What kind of financial support are you entitled to from your stb ex-husband? What kind of custody arrangement are you going to have? If you are living with your parents, what kind of childcare are they willing and able to take on for you? Apart from tuition, what kind of $$ are you going to have to come up with?

BTW, I have three kids myself, including three year old twins. I'm starting med school in 5 days.
 

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[I wanted to add: I think that if I were to apply now, using my existing MCAT score, I could explain to the local school that I've taken off the past 3 years to be with my children and now I'm ready to return, and I might have a good chance of being re-accepted. I'm not sure I'd have as good a chance at getting into the PA program, actually.]
I am not sure that a 3+ year old MCAT score is going to be useful to you. You are likely going to have to re-do that exam but find out for sure by checking with the schools that you are applying to. Your first stop should be the school that you deferred.

If PA isn't for you, it isn't for you. Everyone isn't cut out to be a PA (or a physician for that matter). You have to live with your career choice ultimately. If medicine is what you want, find a way to get it done.

I can tell you that if you applied to my schools after being away for three years, we would ask you to update your MCAT minimally. We would also want to see some recent coursework. That's just us but get some info and get moving so that you know exactly what you need to get yourself ready for application.
 

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I remember you. I would think about this a LOT (agree with Q) and to be honest going to medical school NOW with three little ones and YOU being the sole provider is not the best idea. I would wait until they are older IF you still want to pursue this madness. Medical school will always be there for YOU.
 
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Thanks for all of the replies. I really appreciate all of the thoughts.

I would only be appyling to one school. It is one to which I was accepted last time around. It's the only school locally, and obviously I need to continue to live near my family. They accept MCAT scores that are less than 5 years old, so I'm fine there.

If I decide this is what I need to do, I can't figure out if it's better to go ahead now or wait until my children are older. If I did the latter, I'd still have to find a well-paying job, and it's difficult to find something that pays enough to cover childcare with enough left over to be worth it. If I apply and am accepted (obviously a big if), and then start next fall, by the time I finish my older boy will be almost 11 and my twins will be 9. I don't really know how helpful it would be to delay any number of years, though...I mean really, when is it a good time, when you have 3 kids? I suppose if they're older and more self-sufficient, but I know somebody whose father went to med school when she was a teenager and she just sort of felt abandoned to take care of herself...

I don't get any money from my ex because he is unemployed. I can't really count on long-term support from him. I live with my parents now, but I can't imagine continuing to live here for years to come. So I'd have to take out cost-of-living loans to cover rent, and to start there would be childcare and then school. My family would help a lot, with childcare in the evenings and weekends (and of course the kids' father will be around too), and financially as well.

I mean, I still think it's crazy. I do. I just can't forget about it. I thought I was doing okay with my decision not to go, but obviously I'm not.

thanks everybody
 

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I remember you as well and I am sorry to hear of the turmoil in your life. I was also someone who was never able to put to rest the desire to go to med school. I graduated in '90, worked as a biomedical engineer in a hospital, volunteered as an EMT and thought I would be happy with being in a clinical environment at work and getting some pt interaction as an EMT. I left work to be a stay-at-home mom and when my daughters were starting school I decided to go back to school too. There was still a nagging little voice that thought "what about med school?". Well, here I am almost 9 years later. Post bacc, med school, entering my last year of residency and I have never been happier. As another poster mentioned, some people want to be a doctor and some people need to be a doctor. I was one of the latter. Despite a wonderful family and great career, my life was not complete until I took this path.

However, following this dream has been the hardest thing I have ever done. Balancing a husband, 3 children (my son was born 2 weeks into MS1 year - surprise), and maintaining my sanity has not been smooth sailing. I dealt with a devastating bout of depression during my intern year which nearly forced me to leave medicine.

I did med school with 3 kids. My girls were 5 and 7 when I started and my son was born at the beginning of MS1 year as I mentioned. The only was I was able to do this was through extensive family support. My husband has a good job and we were able to afford a nanny during the week. My parents live nearby and have filled in the gaps when my husband is away on business internationally. Residency is a much harder schedule than med school.

I think you can do this...it just will take some planning and much determination. What do your parents think of your plans? Their support is imperative for your success. I highly recommend having a therapist or mental health profession to meet with during this journey. By the time I realized I needed help my depression had become very serious and earlier intervention would have saved me much grief. Good luck. PM me anytime.

Deirdre
 

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I am not sure that a 3+ year old MCAT score is going to be useful to you. You are likely going to have to re-do that exam but find out for sure by checking with the schools that you are applying to. Your first stop should be the school that you deferred.

If PA isn't for you, it isn't for you. Everyone isn't cut out to be a PA (or a physician for that matter). You have to live with your career choice ultimately. If medicine is what you want, find a way to get it done.

I can tell you that if you applied to my schools after being away for three years, we would ask you to update your MCAT minimally. We would also want to see some recent coursework. That's just us but get some info and get moving so that you know exactly what you need to get yourself ready for application.
Right on. Sorry that this happened to you at this stage. At least I think it's better that it happened now rather than if you were in medical school. You said your family is willing to support you financially and provide child care. That's great, I would not have advised you to go to medical school if you did not receive their support. While you may be academically qualified (given the fact that you were accepted 3 years ago), if you really want to go back into school, you will have no choice but to retake the MCAT and maybe take higher level courses (or do a one year SMP) - UNLESS you can petition the school that deferred you to let you back in.

Personally, if I was in your situation, I would do everything I can to get back into the school that originally accepted you. Doing so would save you so much time and headache. Instead of having to review and retake the MCAT and spend another year applying, you will be much better off contacting them and asking them to readmit you. Call the school up. Contact the admissions dean at the school. Take a copy of your letter of acceptance to them and tell them your life story for the past 3 years. I would do everything possible to exhaust that option first instead of spending thousands of dollars retaking the MCAT, reapplying, and taking other unnecessary science courses.
 

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tigress

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My MCAT is from 2006...you still think I'll need to retake it, even though the school says it accepts scores that are less than 5 years old? As far as the coursework, I graduated from college 5 years ago, and I also did a semester of graduate work in immunology (I left that program after one semester). I know that technically my existing coursework meets the requirements for this school, as far as how long ago I took the courses, but y'all still think I'd need to take more? Just to show that I'm still academically capable, or what?

The school where I accepted a seat and deferred was far from where I'm now living. I have no family there. *If* I decide to pursue this, it would be at the local school here. I was accepted here when I applied originally, but turned down that acceptance due to my situation at the time (pregnant and my husband in school elsewhere). It was originally my first choice school, because I wanted to live near my family, but when I found out I was pregnant my options changed.

If I think this over a bit more and decide to go forward, I do think my first step will be to contact the dean of admissions at the school here and just go in and tell my whole story and see what is recommended as far as reapplying. The truth is, while yes I've been out of school and work for a few years now, I know that I'm actually far more responsible and mature than I was 3 years ago. I'm much better prepared emotionally to handle med school and residency (and life ;)) now than I would have been before. But obviously my life situation is so much more complicated, and that will be a strain no matter what.
 

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My MCAT is from 2006...you still think I'll need to retake it, even though the school says it accepts scores that are less than 5 years old? As far as the coursework, I graduated from college 5 years ago, and I also did a semester of graduate work in immunology (I left that program after one semester). I know that technically my existing coursework meets the requirements for this school, as far as how long ago I took the courses, but y'all still think I'd need to take more? Just to show that I'm still academically capable, or what?

The school where I accepted a seat and deferred was far from where I'm now living. I have no family there. *If* I decide to pursue this, it would be at the local school here. I was accepted here when I applied originally, but turned down that acceptance due to my situation at the time (pregnant and my husband in school elsewhere). It was originally my first choice school, because I wanted to live near my family, but when I found out I was pregnant my options changed.

If I think this over a bit more and decide to go forward, I do think my first step will be to contact the dean of admissions at the school here and just go in and tell my whole story and see what is recommended as far as reapplying. The truth is, while yes I've been out of school and work for a few years now, I know that I'm actually far more responsible and mature than I was 3 years ago. I'm much better prepared emotionally to handle med school and residency (and life ;)) now than I would have been before. But obviously my life situation is so much more complicated, and that will be a strain no matter what.

That sounds like a plan. I didn't realize the school that you deferred from was not the same school where you live close to now. As far as going in and talking to the dean. I would absolutely suggest that you do that. The fact that you withdrew from a graduate program and turned down all the medical school acceptances that you received would be a red flag if you decide to reapply again. Do everything to get into the school were you were originally accepted to first. It will save you time and money. If that doesn't work out, then we'll have to figure something else out
 

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I remember you. I would think about this a LOT (agree with Q) and to be honest going to medical school NOW with three little ones and YOU being the sole provider is not the best idea. I would wait until they are older IF you still want to pursue this madness. Medical school will always be there for YOU.
Agreed. You have to do what's best for the kids first, and THEN what's best for you. So at least let them have a parent and some financial support until they are in school, and then you can see if doing something for you is viable. The whole "need to be a physician" stuff mentioned by a prior poster is well and nice, but it doesn't contemplate having primary responsibility for 3 infants -- who need to be fed, changed, etc 5+ times per day, and probably all don't sleep through the night regularly. Most people say having one baby is a full time job, and medical school is a full time job, so it's rough to have both, but when you triple it, and are doing it alone, it becomes an extreme sport.

Several years as a student and then resident is not conducive to being a single parent for multiple babies, nor is it bringing home the bacon to support them. Once the kids are away in school most of the day, then sure, you might have a little more time to work with. And med school will still be there. You will probably have to retake the MCAT in any event for any med school other than the one you left, so it probably doesn't cost you much.

Keep in mind that in much of third year, there will be call nights you won't be coming home, and days you will be coming home and needing to just go to sleep, not take over baby duty. There's a huge difference between what's involved in the first two years of med school, and what's involved thereafter. Most of the people saying "go for it" are probably thinking of the more regular (and classroom optional) first two years, and not what comes later.
 
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So any ideas what to do if I decide to delay applying by a few years? As far as I can tell, I need another degree anyway. With just an undergrad degree in biology, I've yet to find any jobs that pay enough to cover childcare for 3 children and leave enough left over. I think many women in my position, especially ones without family able to care full-time for their children, end up working multiple jobs and relying on government assistance. I'm lucky to have family to help financially, and parents to live with (though they work more than full-time, so they aren't a childcare option)...but I need to find a well-paying job.

For what it's worth, if I did go now, my kids would be 4, 2, and 2 when I started. Young, but not babies. The two hardest years in the process would be MS3 and PGY1...for the first, I'd be looking at having a 6-year-old and two 4-year-olds, and for the latter I'd have an 8-year-old and two 6-year-olds. Like I said, I do have a very good handle on what's involved in this process...which is why I realize that I'm insane to be considering it. But knowing that and accepting that are two different things, I guess.

So I guess what I'm looking at is figuring out some sort of short-ish professional degree to do now, and then working, and then figuring out along the road if I should go back and try med school...or signing up now for 4 years with no income followed by at least 3 with minimal income, but then practicing medicine. It doesn't matter how much I'd make as a doctor--it would be enough, as I don't mind living frugally while paying off loans and such. For me the financial worry isn't as much the cost of education as just not having an income for so long. I know from going through it with my husaband that I could get enough money via loans, since I do have my family helping. I'd end up in a lot of debt, but who doesn't.

So...what it comes down to is if I want to be a doctor, is it better to be away from my children a great deal when they are 6 and 4, and then 8 and 6 (and the next two years as well, so from 8-11 and 6-9...first year of residency being most time-intense but the other two obviously not being walks in the park), or is it better for them to be older? The only person I know who has any personal experience is a friend whose father was in med school when she was a teenager, and she felt abandoned to take care of herself because she could...then she was in college during his residency so she wasn't around anyway. I just really don't know that it's better to do it when they're older. My answer might just be that it will never be a good time so get over it and find something else to do with my life. I just haven't figured that one out yet, in spite of thinking about it way too much for years.
 

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...My answer might just be that it will never be a good time so get over it and find something else to do with my life....
It will never be a good time, but there are better and worse times. I know a number of folks who went back for degrees when their kids were in high school and it worked out fine (although they weren't single parents at the time). I think once you get past the younger, formative years, and the kids start being monopolized by school, after school activities, etc. your time becomes more your own, IMHO. And it's helpful if they understand at least a little bit where you are when you aren't around, rather than just appearing and disappearing. Just my 2 cents. I don't think anyone is saying it will never be possible to do med school, just that with infants/toddlers the demands on you may be too steep for this undertaking. At any rate, only you can decide what is involved here in terms of how present/absent you can be. But as you know, in medicine you will be locked into a path that is going to demand a lot of your time, and in motherhood you are locked in a path that demands a lot of your time, and there are ages at which that overlap of demands works better than others.
 

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Hey girl!

I remember you.


Tigress, do you think you would be comfortable studying from scribes, taped lectures, self-guided study etc, your first two years of school?

Are you open to DO schools?

When I was accepted my MCAT was pretty old, maybe 7 years old?


Take care!


MH
 

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I'd also look into schools that have independent study tracks like Ohio State. Also, make sure you know what each schools' student health policy is for getting coverage for dependents. It was a rude awakening for me when I found out my school doesn't cover dependents.

Also, my suggestion would be (if you're not uber pressed for time) to wait on med school until your twins are school age. Public school will free up a lot of your time and will make your day care dollar go farther. The time waiting will also give you time to save up money and get your financial house in order. Just a thought.

I hope you have some family help or a healthy support network of friends. Every little bit will help.

Good luck! Keep us posted. I actually think if your path is well-thought out you can do the med school route.
 

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From your first post, it seems like your heart is set on being a physician, you want it, but now that you're a mom, you are second guessing if being a good mother and not losing time with your children is something more worthwhile than pursuing a career you've always dreamed of. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's sort of the feeling I get from reading your initial post.

I was in your shoes 3 years ago. I graduated with a BA in Biology, was about to take the MCAT when my grandmother passed away. I bombed it of course, I got an 11! A lot of things were happening in my family at the time in addition to the grieving and I decided that I wasn't good enough for med school, but since my grades were good I applied to a top private school in my state for an accelerated nurse practitioner program (it was along side the PA program). I thought that it must have been a sign. I hated nursing school from start to finish. In fact, I transferred out of that program to get my 2nd bachelor's in nursing instead of the masters (just so I finish something). I hated school the whole time. I knew before I got there that it wasn't for me. To prove a point, 6 out of our 30 people class are now either medical students or pre-med students like me working as nurses and on their path to med school.

If being a physician is something you want, something you need deep down inside, no other profession will replace it. Your children will thank you for it later. My parents and I came with my little brother (5 at the time) from another country and my mom and dad did their USMLEs while we were growing up in US, they did their residencies and fellowships and now they are practicing physicians. I don't remember being deprived of their time, and I don't remember thinking that somehow what they did prevented them from being with us as much as they could have been. But both of my parents are very busy, but they are happy in what they do and they cannot think of doing anything else (their friends were trying to talk them into doing research or even told my mom that after being a physician for 10 years, she should go to nursing school here in US because that would be "easier on the family" and "the kids.") Some people blamed my mother for doing what she did and called her selfish. Same for my dad. Whatever - those people are all quiet now as both of them practice medicine in their respective fields.

I would say go for it. Do what you gotta do and if you feel it in you, you'll do it and no one will stop you.