Jul 19, 2009
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I hope this is the right place to ask this. I'm not currently a medical student, but will be applying next year. I'm finishing undergrad this year and doing a two year MPH program, starting in the fall. I'd love to have kids (two, maximum, though) but I'm not sure the best way to fit that in with my career. I obviously don't want to have a child now, since I'll be in graduate school starting in the fall, not ready, married, financially stable, or in a place that I'd want to have a baby.

When do you think is the best time in your medical career to have a child? Should I take time off before/during med school? Between med school and residency? During residency? I'd prefer not to wait until after residency, just because who knows how long my residency will end up being. Not to say that I'm going to perfectly time out when to have a kid (and of course this whole question depends on me getting into med school), but if you wanted to pick a good time frame to try to have a kid in your medical career, when would it be? Anyone with experience in this matter?
 

Untraditional

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When do you think is the best time in your medical career to have a child? Should I take time off before/during med school? Between med school and residency? During residency? I'd prefer not to wait until after residency, just because who knows how long my residency will end up being. Not to say that I'm going to perfectly time out when to have a kid (and of course this whole question depends on me getting into med school), but if you wanted to pick a good time frame to try to have a kid in your medical career, when would it be? Anyone with experience in this matter?

This is relevant to my interests. My sense is that at some point you have to decide which of family or career development are more important. You wont be able to manage both effectively so your life planning should focus on timing your transition from career growth to family.
 

Momentum70

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you can do 3rd and 4th year in 3 years. I had a few classmates that got pregnant during that time and when they were near their delivery date they just stopped rotations then spent a few months with newborn, then started up again. It gives you a year of vacation to use.
 

TexasPhysician

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I've had classmates have babies during MSI, MSII, MSIII, and MSIV so it is doable whenever you want. None of these students will need extra time to graduate. It isn't easy, but doable.
 

LizzyM

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There is no "good time" to have a baby. You make the best of it whenever...

I teach many fellows and I always seem to have a pregnant one in class.
 
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Fourth year of med school is a good time, as you can arrange a schedule as easy (call-free) or difficult as you wish, and can choose the block of time you want to take off. You might also consider taking the year off after you graduate and delaying the match for a year (had a friend who did this and she did fine). Taking off during residency can work if you are allowed vacation and a maternity leave back to back, without implied pressure that you have to get back to work as soon as possible (some programs are more family friendly than others). Also delivering near the end of residency works as the last year one generally has electives that could be chosen for low work hours and clustered into the last months.

TexasPhysician is right that you can make any time work for you (especially with trustworthy family or hired support), but for baby #1, it is so hard to go back to work after just a month. With baby #2, I found that one doesn't mind getting back to the world of grownups so much.
 

Law2Doc

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Fourth year of med school is a good time, as you can arrange a schedule as easy (call-free) or difficult as you wish, and can choose the block of time you want to take off. You might also consider taking the year off after you graduate and delaying the match for a year (had a friend who did this and she did fine). Taking off during residency can work if you are allowed vacation and a maternity leave back to back, without implied pressure that you have to get back to work as soon as possible (some programs are more family friendly than others). Also delivering near the end of residency works as the last year one generally has electives that could be chosen for low work hours and clustered into the last months.

TexasPhysician is right that you can make any time work for you (especially with trustworthy family or hired support), but for baby #1, it is so hard to go back to work after just a month. With baby #2, I found that one doesn't mind getting back to the world of grownups so much.
You can't really plan this kind of stuff. More than a few people have thought 4th year of med school would be good, only to take a lot longer than they thought to get pregnant and end up pregnant during intern year. FWIW, med school is going to be a better time than residency, and if in residency, later is going to be better than earlier. As far as putting off things, taking a year off after second year of med school is a pretty natural breaking point. Third year is the toughest year in med school in terns of hours and intensity, so that may be a negative in terms of both being pregnant, and in getting home to care for a little one. As folks have mentioned, third year is really a series of independent rotations, so it's not inconceivable to miss part of third year and pick up the rest later and extend your med school attendance by a year. Fourth year is more laid back as you have more elective time, but you probably will have sub-I requirements which will dwarf some third year rotations in terms of intensity, and you also will need to interview that year (and may be regarded differently by some fields if interviewing while pregnant (I know, it's illegal, but it happens)). So the short answer is, there is no good time. Starting earlier is probably better. Med school is better than residency. First year of residency is going to be the worst time.
 

The Poet Sings

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the women in healthcare forum might be of help. i found this thread to be interesting, and hopefully helpful for those who end up having babies after med school. http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=710682

i'll definitely have to start having kids way later. not married yet, and my boyfriend and i will be in different cities. so even if we did get married during med school, i'd rather not have to go through pregnancy and raising a child by myself.
 

Sammich117

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This worries me all the time, too. Having a family is a big, big priority for me which makes the whole med school route a bit tough. I agree that there's no 'good time' to get pregnant throughout it, but you'll definitely make it work.

Plus there's the whole, making time to find a guy that's worth making that an option... lol.
 

Geekchick921

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As everyone else has said, there's no best time. You just have to decide which time is the least of several evils for you and make the best of it.

Personally, my husband and I wanted at least one child before I would start medical school. Our daughter is 15 months old and I will be applying this year. We have been together since I was in high school and always wanted a large family. We did not want to try to have to adjust to being parents for the first time while I was in medical school, same goes for residency. We also didn't want to put our family plans on hold for 5 to 10 years, especially with a family history of infertility that made us worry about waiting until we were in our 30s (this proved to be a non-issue, I got pregnant almost immediately with Geekchicklet). That said, plenty of people DO wait until medical school or after, especially if they weren't married beforehand, and make it work.

I am very happy with our decision. It is hard to study sometimes, when I need to devote attention to our daughter, but my husband is very supportive and will often keep her occupied for me while I do my MCAT prep work. Having a supportive partner is KEY in this. He is 100% behind me becoming a doctor and he helps me as much as possible. We are a great team. As a bonus, if I get in this cycle, the year I start residency will be the year she would start elementary school, so if we decide to move, we will not have to take her out of an environment she just got used to and friends she just made.

I actually met with the director of admissions at my first choice medical school about two years ago and we talked about this as well. She said beforehand is good, and people often take a year off after MS-2/taking the Step 1. Lots of people do it for research, or to complete a masters, or volunteer overseas, but others take the time off to have a baby. A lot of women try to plan for a late MS-4 baby, since the time around/after Match is often a free-for-all. Those are just times where, scheduling wise, it's particularly convenient, but people make it work at other points all the time.