Considering Motherhood and Medical School

I was a Hospital Corpsman in the U.S. Navy for eight years. My specialty was medical laboratory technician. I will be attending UCONN in the fall with the goal of finishing my MLS training while taking the prerequisites for medical school. I hope the MLS training will make me stand out from the sea of traditional applicants.

I recently got married (2 months ago)and people are already asking us when We’re going to add to our family. I’m going to be 28 on 9/16 and I would be 31-32 by the time I’m done with undergraduate, and 36 by the time I’d be out of medical school. Since Down Syndrome is more likely around age 35, should We start our family sooner, at 30 and 32? I know it will be hard, but it will be easier to have two May/June babies while undergrad than two residency babies.

Since this is a nontraditional forum, I know there has to be a few Mothers on here that could give me some advice on balancing career and family. I can’t imagine not doing both of them.

Hi Kristen -

Congratulations on your recent marriage and welcome to the pre-med world! I am 38 (turning 39 this year) and have five children. My children are 7, 9, 11, 15, and 21. Having children presents special challenges to pursuing a career in medicine. I want to put my family first, but I can’t always. It really helps that my children are older. They are all somewhat self-sufficient. Family timing is a personal decision. I was a stay-at-home-mom while my children were really little. The youngest was two when I returned to the work force. In retrospect, that was too young. She still needed me a lot. Life is tough and busy with older kids, too though. Between sports and music and schools (mine and theirs), life can be crazy. I am very lucky to have a supportive husband and children.

I’m glad I’m a Mom. Having a family is the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m glad I’m pursuing medicine. Hopefully, I can be an example my children can look up to.


I agree with Linda–being a mother trumps anything else I have done or will ever do. It has enriched my life, made me a better person, and gives me unimaginable joy, despite its challenges!

Having said that, you are wise to think ahead, Kristen! It’s good to consider all the options, what you’ll be up against, and what the best plans are for each scenario.

I am 35 and hope to start med school next year. I have a 15 year old daughter (I didn’t give birth to this one, but inherited her when I married her awesome daddy…), a 5 year old daughter starting kindergarten next month, and one on the way. (Yup…didn’t see that one coming, either!!) So when I start med school, I will have a 16 year old, a 6 year old, and a 6 month old. Whew!

Is it more challenging? Yes. Is it doable? Yes. Is it worth it? For me, YES.

Here is the biggest thing that has and will continue to contribute to my success in school and family balance… my entire family lives around us. Parents, siblings and their spouses… everyone. In my case, because my husband is a pilot, it truly takes all of us some days to get the job done! But my children are surrounded at all times with love and support, and they are thriving. Is it ideally the way I’d originally planned to parent? Nope. But when I had kids, I didn’t plan on going to med school. My children are super proud of me, which helps to have the cheerleading. They’re doing great. But this would NOT be possible without the strong support structure of family and friends around us, and without an amazing husband who is my number one supporter!

Either way, I wish you the best of luck! Another site you may want to check out? … lots of good mommy wisdom there!

Take care!

Kudos to you girls for doing this with children. I studied for my MCATs a few weeks after my son was born and I’m just so thankful to have such a wonderful wife. I don’t know how you girls do it with multiple children.

Congrats KristinCorsi on your wedding!

Congrats carrieliz on your pregnancy!

Thank you!!! It’s amazing…tried for three years to no avail, and then poof…just when we’d made peace with the idea of no more babies? BABY! Lol

I am cracking up these days…when I’m not puking or sleeping. My obgyn wants me to become a partner in the practice when I get out of school…How funny!

I completed undergrad and Graduate school while single parenting a 3 year old and 5 year old. Day care was a God send, and I learned to DROP the expectations!!! Your house will not be clean, the laundry will pile up, meals will be ones of quick prepare and convenience, and you learn to say “oh well”. I also “settled” for 3.7 - 3.9 and did not push myself for the 4.0 that I am capable of. I had to balance, and sometimes that meant closing the books and going to sleep. A typical day was up at 5…get them into their clothes, fed and jam them into snowsuits, drop at daycare, drive 1 1/2 hours to make an 8:00 class, school all day, study between classes in the library, drive 1 1/2 hours back, pick them up,cook, feed everyone, baths, read a book together on the couch, bedtime. Once they were asleep, crack out the books and homework until 1 or 2 AM. Then get up at 5 and repeat. I was more sleep deprived than when my kids were infants. It was hard, intense, and insane, and my kids watched me walk when I graduated. This time around, they are 21 and 24 and launched, and I can focus 100% on school for med school. I wouldn’t regret a moment, but it was the hardest work I ever did.

1 Like

I am a mother and will be a med student in less than 2 weeks so I really don’t know much about the whole parenting in medical school thing yet

I just want to add my advice because it may help you out. Pick a good time (as convenient as you can, given your class schedule) to have a baby and try but remember that it can take a perfectly normal couple 6-12 months to conceive.

Figure out what you and your husband want, consider your support network and plan the best that you can. You can’t do any better than that.

Hey, Congrats on the pregnancy, Carrie! I’m so happy for you. You’ll do great at managing a bigger family and medical school.

So motherhood and medical school are not too bad of a combination. I’ve completed my first year and I have two children - 2 and 4. Some days are hard - you get home, you’re beat, and you still have to be a mother and a wife. After the kids are down, you’ve got to study. But, when you walk in the house after a long day or a rough test and those little people run toward you just because you walked in the door, it makes all the hard work worth it. I have found myself completely fulfilled by this life - I am intellectually challenged every single day and I am emotionally fulfilled by my family. There will be days when you will literally choose between scoring high on a test or spending time with your family - and that’s okay. Fortunately, pre-clinical grades are less important than other parts of your application for residency - so I feel confident that those choices aren’t really going to affect my future. Overall, motherhood + medical school is completely doable. Its challenging - but its worth it.

I wish I had a triple like button for SomedayDrA… I LOVE the way you described this process for you, because it’s what I long for! To be “intellectually challenged AND emotionally fulfilled” EVERY day… what an incredible blessing!

Thanks so much for a very encouraging and uplifting look at MS1 year… Such a great read!

And Shannon–thanks for the well wishes! It’s exciting, for sure… 10 weeks in, and I’m just ready to NOT be sick! LOL Just feeling really grateful that I don’t have classes to worry about right now! It’s going to be an exciting year!

I second Carrie on that somedayDrA. We need a big triple like button! I, too, am loving your description and that about sums up what I want out of life/medical school/medical career. Intellectual challenges coupled with emotional fulfillment. Perfection!

I also am very happy to hear that you have made choices against high scores in favor of your family. Still in the premed phase of my journey, I am finding myself incapable of making even small academic sacrifices right now. While I want to excel in medical school and beyond, the pressue is so high as a premed to be on top that I very rarely take time away from academics. My daughter does not suffer. I spend time with her in the evenings and on weekends, of course, but I will be honest in that some nights I am very anxious for her to get to bed so I can hit the books. It makes me feel like a terrible mom sometimes! Wow, full disclosure.

I am pulling all A’s and I feel like my hard work is certainly paying off in that respect, but I am also aware that I may need to find a better balance and I am relieved to hear from a medical student and mom that it can be done in med school. It may mean sacrificing a “top score” for some time with the family, but it’s nice to know that it’s okay to do so. As a premed I feel such pressure to get an A in everything and be even more competitive than my premed classmates just because I am an OPM and I don’t have another shot at this. I just can’t wait to get to med school so I can “relax” a little! The premed pressure is high. The pending MCAT, prereqs to finish yet, applications and interviews all can get to be quite stressful as we all know. I know I will keep up my academic drive in medical school because that is who I am after all, but at least I’ll finally be there and won’t be wondering if I’m “good” enough or “competitive” enough to get in. I know residency time will bring the pressure chamber back but I am really looking forward to just being another medical student and finally being done with the premed game. Felt good to get that off my chest!Physics in the summer has the pressure turned way up and I needed to get that out!

1 Like

Hey, Shannon -

I know that the pre-med stuff is hard and a lot of pressure. Make no mistake, med school is a lot of pressure too - but it isn’t organic chemistry and physics. I find med school to be much more interesting and its what I want to do. In terms of competitiveness in med school, that’s going to depend on your school and your personality. My school has some competitive people, but for the most part, everyone helps each other out. Also, I am able to block most of it out and just focus on myself. As a stress management skill, it really helps. Sure, my classmates have more time to study and they are generally single and without children. So, I can’t be fair to myself and compare with them - but I can look at my life and think, “Hey, this is great - I’m a mom, a wife, and I’m passing my classes!” So, some of it is definitely attitude. School choice will also matter - if you can, pick a school that is straight up pass/fail. Some schools will not even rank you in your first two years - and that takes off sooooo much pressure. Also, if you are at a school with a less stringent attendance policy, that helps to give you a lot more balance because you can be there to take your kids to the doctor, or do what you need to be a mother and a med student. Also, the material in med school isn’t hard or difficult, its just voluminous. But, at least in my school, there are 2 - 3 exam questions/hour, so you can kind of pick and choose which areas to study more - because there are simply more questions on that topic because more hours were spent on it. So - it makes it much easier to prepare for a test because there are fewer surprises than in the pre-reqs or undergraduate classes. So, as a mom, you can make certain choices in terms of picking your school that help make it more doable. Also, we’ve been able to work it out so that my husband is at home full-time with the kids - this may create financial pressure, but it makes my life so much easier. So, the other key is having the support that you need to take care of your family. Other moms do it differently - some have family or day care or their kids go to school - but its all about planning ahead and really enjoying the journey through med school. Ultimately, in school and everywhere else in life, you are in charge of your own happiness - and if you plan ahead, med school can be an amazing adventure. I feel so privileged to get to do it - it has made me happy and I am absolutely thrilled about my future career.

1 Like

Sorry for the late reply, somedayDrA. You’re input is great to hear! I do happen to have my sights on my local med school that is pass/fail and it appears they have extensive online material as well so that may translate into more flexibility with attendance, etc. So, I’m hopeful. I’m keeping positive so I will not say “if” I get in. I like to think as if it’s sort of a given. That being said, I’m working hard now to make sure I am giving myself the best chance. At any rate, the tips you have given and your insight into medical school is so much appreciated!!! Med school seems so mysterious sometimes. Even going to my state school’s website is just shrouded in mystery. What is medical school really like? Exactly what classes are taken when? What are the class descriptions? What textbooks are used? These are questions that I have and many premeds also. Questions like this are answered so easily when researching an undergraduate school, but my local med school gives nothing up. I love that you’ve given me a glimpse of what med school is like for you. I just cannot wait to get there. I also love how you point out “med school is a lot of pressure too - but it isn’t organic chemistry and physics.” I smiled at that. Physics is a lot of work and we just go so in depth with stuff I am all too aware I will not be applying in the future, but I get why I must dig in now. It’s not about physics, per se, it’s about applying information, problem solving, yadda, yadda, yadda. I get it, but I was so pleased the other day when we finally started talking about fluids and pressure and getting into some medical applications. I was actually interested in physics material for a change! I look forward to getting to medical school and being interested in most(I’m sure you can’t love every single bit) of what I’m studying. I am really looking forward to that!

Thanks again for your thoughts!

Shannon–I totally agree! It’s so hard to get a pulse on what it will really be like, isn’t it?

I know every school is different… but the University of TN (my school of choice) just underwent massive curriculum revision, and for the first time? They’ve actually laid it out by year…in pretty great detail…on their website. I’m sure it won’t be identical to your school, but it’s definitely an interesting read! Check out the curriculum section of the attached link! You might enjoy browsing through it…

Also, there is an actual draft schedule posted in their curriculum revision section for the fall semester of M1, so it gives you at least a little bit of an idea of how the day goes (at least at UT)… 20Fall%2…

1 Like

I will check it out, Carrie. Thanks for the link. My local school seems to have several different programs all in somewhat experimental phases so I think that is why there is some mystery there, but I still don’t understand why. Just tell me what to expect. When do classes start? A.M/P.M? I heard that some classes at this school don’t begin until the afternoon to give students morning time to review the material before lecture. However, I don’t see anything explicit online. They do have some schedules that are typical for MS1 and MS2’s but it’s not super helpful. I want to see a course catalog, class times, etc! I guess I’m getting ahead of myself anyway, but it would be nice to get more than just a peek.


I am a mother of two…19 and 9, I’ve been widowed for almost 3yrs now…my oldest is starting his sophomore year in college and the 9 year old has been with me in medical school.

I just finished my first year…and it was the most difficult experience of my life. Although my son is a real champ and very understanding of my hetic study schedule, I felt like I was letting him down. I was no longer able to do all the stuff we use to do together because I have to study 7 days a week, 10 to 12 hrs a day.

I tried to make sure we ate dinner together every night…and on occasion I would spend an hr with him watching tv…We talked about sports and all the things he was doing in school…But, for the most part He spent a lot of time alone…and that just broke my heart.

So, this coming school year…he’s going to stay with my mom as I start my second year…Also, Im in medical school out of the states so…I will be home every 3.5 mos…

So, yes by all means plan for the future. It is possible…and the good thing is you have the support of your husband and that’s wonderful…

Best wishes…onn your journey…

1 Like

Hi everyone,

Great topic of conversation! I am 44 and a mom of almost five-year-old twins (girl/boy). I had the intuition to become a doctor first at age 37 and then again at age 40 when my kids were age one. I wish I had pursued pre-med stuff earlier, but I really wanted to have kids (I didn’t marry until I was 36). So I continued with my social work career and raising kids. Anyway, I’m hoping to complete prereqs over the next four years and then apply to schools. I do wish my kids were older but as it stands, if I enroll in four years, they will be eight/almost nine, which I think will be fine since they will be in school for a good chunk of the day, and my husband is pretty involved. I, too, am thrilled to read somedayDrA’s post and am looking forward to med school life.

1 Like

Cool beans! We’re looking at the same school! I’m here in Memphis and I’'m praying it works out that I can get in!!!