Another Question about where to go?????

Okay I just need to ask you guys although I kind of know what I need to do. Here is my situation, I have been offered two full rides at Mayo and Vandy (actually Vandy gave me 5 full years for the MPH too). My husband is active duty Army and has five years to retire he has been given the option of working still active duty in arden hill which is in the twin cities and it is 87 miles from Rochester and in good weather leaving around 6:00 1.5 hours more with snow/ice, or we can stay put and I drive 40 miles to Vandy which takes me 30 minutes from my door to the med school. Both schools are awesome and I like them both with Mayo winning though, but I do think that a lot of my wanting to go to Mayo is not only the small class size but the prestige of the Mayo Clinic ranked as the number 2 hospital! I do know that the hospital will have little bearing on my medical education so I am planning to apply to Mayo for residency if I go to Vandy. What do you all think?

Honestly, my off-the-cuff opinion is that you’ll think about the prestige a couple of times a month, and appreciate the class size a couple of times a week, but you’ll think about the drive twice a day.

Thanks that is what I need to hear. We are still trying to get my husband a position in Rochester but it does not look good, and of course that would be the best for then nobody is driving…keep the feedback coming folks!

BTW the class size at Vandy although nowhere near as small as Mayo is nothing huge I think about 120? or so…


I’ve lived in Chicago for 19 years, so I knew something about winter weather and winter commutes when I started here in the Twin Cities.

There are some serious problems here.

With state budget cuts and deficits, the highways are not plowed for hours at a time. There are going to be some days when you CAN’T make the commute - 12 inches of snow in a day, ice, etc. From Oct 15 to May 1, you may get stuck at one end or the other. And there are going to be some crummy drives, particularly if you’re tired.

There have been days when it has taken 1.5 hours to make a 15-minute trip to the airport. I have classmates talking about 2.5 hour commutes to outer suburbs, and one Friday afternoon, it took a classmate 5 hours to get to Rochester.

My advice is to rethink that commute between Rochester and MSP - maybe two cheap apartments rather than one nice house?




I currently live about 90 miles from Rochester and we take care of a lot of our healthcare there, so I am familiar with the drive (although I live south, not north). Anyway, previous writers are correct, there are many days when it would NOT be a good idea to be traveling. I do agree with the idea of two apartments, and also you could consider living halfway in between. Small towns (I’m talking pop. 500 - 5000) in MN are usually fairly inexpensive places to live and there are some nice little ones to choose from, if you are willing to go without the luxuries of city life. If I had to make the same choice, that is probably what I would do, having lived in the midwest most of my life.
That being said, I’m sorry I can’t give you any help on your decision. I’m not at all familiar with Vandy. I am VERY familiar with Mayo, though, and I must say I can’t imagine a better place to learn. The physicians there are incredible, with few exceptions. Not only are they very good at medicine, but they have incredible bedside manner. My daughter was very ill as an infant and we have seen almost every kind of pediatric specialist in the book. I have always been very thankful that we were/are able to take her to Mayo and can’t imagine we would have had better care anywhere else. The students we have come across have always been happy, very professional, and confident in their education.
I could go on and on, but I won’t, because I don’t want to end up making your decision even harder than it already is. I know that many of us here on OPM can sympathize with the problems of asking a spouse to relocate, especially when the places we go are not always in the best interest of their chosen career. I’m sure whatever decision you make will end up making you into an excellent physician. Question is, what is best for your relationship with your spouse?
Good Luck,


Question is, what is best for your relationship with your spouse?Good Luck,Angie

Getting up at 6:00 AM, 5 days/week for 4 years, driving in bad weather would get REAL old with me REAL fast. Winning the scholarship to Vandy would have pretty much settle the matter with me. If you have to have Mayo on your CV, you could always do a rotation there in your fourth year of med school or apply for a residency there. Good luck with your great choices!!


Honestly, my off-the-cuff opinion is that you’ll think about the prestige a couple of times a month, and appreciate the class size a couple of times a week, but you’ll think about the drive twice a day.

This made me laugh out loud! Talk about summarizing the key things in life in one pithy sentence! I’ve just come off six weeks at a clinical site that was >1 hr drive home (in good weather) every evening and uurrrgggghhhhh it got SO old. You don’t want to deliberately line yourself up for that if you can help it.

Thanks guys you are truly the best and tell it like it is! keep it coming and although Mayo is Mayo during medical school the medical eduation is pretty much homogenous at most medical schools, the real deal is during residency not that is where you truly learn how to become a physician. Regardless of the place I end up at my family is the most important asset that I have, and heck medical school is hard enough w/o adding more to it…I will also be doing resarch btw MS1 and MS2 and would probably keep going up to Mayo to do this and keep the networking going…we are still praying that he can get a job in Rochester though…

I will caveat my comments that I know nothing about Mayo’s program.
However, I will say that I loved Vandy and their program. Their daily schedule seemed very non-trad friendly I thought, with several afternoons off each week. Also, the “electives” let you explore different topics within medicine as well as the ethical, business and legal arenas of medicine. At every school I interviewed at I asked the students I met what one thing they would change about their school if they could and Vandy was they one place where the students were happiest and could think of nothing to change (and as best I could tell that was an honest response, just not people trying to sell me on their school).
Looking back over the past two years, I would argue that not all curriculums are alike. For example, I didn’t realize that my school had huge gaps when it came to ethics, business and legal topics. It’s hard to see these differences when you are looking at the catalog for guidance. So I think part of it is realizing what you personally want from the school and how the school meets those needs.
Good luck in your decision. You are in an enviable position.

Well, from personal experience I can tell you a little about commuting in Minnesota in the wintertime. Since January I’ve been driving from Minneapolis to Northfield and back 3 - 4 times a week. It’s about an hour each way, so a little less than what you’d be dealing with. Also, I was taking I-35, rather than highway 52, which I think is the main route to Rochester. (My dad actually commutes down to Mayo, where he works, from St. Paul, but he has apartments in both places.) 35 is a freeway and IT has plowing issues during bad weather, so 52 probably will too.
The commute has really been a challenge. The weather’s been wierd all winter, with LOTS of snow in February. I had maybe three seriously harrowing drives late at night, when it was snowy or icy and the plows hadn’t gotten out yet. And about ten other times the weather was just annoying, and slowed me down a bit. It usually took me an hour to get home–once, in the worst weather, it took a little over two hours. So I could imagine it taking 3+ hours on a bad day to get from Rochester to the cities. Oh, and you need a car that’s in reliable condition, for those occasional days when it’s extremely cold. Also, there WILL be times when you just can’t get there, no matter how important it is.
I’ve driven on 52 down to Rochester a lot too, since I used to get my health insurance there. At one point, I had to go down there several times in a row, and it got really old, really fast, I have to say. In rush hour it’s up to two hours each way, which you already know.
However, Rochester is such a nice town! (I was born there, so I’m a little prejudiced, but I still think it’s true.) And Mayo IS a great hospital. I’m not giving all this detail about the commute to scare you off–but just to explain what it can be like. Quite a few people seem to do these kind of commutes around here, and they get by. I think they just get used to it.
I think the best situation would be to have two apartments, like people have suggested. You’ll still end up “commuting,” but you wouldn’t have to rely on the commute every day.
Well, anyway, that’s been my perspective. Good luck making your decision!

Can you live halfway in between Arden Hills and Rochester? If Arden Hills is north of the Twin Cities or south - if you can avoid the driving through town that might help.

Yeah we have thought about living btw Rochester and Arden Hills but the town we checked into have nothing for my kids to do like some type of organized sport like hockey or dance lessons, we would still have to bring the kids to Rochester to do these activities…we are really still hoping that God will work a miracle and my husband will get a job in Rochester but maybe I am meant to stay here? I dunno. It just seems unwise to uproot everyone and have a hellish drive back and forth with the costs associated with it…when I have a perfectly great school right next door…

Well as someone who lived in Minnesota through 15 winters I can sympathize with the commuting worries. I’ve driven on some nasty winter roads and sometimes skiied to work there. - but Mayo is one of my dream schools so it would be hard to pass up. On the other hand I don’t know anything about Vandy. When do you have to decide?
Good luck to your husband in finding something in Rochester!

Let’s see–Arden Hills is northwest of Minneapolis, isn’t it? Have you thought about living in one of the southeast suburbs, like Eagan? Or Bloomington, which is a little farther west? Those places are sure to have all the same activities for kids that they’d have in Rochester. That would shorten the commute to Rochester, too. The commute up to Arden Hills wouldn’t be so bad either–since it’s just through the city, the roads would almost always be plowed and the main problem would be traffic, which is just a fact of life around here.
Another suburb that comes to mind is Inver Grove Heights. I don’t know how big it is, but the few times I’ve gone there, I’ve felt like I was driving halfway to Rochester–and yet it’s considered a suburb. Anyway, if you’re looking for different options, I just thought I’d mention the southeast suburbs, since that area might be worth checking out.
I hope that a job in Rochester works out though too!

P.S. Another town about halfway between to consider might be Faribault. It’s maybe, 30,000 people–I’m not sure.

I can 2nd that the suburbs south of the cities are quite nice, with lots of activities, shopping, etc. The communities are quite nice, but I’m not sure what cost of living would be like. It would be less expensive to live in one of the smaller towns.
The thing you need to remember about the midwest, if you have never lived here, is that public school sports activities are really accessible, affordable, and pretty decent programs for the kids. In just about any school district, the kids should have access to all types of sports, volley ball, basketball, track, tennis, football, dance team, cheerleading, not to mention band, choir, etc. I grew up in small town Iowa and had no problem keeping quite busy with clubs, sports, drama and music activities. I know that MN is pretty much the same deal. Before deciding whether or not there would be things for the kids, check with the local school districts. Education standards in the midwest are pretty high across the board, and ECs are highly supported by the communities.

Thank you guys, my hubby did talk to someone high up and they are still working on getting him a “slot” in Rochester…we will see. What happens is that all my support network is in Rochester so if I need someone to help out in an emergency or anything related to the kiddies well…if we lived out in the smaller towns we would be SOL.


What happens is that all my support network is in Rochester so if I need someone to help out in an emergency or anything related to the kiddies well…if we lived out in the smaller towns we would be SOL.

You are very wise to be thinking about this! While it is impossible to anticipate every eventuality, you can probably count on something weird happening at some point, so arranging your life with a minimum of hassles is key.

I want to echo a couple of things people have said:
Prestige doesn’t make you happy day to day–far from it. In fact, although it has its nice points, it can actually also make you bitter and make you feel as if you have sold your soul to the devil. Not that I usually feel that way, but I have my moments.
In order to not feel like you have sold your soul to the devil it is most important to follow your heart.
The problem here is that it sounds like your medical heart loves Mayo and your personal heart loves your husband and this creates a challenge.
The husband is a better long-term bet.
So, the job in Rochester for him sounds like a great idea, and I very much hope that can work out for you both.
Good luck and congratulations on such spectacular choices.