I’m a new listener to the podcast. I am a 32 yo mother of two and recently allowed myself to actually entertain the idea of becoming a doctor. I didn’t think it was possible financially, but my husband is super excited about having me do this. He thinks we should be willing to do whatever it takes. The idea of becoming a physician is the first career that I’ve consider that actually makes sense, that I can actually see myself enjoy doing. I like to work with my hands, and the idea of literally healing people with them is the most exciting thing about this prospect. But I’m worried no one would hire me because of my age. The residency program I have my eye on is 6 to 8 years long.
I was not bothered by the length of time it would take to become an attending surgeon until I started looking into a formal post bac program. It is three years long. I still have a year left on my undergrad, so the thought of having to wait closer to 4 or 5 years before going to med school instead of 2 or 3 is a real downer. I know some do a DIY post bac. I’m concerned that the lack of extra bio courses could put me at a disadvantage academically. Would it be wise to take those classes during my glide year? Another thing that is annoying, is that I have already completed a year of physics and chemistry, but the courses were taken so long ago, I’m not sure they would count. (About 10 years by the time I apply for med school.)
I know there are other OPMs older than I, but any of them go into surgery? Is that just a pipe dream?
Hope I’m just overreacting. Maybe I just need some encouragement or perspective.
The answer is Yes! That being said, the schedule is pretty brutal. We often work the max hours allowed as residents, but that doesn’t include administrative, educational, and research work that we are required to do. When I’m on SICU nights I don’t see my husband, we are 2 ships passing in the night. We do Q3 call currently, and I have not had 2 days off together in months (excepting my week of vacation) really haven’t had a non-post call day off now that I think about it. I don’t want to turn you off of the profession, it’s an incredibly fulfilling one, but it’s a tough road. Also, many students find once they get on the wards and they learn a deeper understanding of each specialty that their preferences change, but that’s the beauty of third year as you get a chance to find what’s right for you. There are many other specialties where you do procedures (work with your hands) that have a better work-life balance then general surgery or some of the surgical subspecialties. If you have specific questions feel free to PM me. Good Luck to you on your journey! Keep us updated!
I’m concerned that the lack of extra bio courses could put me at a disadvantage academically. Would it be wise to take those classes during my glide year? Another thing that is annoying, is that I have already completed a year of physics and chemistry, but the courses were taken so long ago, I’m not sure they would count. (About 10 years by the time I apply for med school.)
You won’t be at a tremendous disadvantage academically if you don’t have a bunch of biology courses. I had the bare minimum of prereqs and I made it through. They will teach you what you need to know in med school. That said, having the additional background might make things slightly easier, but I wouldn’t delay med school for that reason.
Acceptance of old prerequisites varies by school, I was able to get in using some of my courses from undergrad that were 15 years old. If there’s a specific school(s) that you’re interested in, get in touch with their admissions offices and find out whether they would accept your previous courses. Note that some of the topics you mention will be on the MCAT, so refreshing on those subjects may not necessarily be a bad thing.
Finally, if you like to work with your hands, there are other fields than surgery that would allow you to do so with a shorter length of training. Emergency medicine is a very hands-on field (3 year residency), critical care (3 year residency + 1-2 years fellowship), OB/GYN (4 years residency) are also shorter training options. Depending on your practice, you could do a lot of hands-on work with Family Medicine as well.
The answer is absolutely. You can surely become a surgeon if you want to.
But… Go to Med School to learn medicine. You will have a chance to explore other specialties and commonly people change their mind. It is actually rare that someone goes to Med School wanting to do 1 specialty and end up doing it.
I loved surgery, really enjoyed the procedures and considered it. But it takes away too much of your life. Not worth it for me.
So yes you can do it. Just give yourself time to figure it out.
Thanks so much for the insight. I’ve done a little more research and found some post bacc options in my area that are only a year long. I think I’ll go this route especially since they offer linkage programs. And even if linkage doesn’t work, I could always take extra bio classes during the glide year. One of the reasons I never seriously considered med school before recently was that I just believed I wasn’t smart enough. That was just pure self doubt and low self esteem. I’ve found a new confidence and realize that if I just work hard, that I can do it. Sure maybe I won’t have the advantage of already being a master at biology, but I’ll be ok.
I’m very open to the possibility that I’ll change my mind about surgery. I just don’t want to give up on that idea because I’m discouraged.