5 More Years...

Hello! My name is Crystal. My life goal has always been pediatric oncology, but unfortunately life happened when I had my first daughter and became a single mom. Now I’m a 24 year old, married, stay-at-home mom of 3. As a one income family, daycare is too expensive to go back to school right now, so once my girls are in school I intend to return as well. I have 3 years of my undergrad left before med, but I’m still determined to make things happen. It’s great to find a forum of individuals who are also entering the field on a non-traditional path.

So anyway, I have 5 more years until I go back to school officially. I really want to get a jump start, not only on finishing my undergrad, but studying for my MCATs and reading up on my future career. I actually found this website while searching for books that prospective med students should read, but if anyone has any other suggestions on reading material and study material, I would truly appreciate it.

Hi Crystal. Welcome to OPM! It’s great that you want to get a jump start on things. But honestly, studying for the MCAT is usually something people do over a period of months rather than years. Doing it over a long period of time could really burn you out. Not having taken the basic science courses that are tested on the MCAT would also make studying for the exam really difficult, as you just wouldn’t have the background. A better use of your time might be volunteering (showing a long-term commitment to an organization is really important) and shadowing physicians.

I agree with Lorien. Instead of getting too far ahead of yourself, why not make sure you have everything “extra” lined up for your future success? Do both clinical and non-clinical volunteering that is meaningful to you. By the time you apply, wow you’ll have a lot of hours plus show your long-term commitment and should have several possible letters of recommendation. Start shadowing, and even consider branching out among physicians, PAs, therapists, etc. so when you get asked “why not XYZ instead?” you’ll show that you considered other fields.

And since you mention $$, also consider finances during this time. Whatever money you can slug away now will make life easier down the road when you’re still a one-income family, but also have a lot of added expenses.

If you want to stay sharp with some academics, you could do a few free courses on Udacity. Then when you’re back in school, you’ll already have been exposed to some concepts and skills you’ll need in your coursework.

I absolutely agree with everyone else. Focus more on your volunteering than prereqs or MCAT at this stage. I’m 34, just finished my bachelor’s degree, and I really, really wish I’d had more time and energy for doing more volunteering and shadowing beyond the minimum. The things you learn and the connections you can make will be invaluable for advice and support.

How are you doing Crystal? I’m a SAHM too-- actually formerly- my kids are all in school and I went back to school and do research, so I’m not at home so much any more. I would love to hear about other SAHM’s on this journey.