Can someone who's been through it answer this one?

Hi all,
Whew! Well, been buried with Kaplan MCAT prep, working 10pm to 7 am at Wal mart, sleep, etc. I’ve noticed lately that my family (wife and kiddos) see each other about 30 minutes a day except on Friday night (2 hours) and Saturday night after the full length practice runs.
Which leads me to a question…How bad is med school in terms of time commitments and then residency? Anyone started with kids age 6 or so? I figure they’ll be around 14 when I finally finish a 3 year residency. The family is the most important thing and I don’t want to ‘lose’ them along the way.
I do know that I won’t be working during med school and it’ll be my full time job. Residency is another story and I’m wondering about that, plus the usual dues paying when you first start out.
What started this line of questioning? I was talking with a friend last night - albeit one who has a comfortable engineering job and is the subject matter expert in what he does, kids already in college, so it’s just him and the wife and a fairly secure future - and he pointed out that most people pay their dues when it’s just them and the spouse, think about startup costs, how old are the kids going to be, etc. It almost came across like he was saying to not do this. I’ve noticed that most people think I’m crazy for doing this now…
Anyway, sorry for the disjointed post, but can someone shed some light on the realities of it all?

Hi there,
The realities of it all is that during residency, you will spend a great deal of time away from home and make a salary somewhere in the $40Ks. If you elect to do surgery, you are going to be away from home at least 80 hours and some rotations like trauma and transplant are allowed 88 hours per week.
The non-surgical specialties are less demanding in time but don’t expect to be less than about 60 hours. Once you are done with residency/fellowship (if you elect to do a fellowship) and are in private practice, your hours can be quite variable depending on how much money you need to make. Again, the non-surgical and non-subspecialties pay less.
Medicine is never going to be 9-5 even if you are a dermatologist. You can elect to practice part-time but that may not be an option until your loans for medical school are paid off. (This can can cause a few lean years if you went to a very expensive school or have borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars).
This is not an all-or-nothing proposition because, you can choose to be a part of your children’s lives and you can make time for things that are important to you. Make no mistake, medicine is time consuming but it does not have to be “all-consuming.” Medicine also demand constant study even if you are done with medical school and residency. You still have to have a minimum number of contact hours of continuing education to maintain your license.

Okay after a grand total of four weeks in residency, how have the hours racked up for me? Three nights out of four, I am home for dinner. I will have left the house long before anyone else is awake. One weekend out of four, I’m away altogether; two weekends out of four I’m home one day of the two, and one glorious weekend (the “golden weekend”) is free to savor. This is on a call schedule where I stay overnight every fourth night - that means I go into work at 6am one day, and come home after 12 noon the following day. The post-call day (when I come home in the early afternoon), I am pretty worthless because I’ve gotten little to no sleep on call, so I take a nap from 2-5, get up for a few hours, then go back to bed. And am definitely misfiring on the cylinders when I am allegedly “awake.” But I AM at the dinner table.
Medical school is definitely not that bad. Classroom stuff during the first two years can be up to 40 hours a week, but usually is considerably less, and the study time is yours to structure in a way that suits you and your family. You DO need to put in a LOT of time, but it is eminently do-able. Third year is fairly demanding but there are still lots of down periods… an awful rotation in surgery, with hours 430am to 800pm every day, plus call, will be offset by a cush rotation in psychiatry or primary care. Plus you still get some vacation time. Fourth year gives you lots of free time, I am quite nostalgic for it at this moment.
Anything worth doing is going to be hard, in my opinion. And keeping your family intact certainly ADDs to the challenge. But it is not insurmountable. I had teenagers while in medical school, and I’ll see your 6 year old and raise you a 17 year old any day.

Thanks all. I was hitting a bit of a low moment, working overnight, studying in the afternoons and evenings and not seeing the spouse/kiddos as much as I wanted to. It’s been interesting to say the least.
I kind of figured that the schedule would be one you could work around. Just a matter of prioritizing what’s important.

Just for comparison, Corporate America jobs are no longer 9 to 5 though not nearly as bad as residency. I find myself doing e-mails and phone calls by 7 am and with both national and international sites (the jobs we outsourced to India) I am often on conference calls well into the night. Computer upgrades and system changes take place at night so 3am status calls are the norm. My significant other spent literary all of last weekend trying to solve issues with a system change. Pagers, cell phones are expected to be on at all times, nights, weekend, vacations, (i was once on a conference call while visiting an aquarium with a whale show going on in the background!). So while residency is the worst, a “good” corporate job quickly degrading. The hours that you will spend in medicine should be compared to what working hours are becoming. One of the reasons I finally made the jump into pre-med was because if I was going to work this hard, I’d rather do something I like.


One of the reasons I finally made the jump into pre-med was because if I was going to work this hard, I’d rather do something I like.

Amen to that, Rich!

I’m going off on a tangent here (or maybe a cosine).

Corporate America work is also an odd form of sysiphian torture. Long hours and, in many ways, irrational and mind-numbing repetitiveness that bring frustrating stress and no sense of purpose or accomplishment. With another merger in my bank, replete with complete changes of systems, methods, etc, the work of the last 3 to 4 years that I have done are washed away. Yet the same problems, issues, disorganiztion remain. The possibilities for intellectual challenges, personal growth, and fulfillment of existence are not to be found. This is a major factor for my in moving back towards medicine