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What would you do?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by NoPatients, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. NoPatients

    NoPatients Somebody stop me!
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    I'm 35, married, 2 young kids, and mortgage payment (just a little more than apartment rent). Wife stays at home with kids. I've been debating about medicine as a career since high school. I'm just not happy with anything else--despite 12 years of career exploration--so by default medicine is my next step.

    I have a BA in psych with general chem, 1+ year of biology, and 1 quarter of physics. I need at a miniumum organic chem and physics, but need to expand biology knowledge for MCAT too. I just don't see how I'm going to fit these prereqs into my full time work schedule along with cramming enough biology for the MCAT. I'm 35, so I don't want to piddle time away taking a few evening classes.

    I have an opportunity to earn a second bachelor's in biology by going to my alma mater for 2 years starting this fall (first week of September). It's within commute distance of my house. Wife would probably have to get a job, kids go to daycare, and we'd still be living off of loan money for tuition and living expenses, but we'd have to do that for med school too. (Hint Major debt!) On the other hand, if we kept our current standard of living after residency, I could pay off all education loan debt in 8 years or less

    School starts first week of Sept. :eek: , so I'd have to get my BS program app, loans, etc in line fast and submit a 2 week notice at my job really quick. I think the school wouldn't have much of a problem with this (small 4 year liberal arts).

    Would you do it? Is this a crazy/foolish idea? Feel free to be blunt. :oops:
     
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  3. Quix

    Quix Herr Professor
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    This seems like a red flag to me. You note that you'd been thinking about it since high school, but defaulting your way into a long, expensive, and personally and intellectually taxing endeavour should give you pause. Relationships are in particular jeopardy (especially if your wife stays at home (is she willing to support your family during medical school?)).

    Bottom line, I guess, is that you really, *really* need to explore your motivations for studying medicine before you make this commitment. You can't work during medical school (four years), and you make relatively little money as a resident (an additional 3-7 depending on your specialty), and you will likely have huge debt as a result.
     
  4. Beau Geste

    Beau Geste yah mo b there
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    I don't think it's a crazy idea - first thing first - get your application in to the school.

    Second, not knowing too much about what type of job you have now and what skills your wife has - can you work part time? Is it possible for your wife to watch the kids while you are in class and then go to work when you get home? It is possible to schedule evening/morning classes?

    You may be better off working out a game plan and then starting school in January. How are your B.A. grades? Do you really need the 2nd bachelor's degree or just the pre-reqs? Are you good at learning on your own (for Biology)?

    Maybe answering these questions will help me and others be able to answer you better.

    As for the financial aspect - I'm working and going to school so I pay the tuition up front before the semester. I've cut back on my work schedule significantly for the start of the coming academic year (my last!), especially because I'm taking Organic and Physics and need the extra time. We don't have kids or credit card debt - just a house payment and car payment. My husband is a mechanic and his salary covers the bills and my work covers my tuition and a little extra for whatever we need (vacation, remodeling, emergency, etc.). However, once I'm in med school (knock on wood) we'll be using loans to cover my tuition and expenses (including the possibility of an apartment away from home).

    The idea of going into deep debt and not being in med school frankly scares me, so I can't really give you the advice of taking out and living on loans. I would advise working, but maybe others can give you situations where taking out loans has worked for them. considering that med school will put me back somewhere around $150K or more, I hate the idea of adding more to that, but to each his/her own.

    Another option is to take the courses you need at a community college and do well. I'm going that route, but it's not for everyone. I already have a B.S. and M.S. and am just completing my prereqs. The community college also offers the courses I need in the evening which allows me to work and have time to study. Again, if your grades in your B.A. were lacking, it might be better to take the courses at the university, where you can prove yourself in higher-level bio classes.

    I hope some of this makes sense, and I'm sure you'll get other replies with other suggestions (some of which may be blunt!), but if you are realistic about your goals, then it is definitely doable. And never mind that you're 35! Age is becoming less of an issue, and everyone has an example of a non-trad fulfilling their dreams.

    Good luck!
     
  5. Beau Geste

    Beau Geste yah mo b there
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    One more thing that I thought of when reading Quix's comment - it's a good one to think about.

    In your endeavor for med school, don't forget to shadow doctors. Not only is it good for your application to med school, but it will give you an understanding of what being a doctor entails. Medicine is not all healing and big paychecks. People die, people sue, and people suck sometimes. How you feel about the profession after a hard day is key.

    I, too, have thought about med school since adolescence, but illness forced me into allied health. Now that I'm financially independent, I can go for my goals. There's nothing wrong with pursuing your "dream career" as long as you've made sure it's your dream and willing to take the good with the bad.
     
  6. Quix

    Quix Herr Professor
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    People die, people sue, and people suck sometimes.

    QFT.

    Unless you really get to know what its like, it is waaaaaay to easy to entertain ideas about the profession. Medicine is hampered by litigation, asinine hospital policies, consistently underfunded due to third-party underpayment, chock full of abuse (systematic and personal), bureaucracy, etc., etc., and it is very, *very* easy to burn out in patient care, especially in high recidivist populations (e.g., mental health and substance-abusing clients) and specialties.
     
  7. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
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    Hi there,
    You are going to quit your full-time job, apply for loans, apply for college and get your wife a job, your kids in daycare in 2 weeks. I do not believe that anything in academia works this fast especially financial aid. What are you going to do for health insurance for your family? You wife would have to find a full-time job with benifits pretty quickly because your student health insurance probably will not cover your wife and children.

    For academics: You are going to need Organic Chemistry with lab, General Physics with lab and depending on the medical schools that you apply to, Biochemistry, Genetics, Calculus etc.

    Before you put your family in this situation, take some time and explore medicine. It might not be everything that you believe it to be. Also, keep your job, take one or two classes in the evening (Calculus for example), save some money this year, allow your wife to get used to the idea, do some physician shadowing and re-visit your plans next year. You would at least be one or two classes closer to your goal.

    Medicine is a very long and expensive haul. It is even more expensive if a family and young children are involved. Being 35 or even 40 is not much of a problem but trying to rush into something that involves drastically changing the lives of your family should be avoided.

    njbmd :)
     
  8. NoPatients

    NoPatients Somebody stop me!
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    Good call on the red flag Quix. Still wonder about that myself, but there's really no way for me to know the answer any better than I do now without actually doing it. I guess by "default" I mean that someone once told me that if I can do anything else besides medicine and be happy, I should do it. I think I've tried everything else that I would reasonably want to do. I've worked briefly as an EEG tech, 11 years software developer in healthcare, and was briefly (1 course) enrolled in a distance education PhD psych program, which I realized I did not want to pursue. I've worked directly with diverse neuro and psych patients as an EEG tech, so I have a little bit of an idea of what I'm getting into--even been puked on once. :laugh:

    Wife is on-board with the medical school idea, and has volunteered to work, although she won't make as much as I do. I work as a software developer, and we live somewhat frugally already on purpose. I don't plan on working in medical school.

    Megaboo, classes are day only, and wife will probably have to work daytime too. :( I will be going full-time and begin MCAT prep right away, so probably not much time to work, although it's a possibility at the perceived expense of lower MCAT scores. I have a BA (1994) with a 3.8 GPA (graduated summa), and really just need organic chem and physics. I'm mainly leading toward a second degree because I feel that it would allow me to be more focused on the material I need to learn without trying to fit classes in in the middle of the work day. I am good at learning on my own though. Good point--I need to do more direct shadowing, despite working with patients in the past. The small college only starts the sequence of courses I need in the fall, so it's now or fall 2007. My first med school choice "strongly encourages" courses from 4 year institutions only, so I'm unfortunately avoiding convenient and cheap night classes that I could be taking.

    Njbmd, I'm going to check with profs and college offices before attempting it, but I think there is a possibility that it can be done this quickly. I just don't want to sit on my butt another year if I can get started this year. That's a wise caution about exploring, but my wife and I both feel that I've done enough exploring. She's to the point now where she's like "would you just do something instead of thinking and debating about it for years" :laugh: ...One of the weaknesses of my MBTI type (INTP) is exploring the possibilities to the point that I end up not doing anything but exploring. :D

    Great feedback on this everyone.... much appreciated!
     
  9. Ebete

    Ebete Senior Member
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    I don't see why you would want to get a 2nd degree. You already established you can get great grades, why get into another degree and waste time taking classes you don't even need? Take only the pre-reqs. , do the MCAT, shadow and help your wife with a p/t job if you can. Better yet set an appointment with your state medical school and see what they have to say. I was able to volunteer, work and shadow at the same time. I worked in an ER for 4 years (as an unit clerk...which by the way anyone can do), while there I met enough nice docs to follow around (+ get nice letters of rec) when I wasn't busy and was able to volunteer my services (translating to other languages, and/or chaperoning docs, etc...) during my numerous breaks (union job :D ) and/or after work. Also since my schedule was 7AM-3PM I was also able to take my pre-requisite classes while raising a family (4yrs later 2 kids and another on the way :eek: ) After my 2nd was born I when p/t on the weekends which allowed me to stay with the kids during the week and study. We eventually bough a house, and 3 years later are now getting ready to sell it to move closer to the med school I will attend...eventually! First I need to give birth, and take the MCAT :rolleyes: Another reason is being closer to my hubby's new job. So before you rush into a program you migh not even need check with some med schools first, get a job in the medical field where you can be flexible while making $. Don't put all the $ weight on your wife's back, she'll have to deal with that when med school comes around.
    Finally keeping your family strong and secure should now be your priority, if you do not have that, med school means nothing. So set them up first, make sure you can get a nice job that your wife can be happy with (with medical insurance) a good daycare (god knows how hard that can be to find or get into), and a union job at the hospital for you...while you do your pre-reqs. By the time you are done with these classes and ready for the MCAT, your wife and children should be settled in enough on their new routine that you can now quit your job and go full speed ahead! Sorry if I went in too much detail, I know how difficult it has been for me, I can imagine if it was my hubby doing this, I know how dificult it would be to be on the other side (as a wife and as a mom).

    Let us know what you decide, good luck.
     
  10. NoPatients

    NoPatients Somebody stop me!
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    Ebete: Thanks for the detail. It was helpful to hear about your approach.

    I have decided to wait and think about it longer. I need to look and think about more clinical psych/neuropsych. programs too. Just because I wasn't happy in one doesn't mean that there isn't another that would be more in-line with my interests.
     
  11. Ebete

    Ebete Senior Member
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    My approach was by no means to make to wait longer, but to start your goal on a different angle, so you don't have to waste any time while making life more difficult for you and your family. Again get the prespective of a medical school, then if you need to apply to a program do so. You don't want to start a program then have to quit half way (that really doesn't look good).

    Also seems to me you are not too sure about MD. Some shadowing/volunteer at a local hospital would help you a lot.

    Good luck
     
  12. J ROD

    J ROD Watch my TAN walk!!
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    Hey! I have a friend that is currently in med school and he is about to turn 41! Therefore, the age thing is no big deal. Also, no matter how much you borrow you can pay it back with a doctor's salary. I have a MBA so I have some business knowledge to back that statement up. The guy I know also has a wife and two children under five. She works to support the family and he takes out loans to pay for school. With his age and wisdom, he can balance all the various hassles amazing well. In fact at 26, I thought I was too old to try to go to med school, but he has inspired me to try. I recently got accepted into a PharmD program because that was my first choice due to it is rather easy to get in and quick to do with a good salary. For myself, ever since I was little I wanted to be a MD, but I was not willing to buckle down until I got in my early 20's. The main question you have to answer is how bad do you want to be a physician. My friend waited 5 years to go for it and regrets it. He had about the same prereqs to take as you. He did them in a year at a community college whille he worked (saved alot of money too) and then took the MCAT. Several months later, he was accepted.

    If you are not sure and really do not love it, do not do it. He volunteered at the local ER and I have volunteered as well at a Free Clinic and hospital. I shadowed too. Another thing I did is spent a day with my friend at med school. I got to go to all the classes and see exactly what everything is like. I finally found other people that love it as much as I do. I am so sure I am still going to get my PharmD in case I do not get in for financial backup and take the MCAT during the summers until I score high enough. I do not score well on standarized tests; therefore, I think med school may be out of my reach. But, I am going to find out while I get a PharmD for financial security. Because even if I do score high enough on the MCAT the first time, I will have half of my PharmD completed before I could start the MD program.

    Point to my story, is never give up if you want it bad enough. It does not matter how you start, but how you finish. My friend is in med school and loves it. He says it was the best decision he ever made. But, he also said it was one of his hardest decisions to make as well to put his family through it. As for me, I will try until I know I can't get in. Once you know and have the love for it, nothing else is good enough. I like pharmacy, but I love medicine. You may also need thick skin because alot of people may be very critical of your choice. He has heard the crap and I have too. Be confident and do want you want because you only get one life. Good luck and be sure to volunteer or get some medical experience (shadow) before you decide!
     
  13. kimmcauliffe

    kimmcauliffe Surfer Chum
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    My best advice- sacrifice now and reap the benefits later. Night classes suck, yes; but not having any money to make a car payment sucks as well. I have a family, I work full-time, and go to school full-time. It can be done- you'll work it out, whatever is important to you. :)


    Good luck!
     
  14. Uncle_Tbag

    Uncle_Tbag Of the DrGeddyLee Tbags
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    Give some thought to what impact this decision will have on your kids. With your wife working during the day, and you in med school, it could be extremely difficult for you children. I have some cousins that grew up with both parents in med school and they both turned out rather maladapted.
     
  15. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member
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    Then again, I bet we all know daycare and latchkey kids who are very mature, independent, and well socialized - and any number of maladapted people who had a stay-at-home parent full time growing up. :) It's true the kids should be given a lot of consideration. It's difficult but possible to find a daycare situation that they will enjoy going to and that will help their social development more than having a 24/7 mom in the house. That said, it would be really hard to do within the extremely short time frame originally proposed. It sounds like the OP has decided to relax and stretch things out a bit, which will hopefully let them find something the kids are happy with.
     
  16. Doodie

    Doodie Junior Member

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    my advice for you, if that is what you want and you are sure you can do it
    put a plan with your wife to put schedule and finance plan ...do it soon and start now...
    I know 2 doctors who went through what you are going through, they faced almost the same problems and they made it through'
    just follow your dream and remember to be realistic ....
    it needs a hell of work and efforts

    best of luck :thumbup:
     

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