Dilemma- Accept UCLA Acute Care PNP program or keep trying for Med School

Hi all,

I am 31 and I always wanted to be a doctor.Life however intervened and like many I had a really rough and traumatic childhood and long story short was homeless at 15 and won many scholarships to colleges but was so traumatized I dropped out and by the time I made it back to college I convinced myself nursing could fulfill my love of medicine, while allowing me to quickly provide for myself. However, EVERY DAY as a nurse I have regretted not fighting harder for my dream. I got married last year and we are trying to have a little one. (I am a NICU nurse hence massive paranoia towards all the things that can go wrong the longer you wait to have kids). I just still feel such an emptiness career wise because I know I could have been a great MD/DO but I let it slip through my fingers. But I dont know if I can find happiness as an Acute Care PNP, married and with a family… or keep pushing for becoming a doctor and risk a unhappy home? I must preface I had given up on my doctor dream until I met my husband and he said to me he noticed I never stopped wanting to become a doctor so why dont I try. However, I rushed it and did not score as high as I could have on the MCAT so Caribbean schools are the surest chance I have while state school are a gamble. Of course, we are newlyweds so going off to grenada does not seem like the best choice. I just feel so conflicted. I cannot tell if I am just so stuck in the past holding on to this dream that I could be happy career wise otherwise? OR if I will always be unhappy until I become a doctor. A friend told me once not all of our dreams are meant to come true. Sometimes we need to determine which ones are more important to us and of course family and making my marriage a great one is. But I feel heartbroken as I think of never becoming a Neonatologist (oh did I mention that… so I am looking at 10 years!!!).

Any kind words of wisdom is appreciated

Your dilemma is, of course, one only you and your spouse can answer together. But I want to make a couple of comments about what I read in your post. You mentioned not doing well on your MCAT. One bad MCAT score doesn’t necessarily doom you (though you didn’t give specifics, so I’m not sure what kind of deficit you are trying to overcome). If you are a competitive candidate otherwise, retaking the exam (and doing very WELL!) could change things for you in terms of getting into a school in the United States. I’m not telling you to retake the exam, mind you – just exploring your options with you. Caribbean schools should really be a last resort, if any resort at all. I say that having had a very dear friend attend one briefly. Medical school outside in the Caribbean is NOTHING like medical school in the United States in terms of resources, living conditions, and a host of other issues. Those all need to be taken into consideration. Just some thoughts … best wishes to you.

Career choice should not determine your happiness; no matter what you do in life the onus is on you learn contentment and find satisfaction in the labor of your hands. There is an older gentleman who works full time at one of my local grocery stores. He’s not a manager, he sweeps floors, greets customers, and works the checkout. He is one of the most content, happy people I have ever seen…why is that? Perhaps he is a retiree, just wasting time earning minimum wage in his golden years…that’s possible. No matter the case, here you have someone who is content with working for $6.75/hr, for people who are 1/3 his age. I can’t imagine there are many prospects for someone in his position. Why is he so happy? Because he chooses to be. He chooses to smile and have a good time. He chooses to enjoy his life.

You have an idea that you might be happier if you were a doctor…the thing is, you’ve never been a doctor before. So, how can you know this? It is not that being a doctor would make you happy, you are searching for something to bring you happiness. This is not something you can search for…you already have it inside of you to be happy. Your friend is absolutely right, not all of our dreams are meant to come true. Most of them never will, that’s what pushes us.

Whatever you do, don’t pursue Caribbean schools. Even the top four are a gamble. Statistics will tell you that there is a significantly lower portion of students who pass the USMLE. That says something. If anything, go DO. Otherwise, if you feel that you will never be happy unless you are a doctor, then I would submit to you that the issue is not about becoming a doctor, it is that you are convinced you need x, y, or z to bring you happiness. In that case, once you are in med school it will not longer be “only med school will make me happy,” it will become “only surg/derm/rad will make me happy” or “only the onc/PhD program will make me happy.” It never stops.

My advice to you: take the opportunity you have immediately available to you. Let it pan out for a number of years; if, after plenty of real world experience, you feel that you still want to pursue medicine, then by all means go for it. Enjoy your new marriage, don’t be so quick to subject it to the rigors of med school. Take a long walk, a deep breath, a couple of drinks, and realize that it will be okay if you decide to not do this right now. Live your life and find out how to be happy with where you are at. Already, you have something that many doctors wish they could have but probably never will - a family.

@snanoo wrote:

A friend told me once not all of our dreams are meant to come true. Sometimes we need to determine which ones are more important to us and of course family and making my marriage a great one is.

I take it your “friend” has some unfilfilled dreams and is passing their crap onto you? If the “dream” is playing in the NFL as a 3 foot tall little person then yeah, that may be unrealitic. But a spot in medical school isn’t out of reach unless you: 1) Give up or 2) Not give it your best shot. IMHO, a low MCAT score speaks to an inabllity to take the exam which can be worked on and improved with VERY hard work).

@snanoo wrote:
But I feel heartbroken as I think of never becoming a Neonatologist (oh did I mention that… so I am looking at 10 years!!!).

IMHO, there are 2 great times to embark on something like med school as a Mom, when they’re very young (before grade school) or almost out of high school. Since you obviously have the support of your new husband, I say keep working (effectively) on improving your MCAT scores and apply!

One last comment, it’s very true that career choice doesn’t determine happiness, but neither does being in a career you only partially enjoy.

PS- If med school is a real dream of yours, it will NEVER leave you. I’ve been “premed” for 30 years, so you can trust me on that! :wink: