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Med Students Far From Home

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Wahoo, Jan 31, 2002.

  1. Wahoo

    Wahoo Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 25, 2001
    Hi everyone, I have a fairly difficult question for you. I was lucky enough to receive acceptances to UCSF and the UCSF/Berkeley Joint Medical Program in the past week. So far so good, right? However, I live in Virginia. Most importantly, my mother who is ill (probably terminally) also lives in Virginia. If this wasn't a factor, I would without a doubt go to UCSF. As it is, I'm pretty worried about being 3000 miles from home at a time like this.
    Do any of you have experience with a situation like this? Do any of you go to a medical school far from home, and if so how often do you get to see your family?
    Any suggestions/stories/etc are greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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  3. first of all, i wish the best for your mother. that truly is a difficult situation. i am attending school in prague, but my family (and life!!!) is in california. it is very tough sometimes, but generally it is far less difficult than i thought. i get home for around 3 weeks fo xmas and about 2-3 months in the summer. i really think that if i was in New York instead of prague i would get home about the same. the key is to set aside as much time in a block as possible and get home! i must work pretty hard to get exams done and i try to extend my xmas time by missing a few classes on the front and back ends, but the block of time is worth it. if you get a good block off, you get a chance to really spend some time with everyone you want, instead of a bunch of quick visits with most of your time spent travelling and rushing around.

    again your situation with your mother is much different than just going away to school. i think that really depends on what you feel comfortable doing. good luck and best wishes...
  4. ckent

    ckent Banned Banned

    Jul 31, 2000
    It sounds like you have a very difficult decision to make. If I were you, I would talk about your feelings with your mother and see what she has to say about this. If she says that you should go to UCSF, and you want to go to UCSF, then maybe that's just what you should do. Having a loved one who is ill during medical school is extremely difficult though, and I would also put among my options deferring a year if you think that it will interfere too much with your studies. Good luck.
  5. penelope

    penelope Member 7+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2001
    My geographic situation is sort of the inverse of yours, Wahoo...I'm from California and go to school in North Carolina. I found it challenging at first to be so far from my friends, family, and everything else familiar...except maybe Starbucks - I think that's universal. :D Anyway, I see my family for winter break, spring break, and summer break. Not Thanksgiving tho...too short a break for the long trip, especially now with all the new airport regulations. It's definitely less time with my family than I'm used to, and I was pretty homesick at first.

    All that said, UCSF is awesome and would undoubtedly be a great adventure (which is why I crossed the continent for med school), plus there's always the telephone if you start getting homesick. But your mother's illness puts the situation in a special light.

    What are your options on the east coast? In my opinion, no particular school is worth being so far from your mom at this time. If you don't have any east coast options (and even if you do), you might also consider deferring for a year to spend time with your family.

    Take care.

  6. SimulD

    SimulD Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2001
    Alexandria, VA

    It's a tough choice. I moved from Detroit to New Orleans to go to med school, and sometimes it is really frustrating. I just want to be with my mom and dad and sister, but there is no way sometimes. I'm very happy I made my choice to come down here, because I love school, but if anything ever happened, I would be upset that I couldn't be close to my family.

    In your case, you probably have to talk to your mother and maybe someone else close to you to figure things out. If you've never been away from home, it may be tough. It is an amazing opportunity to go to UCSF, but frankly, UVA is a damn good school too, and so are a bunch of others ...

    So, I wish you the best, but I just want to say that sometimes it really sucks to be away from family.

  7. I know that when all is said and done, I would be more satisfied with my life if I had meaningful, loving relationships with the people in my life, shared special times with them and was there when I needed them. While becoming a physician is also very important to me, I think in the long run, I'd be happier to strike a great balance between the two. It just may be worth it to decline the great school you are accepted to and go to a school that will give you a great education but maybe not necessarily having all of the prestige and resources of your ideal school. What will be more important in the long run?
  8. Annette

    Annette gainfully employed Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Aug 24, 1999
    The Land of Lincoln
    I'd like to eccho the other's advice, see if you can get into a nearby school. There is nothing worse than hearing over the phone that a loved one is ill, and you can't get to them. And even worse when you know just enough to scare yourself sh#&less.

    Talking to your mother might not help. I talked to mine afterwards, and she told me that me completing medical school was more important than me being there. Very brave words that had the opposite effect than she intended.

    She is your mother, and it is important to her that you succeed in the world.

    I hope that you are able to find a solution.
  9. Acro Yali

    Acro Yali Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 16, 2001
    I am also very ar from home but not seeing my family has not had that much impact on me. I fly home when there is a 2 week vacation and my parents fly here in between. So, we end up seeing each other about every 4 months. And in between, we email and talk on the phone. But, there are "local" people in my class who spend almost weekend at home though. I think ultimately, it depends on what kind of person you are (are you comfortable being on your own or do you perfer to be close to family)?

    But, I don't have a family member who is as ill as your mother and I can only imagine the kind of strain that will place on traveling. But, this is still somewhat early in the process and you still have 5 (?) months more to go before you have to make that decision, whether to really go to UCSF or not. Why don't you wait until all of your acceptances/waitlists/rejections ( :0 ) arrive and then decide what you want? That way, thats less stress on you in the mean time.
  10. Goofy

    Goofy Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Nov 20, 2001
    United States Of America
    I for one think it is an easy choice, but thats just me. Family comes first, period. If you don't have a choice of a local school, it is a different ball game. You will recieve excellent training at virtually any US medical school, and being close to your mother during this time is much much more important.

    It is easy to get consumed and mixed up in the rat race. We all fall for this at one time or another. But this is a no brainer in my opinion. Stay close to mom or defer.

    Best wishes and wish mom well for me :)
  11. squeek

    squeek Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    I am from Alaska, but I am attending medical school in New York City--a good 4500 miles distance between me and my family. After living through the World Trade Center tragedy in September, cut off from communication with my family and literally forced to remain on the island of Manhattan, I know what it is like to be so far away in difficult times.

    UCSF is a fabulous school, and it's wonderful that you have that option. But if I could do it again and remain close to my family, I would. A good education is certainly important, but family truly transcends that.

    Another option could be to defer for a year. Many schools are amenable to such situations, and your situation is certainly justifiable.

    I wish you the best.
  12. Wahoo

    Wahoo Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 25, 2001
    Thanks for your kind words and meaningful advice, everybody. I need to do a lot of soul searching over the next couple months, but your comments have been really helpful.
  13. Billie

    Billie An Oldie but a Goodie... 10+ Year Member

    Nov 30, 1998
    Cleveland, OH
    Hi Wahoo,

    I am sorry to hear about your mom. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

    You have been getting great advice, but I did want to tell you of my situation, just to give you another perspective. During my first year of med school, BOTH my parents died. My father died during the first semester unexpectedly. Then a month after he died, my mom was dx with terminal cancer and was given 3-4 months to live. So about 4 months after my father died, my mother died the next semester.

    After my dad had died, and then my mother was dx, I was ready to quit school. School was meaningless as my life was falling apart. But my mother was insistant that I finish school, telling me I MUST finish school. So I stayed in because of her. I was very distracted, and my first year (even part of the second year) grades show it!

    But my situation was a little better as my school was only a 3 hour drive from home. So I came home every weekend while my mother was ill, tests or no tests. It was important to her that I stay in school, but it was important to me that I spend as much time as I could with her those final months. And I am glad I did.

    So take from all this what you will. I wish you well and hope you can make a decision that will please you and give you peace of mind. Good luck!

  14. carddr

    carddr Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 29, 2002
    There are 3 great medical schools in VA. My advise is to contact all three by phone and explain the situation to them. There are exceptions made all the time and now is the time they are making all the decisions for next year. My experience is that family is very important and being close by ( as not having a 6 hour flight)just incase something does happen. And don't feel guilty if you don't get home evey weekend, your mother will understand and I can honestly say she would only want what is best for you. But you will be close by and that will be a comfort to her. Only the BEST to both of you.
  15. I agree, it is scary to be far away from home sometimes; especially in a situation like yours. Definitely contact your state schools and let them know your situation. I am only 400 miles away from my parents in Baltimore, but I still get really lonely sometimes. I sometimes wish that I had stayed with my ex-bf just so that I could feel like a normal person who was dating someone (even if it would have been a LDR), but I know I did the right thing to not get back with someone who wasn't right for me. but I am rambling, that is a frivolous topic on this thread. I just know that if I had been given the chance to stay closer to home I would have. However, my parents are moving up here next year so my dad can begin a new job, so that will be nice. best wishes to you.

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