Are any dr's with family happy?

Hi all,

I used to come on here all the time when I just took the plunge as an old pre-med and now I will be starting medical school this fall. Here I am…3 years older and married…and I’m very excited to finally start medical school (the long-awaited dream) and nervous, too. Way back when I was first researching this crazy endeavor that is medical school, I ventured on the OPM, Mommd, and SDN. Mommd was particularly depressing to me -because of one particular thread about mommy dr after mommy dr enumerating their regrets about attending medical school and becoming drs left me very disheartened bc I want nothing more than to be a mother and doctor.

I simply stopped going on Mommd and now, I’ve recently ventured back on and lurked. I’m just feeling really nervous. I don’t want to discount these women who have been there and done that as jaded…they are speaking truthfully about their negative experiences.

Before I went to law school, I had heard more than a few disgruntled lawyers advise against the path to law school. I did not heed the advice - think that my reasons for going to law school were well-reasoned and that I would not have their same regrets. While I do not regret going to law school (met the love of my life there), I will not have the luxury of changing my mind about medicine after having gone through the debt and time of medical school and training.

So, I’m nervous…is it possible to be a happy dr. with a family? I am certain I will adore my future children, but I am also certain that I am NOT stay-at-home mom material. My mother did not stay at home and I just don’t see it in the cards for me. I just read that book “The Feminine Mistake” and I realize I could not possibly understand at this juncture the difficulty that is balancing a career (like medicine) and a family, but people do it and I hope I can fall into that camp.

So I guess this post is to lay out my fears…and ask anyone who’s been there or knows someone who has…how you do it? are you happy?

Hm. My sister-in-law had two boys before graduating medical school and is just starting her FP residency. Her husband is a busy prof of organic chemistry–teaches, writes books, travels. They are one busy couple. Somehow they have pulled it off but it was definitely not easy. She took a couple of semesters off from medical school, I think.

In my opinion (as a male) kids are worth it. It’s sort of like going to medical school–kids make you totally busy all the time. My wife doesn’t work presently, and we have one young child, and she barely has time to breath. If you’re going to be crazy busy no matter what you do, you might as well be in med school. Best of luck,

First of all, there is a HUGE difference in going to medical school and beyond with YOUNG kids or no kids and then having little ones versus doing this with OLDER kids. You are hearing on mommd what I hear a lot around my academic center…and that is that medicine with small kids is very very tough. Medicine can be all encompassing for a period of time (medical school, residency, fellowship, and the very first few years as an attending/solo practitioner) and this does not mesh well with wanting to be a mom/wife and do it well. You hear from women physicians over and over that they also “thought” that they could do both at 100% (mothering and doctoring) to then realize this is NOT true. Something has to give, and no, you will not be able to be Suzie Homemaker and top doc. Again, as long as you go in with eyes WIDE open it should not be a problem. Medicine is all consuming period. Unless you have photographic memory in the nanosecond range you will have to put in many hours studying/ reading/going over charts/working and hence time with family (specially little ones) will suffer period. I mean residency alone is a huge time commitment! there are only so many hours in one day! so go in knowing this and you will be fine. It is worth it but does come at a price of TIME away from home.

Also, different specialties and jobs will entail more or less hours. Many folks do not want to relocate and hence their options for jobs are limited. I am sure that if you are willing to move you can find a semi-decent job with good hours. Again, you may have to move out of state but there are positions with more flexibility. I think that many folks want it all and there lies the problem. They want to be close to family, they want to be there a lot for their kids/husband, they also want good cush hours, they also want decent pay, and all of that is hard to come by! You may find the perfect job but that pays substantially less, or is far away from family…so pick wisely but be realistic. Good luck.

  • efex101 Said:
First of all, there is a HUGE difference in going to medical school and beyond with YOUNG kids or no kids and *then* having little ones versus doing this with OLDER kids. You are hearing on mommd what I hear a lot around my academic center...and that is that medicine with small kids is very very tough. Medicine can be all encompassing for a period of time (medical school, residency, fellowship, and the very first few years as an attending/solo practitioner) and this does not mesh well with wanting to be a mom/wife and do it well. You hear from women physicians over and over that they also "thought" that they could do both at 100% (mothering and doctoring) to then realize this is NOT true. Something has to give, and no, you will not be able to be Suzie Homemaker and top doc.

Unfortunately, I will fall into the camp of having young children for some part of med school and residency. I am 29 and I just don't want to take the gamble on fertility at 36. I definitely don't see myself as Suzie Homemaker, but I do hope to be a mother and doctor. My husband has a pretty high-stress job, so we would definitely need outside help with a nanny and/or grandparents. It's just so scary to HOPE that it works out for me..but there are no guarantees or crystal balls.

I’m right there with you. I want one kid and I’ll need to have that kid inbetween now (middle of preqs) and 40 (putative end of residency). I’d really like to do it before 35 for fertility reasons. That puts me right in 1st or 2nd year of med school, depending on when i get in. Hopefully my SO will be able to stay at home at least part time by then, but there’s no guarantees. I’m worried, but all of my friends and relatives who have little ones assure me that there is no “perfect time” to have kids, but that people do it and get by just fine.

I’m in your boat. I’ve often contemplated whether we should have kids while I’m in med school or when I’m done (36-ish).

I think the smart thing is to see a) where I’m accepted and b) how the first year goes.

I’ve known several women having kids in residency. They were able to get to ball games, Christmas concerts, and other scheduled events, but no way in hell could be girl scout or PTA leaders.


First, I must confess, I am a man; so I can only partially relate to your query. However, I am married & have had 2 children during the course of med school & residency - and I still have a very very strong & vibrant marriage. In fact, it is stronger now than it was when we started. BUT, I would be lying through my teeth if I told you it was not hard to keep it this way.

In my personal opinion, the grounding principles for any realy & successful relationship is honesty, communication, trust & respect. If you have these & CULTIVATE them constantly, you & your spouse can succeed as my wife & I have. If you loose all or part of one of these critical elements during the course of things, you fortuitously have the foundation to reclaim & restore them & keep your relationship alive. However, and only YOU can know whether this is true or not, if you do not have these fundamental characteristics firmly entranched in your relationship, med school & residency will only serve to undermine, worsen & most likely end the relationship.

Now, I know you did not ask for my diatribe on relationships - you inquired about children in medical school. The reason I laid all of that out there for you is that you cannot have children without a solid, successful relationship while you are in med school &/or residency…in my opinion, those premises apply across the board no matter your profession.

It akes massive amount of support, communication & compromise to pull a relationship thorugh all of this. Of course, the same could be said about married life & any other profession as well. But, medical education & training involves not only many long hours; but is does so for many years and you are continually exposed to people who are undergoing substantial life stressors. in the space of a short walk, you can go from an elated family (birth of a child, miracle save) to a completely despondant one (death of a child) throughout which you have to sustain a degree of objectivity.

My own marriage, as wonderful as it is now, was precariously perched upon the rocks during my internship. After we finally aired it all out & began to recover our relationship, we discovered what nearly ended our marriage were golden intentions on both our parts. We both felt that it was best to isolate & protect the other from our personal stressors. Neither of uss wanted to burden the other one with the things that were bothering us…add to that, we had a newborn daughter. Life stresses for both of us were massive - Wendy a new mom, continuing to work, managing childcare & trying to maintain a household largely in my absence. Me - learning to be physician, the stresses of pt care, loooooooong hours, unrelenting call, trying to study & trying to also be a husband, father & manage the household. What started out as trying to protect one another from our own delimmas bred resentment that came close to ending the relationship - hell born of golden intentions.

However, thank God, we realized we were on a downward spiral & realized that we had neglected one of our relationship premises. We had not communicated. It took a while, but we survived & our marraige strengthened. Now, with our 2nd daughter, that strength has proven unbelievably beneficial. And, we can look forward to finally reaping the rewards of the long & arduous journey we started by in 1996 together with our kids.

OMD, Thanks so much for your post…I really appreciate your frank dicussion of your relationship and the trials and tribulations of marriage, medical school and children. I really adore my husband…and love him so much for supporting me on this journey…I do think our marriage and relationship is strong and can take the obstacles life throws at us, but then I realize that many divorced couples likely had the same thoughts about their marriage at some point, too. We are committed to making this work…and I will keep your advice in mind in the coming years.

Although you are a man, it is good to hear that you and your wife have survived (not unscathed, but stronger) while your wife has managed her own work. My uncle is a great example of someone who is a doctor and happy with his career and a family man, but he also has a wife who has stayed at home taking on the primary responsibilities of keeping their house organized and children happy. While I am not knocking SAHM or the men married to the them, I just don’t see it in the cards for me.

SAHM is definitely not for everyone. My wife was 100% convinced that was the case for her…until Dillon, daughter #1 arrived, and changed all of that. This alteration has made for many additional challenges in our overall life as our plans & purchases were predicated on Wendy continuing to worl at or near full-time as a nurse. Now, she works ~8hrs/wk - a substantial income reduction. However, we have made it work.

Another point I intended to include above is one I feel is very important. A guy who was 3 years ahead of me in med school, and frankly was quite an @$$hole, told me something one evening when several of us were gathered at a wateringhole in Kirksville - “The Do Come In” (a long tradition for KCOM students). Chris told me,

“Medicine is a tough & unforgiving mistress. No matter how much you give of yourself to her, she will always demand more. She will never be satisfied with what you currently give & her happiness will always appear to be just out of reach, yet attainable.”

This was coming from a guy who had been one of the most arrogant, hard-to-get-along-with interns in an ENT program. He landed the ENT slot because it was tough & he thought he had to do what was hardest & not what he truly wanted. in the course of getting there, he ruined his own relationship w/ a long-term significant other, made himself incredibly unpopular with friends, colleagues & other health professionals. In short, he was a prick because he was miserable. However, just prior to this admission to me, he had relinquished his ENT slot for one in an OMM/FP program, which was where he wanted to be in the first place, but just could not let go of the perception of prestige of ENT.

I get asked frequently about having “life” outside of medicine. My answer centers upon what I learned from watching Chris. Essentially, you are the one who controls how much of your life medicine can consume. Granted, during med school & residency, you will not have that control and that is one of the hardest, most frustrating aspects for non-trads - loss of control of your own life. However, once you are out, you are again in control. No one, no thing & no career has any more control over you than you allow it to have. Therefore, you & your family must negotiate to define the parameters that are acceptable for you & your family.

I haven’t done my pre-req’s yet, but I’m starting soon. I did finish an internship back in 2000 to become an RD. We had our rotations during the day, master’s level classes at night, and then extra community projects to complete. It was crazy, because I would go into my cardiology rotation during the day, my physiology & Metabolism class would be covering material in renal nutrition, and then I would stay up late making a proposal for a community wide nutrition and exercise program for kids (budget and all). My brain felt like it was pulled in every direction.

My son was 3 at the time. I got to take him to daycare in the am. See him between my rotation and pm classes and then obviously at all times on the weekend. I just made the most of the time I had with them. But I’m not saying it wasn’t hard to leave my son when he was begging “Mommy, don’t go.” I took off with him when he was sick. We went to see the inlaws whenever I had a break from school. He was my main priority. So if I had to, I could make up some of the rotation or work if I had to take off. I think that in this day and age, most schools will allow for flexibility to some extend when you have to care for kids. And yes, you will have to call your instructor if your baby develops an ear infection and is screaming all night. Mommy mode kicks in and you take care of it. It does help, though to have family or friends that can help in a pinch!!

And while it was 5 years ago, I did manage to teach 2-3 kickboxing classes a week and dj at some clubs downtown twice a month. So I still had a life.

You will have to be structured, organized, yet surprisingly flexible. You can do it. It’s not a totally bleak picture.

Although, as Dave said…it really helps if you have a very strong relationship. Luckily, my husband and I did.

BTW, if it was that bad, I’m sure my husband would have objected to me preparing for this long, long road that lies in front of me.

Take care,


For what it’s worth, it’s all about communication and compromise as OMD wrote.

I’m not in med school. Heck, I just started my pre-med reqs two weeks ago. That being said, I think and feel that I do have some insights to share on this topic.

It’s definitely been a topic on my mind and one that my wife and I have discussed several times…and I’m sure we will continue to discuss it in the years ahead.

My scenario: I’ll turn 40 next month and if all goes on schedule (fingers crossed), I’ll be done with my pre-reqs in 2010 and entering medical school that same year, and done with residency in 2017.

My daughters will go from 10 and 7 to 20 and 17. Fortunately, I may have a valid excuse to miss their terrible teenage angst period. :wink:

Seriously, it will be a challenge. I have no illusions that it will be a cakewalk and there will not be days or weeks where I will wonder if the result is worth the price of admission.

What I do know is that the same principles that have made my 12-year marriage survive will be the same that we will call upon for the next 10 years. In that sense, I am fortunate to have my family situation relatively stablized compared to those with very young children or those considering starting a family during medical school.

Make no bones about it, starting a family is quite stressful the first year. If you thought marriage was about compromise, throw a baby in the mix and you can easily find yourself lost. There is no longer an “I” in the family, just a “we.” That takes a bit of an adjustment.

Losing, or perhaps more accurately morphing, that “I” is where I believe some relationships are damaged…whether it’s a relationship with a spouse or a child. It’s a difficult transition to make and those who seem to cling to their “old” life when they could do whatever they wanted with no consequences to the rest of the group, seem to have the most problems.

Now, my relationship is far from perfect and is yet where I want it to be.

Every day is a chance to start anew…


Very well stated Hak!