poohstixx

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My husband is 33 years old. We have two children, ages 5 and 2. He is a Radiology Tech (CT and X-ray) and has been for 9 years or so. He is very interested in going back to school to possibly pursue radiology. We have been discussing whether or not to move forward with this for several weeks and I was wondering if anyone had some advice or suggestions.

There are a few things we are concerned about...

My husband did not have the best GPA for his undergrad, below a 3.0. He has his two-year degree for rad tech and a 4-year degree in Exercise Physiology. However, he does have many years of experience in the medical field and we're hoping can do well enough on the MCAT. He also has had several offers from physicians that he works with for references. Is it worth the try??

We are worried about the cost. I am a clinical therapist and work full time. I'm sure we would have to move. This would mean selling our house and we figured moving into an apartment. We would plan to sell one of our vehicles as well. Any suggestions/experience with going to med school with a family? How do you afford it? Are scholarships/grants difficult to come by? How much could we count on for student loans? Any special programs for non-trad. students with families?? How much debt should we anticipate accumulating?

Our other concern is moving our children. We assume we will need to move for med school, then residency and probably a permanent position. Any thoughts or expereinces with this?

We are in the very early stages of this whole process. Any information or advice is greatly appreciated!! Thanks!
 
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cpants

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It's going to be a long and difficult road. Think long and hard about the financials and the time commitment. 33 is pretty old to be starting medical school, and you husband won't likely start until he is 35-36, assuming he will need to do prereqs, study for the MCAT, and apply (which takes a year in itself). He wouldn't be a resident until age 40, putting in 80+ hour weeks for 5 years (while your kids are in grade school) making probably less salary than he makes as a rad tech. In the end he will be about 45, making radiologist money for the next 20-25 years. Don't forget that medical school can cost upwards of 250k dollars, depending on where you go. Best of luck to your family.
 

DrMidlife

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...33 is pretty old to be starting medical school...

Pretty old my fanny. This is the nontrad forum, where there are a bunch of us starting med school over 40. Our mod njbmd started at 45 and is now a vascular surgeon. I don't think age is in the top 5 reasons that the OP's husband might not want to pursue med school.

To poohstixx: Working backwards, here's a framework for you.

Radiology is a minimum of 3 years of residency after med school, more for any specialization. It's a competitive residency because of the lifestyle that goes with it: you can work a 40 hour week, sitting down. So your husband needs to be very successful in med school to get into this specialty. Meanwhile, that 3-5 years of residency pays maybe $40k, and is an 80 hour work week. (Also, being fixated on one specialty before beginning med school is a mistake. You have to rotate (which means "work") through all specialties during med school, regardless.)

Med school is 4 years during which you easily accumulate about $250k in student loans. If you're lucky you'll have interest deferred during residency, so you don't have to make payments then, so you should PLAN on having $400k debt on the other side of residency. The last 2 years of med school are an unpaid warmup for residency, where an 80 hour week sets you up for competing for residency. The first 2 years of med school are the equivalent of a 25 credit all-science courseload (think 25 hours of undergrad class, where you need to study 2-8 hours a day after class). Plenty of young fathers and mothers make it through med school, but keep in mind that you're broke, exhausted, stressed and doubting yourself constantly.

Getting into med school means competing with 45,000 well-qualified youngsters for 18,000 seats (for MD schools), and/or competing with about 10,000 well-qualified youngsters for about 4500 seats (for DO schools), and/or thinking about the Caribbean. Nobody cares about your personal statement, life experience, or winning personality until AFTER you make it past the automatic GPA/MCAT screen. Unquestionably, a sub-3.0 GPA is under the cutoff. In my opinion, your husband needs to raise his cumulative and science undergrad GPAs to a minimum of 3.4 for MD school, 3.1 for DO school, and either way needs over 30 on the MCAT.

There are dozens of us in this forum who started aiming for med school over 30, with a sub-3.0 GPA. We go back to school, usually for multiple years, and/or do a medical masters program. The first item of business is to fix the undergrad GPA, and keep in mind that the "a" in there stands for average. So, with your husband's 6 years of undergrad at (call it) a 3.0, he needs to spend 4 more years in undergrad, full time, at a 4.0, in order to end up with a cumulative 3.4. This is WAY too much, and is a strong argument for pursuing DO school, and/or doing an SMP (medical masters).

In your shoes, I would encourage your husband to take one hard science class, after work, at a university. If he gets an A, then it's reasonable to keep thinking about it.

Lastly, the best advice for anybody who wants to go to med school is this: if there's ANYTHING you could be happy doing instead, do the other thing.

Best of luck to you.
 
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smarttee88

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My husband is 33 years old. We have two children, ages 5 and 2. He is a Radiology Tech (CT and X-ray) and has been for 9 years or so. He is very interested in going back to school to possibly pursue radiology. We have been discussing whether or not to move forward with this for several weeks and I was wondering if anyone had some advice or suggestions.

There are a few things we are concerned about...

My husband did not have the best GPA for his undergrad, below a 3.0. He has his two-year degree for rad tech and a 4-year degree in Exercise Physiology. However, he does have many years of experience in the medical field and we're hoping can do well enough on the MCAT. He also has had several offers from physicians that he works with for references. Is it worth the try??

We are worried about the cost. I am a clinical therapist and work full time. I'm sure we would have to move. This would mean selling our house and we figured moving into an apartment. We would plan to sell one of our vehicles as well. Any suggestions/experience with going to med school with a family? How do you afford it? Are scholarships/grants difficult to come by? How much could we count on for student loans? Any special programs for non-trad. students with families?? How much debt should we anticipate accumulating?

Our other concern is moving our children. We assume we will need to move for med school, then residency and probably a permanent position. Any thoughts or expereinces with this?

We are in the very early stages of this whole process. Any information or advice is greatly appreciated!! Thanks!


Has your husband considered PA (physician assistant) school instead? It is different then being a MD of course (there is not as much independence among other things) but considering your situation I think this could be a good option for your husband and family. It would still take some work to get in to the program because of the low GPA, but his medical experience combined with raising his GPA would make him more competitive. PA's do specialize in radiology and can practice in that field after completing an accredited PA program, also with a little experience you can make a pretty good salary as a PA. The lifestyle of a PA greatly differs from that of a physician being that they generally work a normal 40 hour week and most PA school programs are only 2 years long, 3 at the most. If you do decide that MD is not the route you want to take i would definitely consider PA as an alternative.
 
N

njbmd

My husband did not have the best GPA for his undergrad, below a 3.0. He has his two-year degree for rad tech and a 4-year degree in Exercise Physiology. However, he does have many years of experience in the medical field and we're hoping can do well enough on the MCAT. He also has had several offers from physicians that he works with for references. Is it worth the try??

We are worried about the cost. I am a clinical therapist and work full time. I'm sure we would have to move. This would mean selling our house and we figured moving into an apartment. We would plan to sell one of our vehicles as well. Any suggestions/experience with going to med school with a family? How do you afford it? Are scholarships/grants difficult to come by? How much could we count on for student loans? Any special programs for non-trad. students with families?? How much debt should we anticipate accumulating?

Our other concern is moving our children. We assume we will need to move for med school, then residency and probably a permanent position. Any thoughts or expereinces with this?

First things first in this process, you can "think" about moving etc but your main thoughts have to be on getting into a school in the first place. This is no easy or quick task. Your husband hasn't taken the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and hasn't floated an application yet. The next thing is to know how competitive your husband would be for medical school. This means first, calculate an undergraduate GPA and see where that stacks up. Having a uGPA under 3.0 isn't going to be competitive for either medical or PA school in this country.

While having loads of clinical experience and letters of recommendation are nice, having a solid and above average uGPA/MCAT are going to be the main determinants in entry into medical school. If you husband isn't competitive, are you going to do more post bacc coursework to get competitive? Depending on uGPA, this may take more than a couple of years. In addition, the MCAT is no "chip shot" either. A solid score on this very important exam can take months of preparation.

Once the application is competitive, it generally takes a year to go through the application and interview process with plenty of uncertainty and expense. You need to figure out which schools your husband would be competitive for and apply. At the end of the interview process, there may still be a waitlist or no acceptance. Again, before you look at selling the car and house, you need to be much further along in this process.

Finally, most medical schools will have loan budgets that will cover tuition and modest living expenses. People who have families will generally wind up borrowing additional funds(make sure credit is very good) to keep the family afloat along with working spouse. Still, it's not an easy road ahead financially. Scholarships are generally based on incoming uGPA/MCAT levels and may be an option if your husband incoming is well above average (or performs well above average) in medical school. There are also Public Health Scholarships if he elects to enter primary care (not radiology) that will pay year for year or the Armed Services which will demand service in return for covering medical school costs.

The best thing to do at this point is to figure out what your husband needs to do now and take each step as it comes. There is plenty of uncertainty in this process but it's is doable with a family. When the family is involved, it's tougher but with planning, it can be done.
 

dragonfly99

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Agree with njb and drmidlife,
except that drmidlife is wrong about the length of radiology residency...it's 4 years because you have to do 1 year first (internal medicine internship or "transitional year" internship) then 3 years of radiology.

As far as paying for medical school, for most people it is entirely loans. The 400k may be a high estimate of the debt he'll end up with...but at least 150k I would say, and probably more. Some of it depends on whether you would plan to work vs. not. You wouldn't have to necessarily move for med school AND residency AND getting a first job, but you can expect some moving at various points. Sometimes folks stay @the same place for med school and residency both, and many stay in the same city after residency when they get their first job as a doctor.

I don't think he's too old for med school, but seriously he needs to think about whether he wants to lose that kind of time with you and his kids. I mean, he's going to miss their school events, etc. and you guys won't have much money (unless you too have a good job) for the next 7 years or so, if he does this.

The first thing to do would be take one or two science-major biology and chemistry classes at your local 4-year university. Call the school and find out which ones premedical students would be taking. If he can ace those then think about trying for med school. I think DO is his best shot as MD schools generally won't take someone with less than 3.4 or so cumulative GPA...if you are an underrepresented minority they might take you with just a little lower.

Another thing your husband MUST consider before even thinking about medical school is that he may likely not be able to get a radiology residency. It is one of the most competitive fields in medicine and many (I would say probably most) of the folks who start out thinking they might want to do it are not able to get a spot. You pretty much have to be in the top 1/3 of your class at least, which is hard to do...remember these are the folks who had 3.5+ GPA in undergrad and are very driven to compete. I don't think he should go to med school at all unless he would be fine with doing radiology OR a number of other different specialties.

If he just wants to pursue more advanced studies having to do with radiology, I actually think PA school would be a good thing. They also like people with work experience. Remember, if he goes to MD or DO school, they are going to force him to study a lot of stuff that he might not have a lot of interest in (i.e. genetics, biochem, etc.) and he will HAVE to do it all and HAVE to do very well if he wants a radiology residency. I think someone who is a good student, with excellent related experience, could probably "track" themselves into radiology either during or soon after PA school, and he probably won't have to stress about the potential of getting in to his desired field of radiology vs. not getting in. Trust me - many if not most of the folks who thought they were going to do dermatology, plastic surgery or radiology during medical school are doing internal med, family practice or some other specialty b/c it's the specialty they had the grades to get in to.
 

chewsnuffles

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As stated above, calculate the number of credits needed to get the GPA to something in the 3.3 range. Next, have him take the AAMC MCAT 3R test and see if he can get at least about a 28. If he can't, its going to be a LONG road ahead (especially since test 3R is easier than all the rest...)

He really needs about a 35 with a 3.0, and trade off for each GPA/MCAT point, i.e. 3.2/33, etc. to even have A SHOT at MD.

Consider DO may be a bit more accomedating to someone who is a non-trad as well as possible to get in with a lower GPA as long as he has a higher MCAT (3.0/27ish with that great clinical experience is good)

Finally, PA option could be the most effective if the primary reason your husband wants to be an MD is an increase in autonomy, it could give increased responsablity and more interesting case work without requiring quite as much effort
 

Steiner

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This situation sounds very familiar to my own. I'm not as old, but started med school with a 4 year old, and a 2 year old and had another one the day after our last final exam of first year. I am hoping to go into Radiology as well. My undergrad GPA was ~3.0, I had a Grad Degree in Ex. Phys. and a high MCAT. I am proof that it can happen.

Family and med school is doable. It will require a tremendous amount of family support. School does take up as much time as a full time job at a minimum. You really can't know the stress it will have on the family until you're in it, so it's not worth it to try and explain how to deal with it. I just try and make sure I dedicate time to my family as well, but there are times when I have to tell my kids I can't play because I have to study.

The moving thing is also a question mark. A lot of schools take their own students as residents, so moving again after med school might not be a forgone conclusion. It is feasible that you will move once for med school, than not be faced with the decision to move again for 9 years: 4 years of school, 1 year of prelim, 4 years Radiology (this is the actual minimum for a radiologist). Also, most people get jobs from the connections they make in residency, so you may not need to move again except out of your own desire.

Most schools have plenty of financial aid available for family support. You just have to have them adjust your cost of attendance to include the cost of renting your own place and supporting a family. For me that included proof that I had kids, lease, utility bills, daycare contracts, they even said my moving costs could be included in my cost of attending first year. The only bad thing is that once you get over a certain amount per year, you're taking out gradplus loans which are higher interest and un-subsidized. Personally, I am looking at ~280000 in debt once it's all said and done, but I go to one of the most expensive medical schools in the country. We also get medicaid, although as a student I am ineligible so I have to buy the school's insurance. Foodstamps, energy assistance, day care assistance. These area all ways that help curb the cost of a family and medical school.

Good Luck
 

Steiner

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Getting into radiology as a DO is very difficult. Not impossible, but close. This is from a residency director themselves, not me. It was on sdn a while ago.
 

OncoCaP

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My husband is 33 years old. We have two children, ages 5 and 2. He is a Radiology Tech (CT and X-ray) and has been for 9 years or so. He is very interested in going back to school to possibly pursue radiology. We have been discussing whether or not to move forward with this for several weeks and I was wondering if anyone had some advice or suggestions.

There are a few things we are concerned about...

My husband did not have the best GPA for his undergrad, below a 3.0. He has his two-year degree for rad tech and a 4-year degree in Exercise Physiology. However, he does have many years of experience in the medical field and we're hoping can do well enough on the MCAT. He also has had several offers from physicians that he works with for references. Is it worth the try??

We are worried about the cost. I am a clinical therapist and work full time. I'm sure we would have to move. This would mean selling our house and we figured moving into an apartment. We would plan to sell one of our vehicles as well. Any suggestions/experience with going to med school with a family? How do you afford it? Are scholarships/grants difficult to come by? How much could we count on for student loans? Any special programs for non-trad. students with families?? How much debt should we anticipate accumulating?

Our other concern is moving our children. We assume we will need to move for med school, then residency and probably a permanent position. Any thoughts or expereinces with this?

We are in the very early stages of this whole process. Any information or advice is greatly appreciated!! Thanks!

There are tons of people with experience in making the transition to medical school. Chances are that you will find that it won't be worth it and won't be what you are looking for. However, you won't know until you check it out and medicine can be a very rewarding field in many ways (I really enjoy it and your husband might also).

I'm assuming that you love and enjoy your children and their little sayings and questions. If your 5 year old wanted to be a fighter pilot / doctor / lawyer / President of the United States what would you tell him or her? "Well, let's get kindergarten out of the way first and after you learn how to read, write, and do math let's look at the possibilities again. If you work really hard you just might get to realize your dream. Keep dreaming big and working hard and good things will happen."

Although your husband is much older, he is in some ways exploring the possibility of a whole new world much like your children are learning about the world around them. Don't take this the wrong way, but the fact that he has 9 years as a radiology tech will make very little difference on whether he will make it or not. It really doesn't even matter if he would be a good radiologist. What matters is whether he can make the grades and scores to even qualify to compete for that. There are many people who would make excellent radiologists who will never ever have the chance to train for that kind of job. There just aren't very many radiology residency positions, and radiologists want to keep it that way (why invite more competition?).

At this point, I would say it's worth taking an evening biology or chemistry class at a nearby college and seeing how it goes. If it's an easy "A" (as it should be) maybe he could start taking more difficult classes. If it doesn't work out you will have lost relatively little. He should repeat every single pre-med class that he didn't get an "A" or "B" in or that he took many years ago. Let's get that GPA above 3.5 if possible. He should try to take these classes at the best (most respected) school he can (if you have a respected university near you, they often offer classes by extension). Your husband can take pre-med classes until he meets all the requirements (which can be found on the web site of the medical school of his choice) and stay in touch here along the way. He should make sure that he makes almost all "A"s. One he has a good GPA and a few classes like Organic Chemistry under his belt, he can look into preparing for and taking the MCAT. Until then, there really isn't any point in worrying about this any more that it would be worth your children to worry about what exactly they will do for a living ... that is far far far away. It's fun to dream and take a few steps to test the waters. You never know; your husband could find a career he really enjoys, whether it's radiology or something else. Have fun and enjoy your marriage, kids, friends, and current jobs. Don't wait to enjoy life. It goes by fast.
 

DrMidlife

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Getting into radiology as a DO is very difficult. Not impossible, but close. This is from a residency director themselves, not me. It was on sdn a while ago.

Mmmkay, first problem with the above is that the "DO side" has its own residencies, which are filled with about 40% of graduating DOs. There are 14 radiology programs open to DOs, not to MDs. So if the argument is that you shouldn't do DO if you want to do radiology, that's ridiculous.

The second problem is that one residency director, no matter how spiffy, can hardly speak for the rest of residency directors.

Third problem: SDN is a decent second opinion on lots of stuff. Quoting SDN as a primary source is laughable, particularly if you don't link to the conversation.

Lastly, radiology and the other ROAD residencies are really hard to get into, period, whether you're a DO or an MD.
 

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to address a couple areas from op -

I can relate to your hubby + dr midlife, I decided on this path around age 35 and, several years later, look to be starting next fall. Couple things that surprised me, referenced above, is no one cared about my cool work experiences, grad school grades, and unique background. Schools care about undergrad grades and mcat scores first, interviews and personal statements next, experience with medicine to some extent, but lots of kids get in with only "volunteered during college" clinical experience. Not that your husband's experience is not great, it just won't get him an interview absent improvements in undergrad gpa + strong MCAT.

My kids + spouse agreed to move, given there are around 129 schools at the moment (allo), one of our criteria for applying to a school was that the med school location was conducive to staying put for residency-- better odds of this at a midsized or larger city with many teaching hospitals in the area. If we had to move to attend school & would be in a city hopefully for 7 or so years, that'd be reasonable in my thinking. Remember, none of this is as easy as staying in the current job, current house, etc.

But although I agree that spending time w/kids is important, It's similarly important to do what makes one happy.. kids will be gone; spouse and career are there for the long haul..I'd hate to hit the point where my kids were in college (when I'm 51 for my younger one) and I'd given up on this path. 33 is the new 23. (says my hopeful thinking)
 

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To OP. If your husband really, really wants it and prioritizes it, with all of your support, he can do it.

I followed a similar path. At 35 with never having a science class above a high school chemistry (which i got a C in 15+ years before) I started with Chem I, then ChemII, Physics I,....etc. Got As in all, except for OChem (B in both). It was hard, but doable.....

You will need committment on both sides and unbelievable time management skills, but here are my bullet points:
--Don't give up and you will find a way in....persistance....never, never give up.
--Network. It is amazing who else he will meet in his classes or connecting with the med and pre med group (this was big for me)
--Time management!!!! I would argue, I spent more QUALITY time with my kids and did better in my job. Because of knowing EVERY SECOND of the day was accounted for, I blocked out time with kids, wife, studying, class and work. NOT A MINUTE TO WASTE.
--Get used to getting by on 5-6 hours of sleep a night. It is doable, with a cat nap of 10 minutes sometimes.

These are just my experiences. I will start school in the fall..lldon't know I have the financial end worked out yet though...thought I did, but with the market the way it is, I need to expand options...I know I will find a way though. It is just a matter at weighing all options and finding the best fit (might be military, but if that is what it takes , especially to have more $$ so my family does not suffer, I will do it)

In any event, what we are all talking about it preparing him for the incredibly difficult life of medicine.....it is about planning, executing, reflecting, adjusting and replanning, etc....

By the way, we did this wife my wife working full time, a baby with a bad case of epilepsy and a teenager.....IT IS DOABLE.

Sorry to all for the long post, but while it is good to look at everything, it is possible to have paralysis by analysis.

Best of luck to you and your husband.
 
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