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Non-trad, 30 yo, Army vet (& Army brat), & mom finishing up MS1. AMA!

whorobbedthewoods

Full Member
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Jan 15, 2018
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Been ages since I've been on SDN! Used to spend waaaay too much time here looking for advice, commiserating, etc. Basically:

-title ^

-had very average stats/app; pretty meh interview cycle (all it takes is one!)

-attending a "T20" (ugh) with true T/P (yay!)

-started MS1 with a three-month-old; married & spouse works full-time

-started school in a new city w no family/friends nearby

-no docs in the family/social circle

-got no monies; GI Bill helps


Hope I can help my fellow outsiders w info, encouragement, etc. PM is also fine!
 
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penicillinman

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Aug 4, 2013
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How much time did you spend studying and how much time with the family on a typical day? I’ll be an MS1 this fall and a father of three so a tad bit anxious about that!
 
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whorobbedthewoods

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How much time did you spend studying and how much time with the family on a typical day? I’ll be an MS1 this fall and a father of three so a tad bit anxious about that!

Congratulations!! And wow, three kids! Wish there were more parents among my classmates--could use your insight for real.

Generally speaking:

-It depended on the course. At my school, the tougher & more time-consuming courses were in the fall semester. On a typical day during anatomy or biochem, I might be in class/lab from 9 or 10 until 3 or 4, then stick around to study until 6 or so (later on a rough day). On the other hand, on a typical day during immunology in the spring, I might come straight home in the early afternoon, spend the day w the fam, and not really start studying until the baby was asleep.

-I HEAVILY prioritized family time. I leaned really hard into the P=MD attitude, straight off the bat. Sacrifice time with the baby so I can get an 85 instead of a 72 on the exam?--naw. But a lot of that will depend on what kind of student you are. My outlook placed me firmly outside the mainstream of my neurotic Type A classmates--that's fine with me, but it may not be fine for everybody! And I'm yet to find how this dynamic will play out during second year & studying for STEP.

-Bonus: if you have kids who sleep, maybe you'll be in better shape. The backbone of my struggle this year was the sleep deprivation--my daughter was an especially poor sleeper (but finally outgrowing that, thank christ).

Good luck dude! It's gonna be hard, but frankly I think having a family is a secret advantage. Puts everything in perspective, makes everything worthwhile, etc. And try not to compare yourself with your childless and/or younger classmates. We're all in the same ocean but not in the same boat.
 
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Helos_to_hospitals

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Congrats to both you on the crazy work you’re doing with kiddos. @whorobbedthewoods I too am 30 and leaving the army after 8+. @penicillinman not sure if you are but if you have info please let me know. Trying to compile some schools that are pretty vet friendly and easy to work with for gi bill and voc rehab. If you guys have suggestions would love it or any advice for applying.

I’m dad of two (6 & 3) so hopefully won’t be as much a struggle as you guys are having!

Thanks!
 

whorobbedthewoods

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Jan 15, 2018
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Congrats to both you on the crazy work you’re doing with kiddos. @whorobbedthewoods I too am 30 and leaving the army after 8+. @penicillinman not sure if you are but if you have info please let me know. Trying to compile some schools that are pretty vet friendly and easy to work with for gi bill and voc rehab. If you guys have suggestions would love it or any advice for applying.

I’m dad of two (6 & 3) so hopefully won’t be as much a struggle as you guys are having!

Thanks!

Nice!! Love to hear about vets making the leap!

tbh "vet friendly" is kind of a slippery concept. There was an interesting thread from last spring (around this time, probably) where veterans were discussing our application cycles--based on our anecdotal experiences, there didn't really seem to be any difference in the love we received from schools with "vet friendly" reputations vs. those without.

That said, I think the standard response would be to check MSAR to see what percentage of students have "military experience" (keeping in mind they include cadets in those calculations). Check the VA Yellow Ribbon site to see which schools participate, and how much money they offer. Some are super stingy and limit their YR spots; some have unlimited spots and unlimited funds (those tend to be the fanciest ones with the hugest endowments... e.g. Harvard).

Again, this will only give you a very vague sense. Military experience will be considered favorably by pretty much every school. The make-up of a class varies year-to-year and can't always give you a sense of the school's attitude toward veterans. And some schools are actively taking steps to make their programs more vet friendly (mine is one example), and you won't necessarily see that kind of thing represented in the reported stats.

For example, the year before I arrived, the financial services office at my school had JUST figured out how to work with the GI Bill. So that student before me went through a lot of headache, but my experience has been smooth & flawless--and that's the difference of just one year. That's the type of minutiae/evolving situations that are hard to capture in a database.

Two schools off the top of my head that IMO do genuinely have a strong pro-vet bias (besides USUHS): ETSU & EVMS. I submitted my application to EVMS past the deadline in November, and I still received an II! And my interviewers made a big deal of my Army experience. Don't have personal experience with ETSU, but they have the most vets (outside of USUHS) and actively market themselves to vets.
 

lockedinphdjail

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May 21, 2020
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Are all the classes requiring attendance? Or are some online friendly?
Did you keep breastfeeding and pumping during the day, or any other arrangement? (I had to triple feed my baby and that would definitely not have been compatible with M-F away)
How was pregnancy during the application cycle? When was your last interview?
How are you guys managing with your partner having a full time job?

Thanks!!!
 

whorobbedthewoods

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Jan 15, 2018
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  1. Medical Student
  2. Medical Student (Accepted)
Are all the classes requiring attendance? Or are some online friendly?
Did you keep breastfeeding and pumping during the day, or any other arrangement? (I had to triple feed my baby and that would definitely not have been compatible with M-F away)
How was pregnancy during the application cycle? When was your last interview?
How are you guys managing with your partner having a full time job?

Thanks!!!

-At my school, lectures are not mandatory! All are recorded and posted shortly afterwards. However, there are still quite a few mandatory sessions: labs, small group discussions, and the weekly clinical skills class. The first class for us was anatomy, which had almost daily labs—that meant A LOT of mandatory sessions to start out the year.

-Breastfeeding was a huge challenge, and 100% my school schedule was the reason I had to discontinue long before I was hoping. My situation was just not BF/pumping friendly. There was no nearby pumping room/pod, so literally in the middle of anatomy lab, I would dip out and use the restroom (unhygienic, obviously, but I had no other option). Happy to discuss this more at length via PM!

-I hid my pregnancy during the interview cycle. The latest interview I did, I was 25 weeks (first week of February)—definitely was bursting out of my suit, but still looked more weird-shaped than pregnant. Totally your call & a very personal decision, but the process is so competitive and there are so many unknowns—I was not willing to risk my pregnancy being held against me. I actually turned down a late interview because I didn’t want to attend while visibly pregnant.

-It’s been very hard, but I have no regrets about it—I wavered briefly on asking for a deferment, but I’m glad I didn’t. The beginning was INSANELY stressful—finding childcare, husband job hunting, getting WIC set up, figuring out how to study, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, all alone in a new place, and (maybe most of all) worrying about money pretty much constantly. Once we settled in, it was better, but it’s never stopped being a struggle. The sleep deprivation was really the toughest part. How you handle it depends on so many things—a mix of your support system, some luck, and your personal traits/coping mechanisms. If you aren’t okay with just passing (or at least some of the time), and if you aren’t okay with your kid not having your undivided attention, juggling kids and school might not work out so great. But if you can embrace the chaos, accept some stress & loss of control, cut yourself and your partner some slack, all while remembering why you wanted to do this, this is the life for you :)
 
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whorobbedthewoods

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Jan 15, 2018
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  2. Medical Student (Accepted)
Congratulations on your success! I was wondering if you had any advice on how to approach writing about your military experience in the AMCAS work/activities section.

Thank you!! I started to type my reply and then realized I was having deja vu--looked back through my own comment history and found this from an old veterans' thread:

"I believe I filled four work/activities sections with Army stuff: one for leadership (one of my MME), one each for the language & technical sides of my MOS, and one for awards/recognitions (not like Army Achievement Medal (lol), but like "graduated top of my class at X training school" or whatever). I've heard that other people split it up by multiple deployments. There are lots of ways to do it! But I think 3-4 slots is probably the sweet spot. I also leaned pretty hard (possibly too much so) on my Army experience in my PS."
 
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