Do residents/med students have time for family?

I’m reposting this in this forum because it was either a). An incredibly boring topic, b). It was in the wrong forum, or c). Readers in the other forum really didn’t give a hoot!

Anyways hopefully I get some feedback here.

Well as the title suggests I am rather in a quandary.

I met a girl a while back. She is in CA and I am in MN. We talked, and talked (and talked lol) and after a few trips to CA and spending time together we realized that we wanted to take the next step and get married.

Well I understand that the initial euphoria of having found someone and love and all that stuff often clouds sensible judgement so I decided to post this on here in the hope that people will opine with a little more dispassionate perspective than ours.

The story goes thus:

I quit work in June to complete my premed classes full time. I’ve been living off of my savings and the way I have it planned the rest of my savings should be able to tide me over the next couple of semesters. Hopefully by then I should have most of my prereqs done. I do intend to work full time during my glide year whenever that comes around.

Well as for us, we plan on getting married in August. She works and plans to take 6 months off after getting married and then working full time again. She understands where I am and what I plan to do.

The question is, are we being overly optimistic and fools in love by trying to get married and starting a family with everything I am planning on doing. My main concerns are if not spending time with my new spouse is going to drive the relationship down the drain?

How about kids? What if one of those things decides to bounce along? What kind of stress will that put on the relationship?

I know for a fact that it took me a long time (too long actually) to get where I am today, i.e., following my dream. I do want to pursue it with all the energy I have. I would not want to compromise on that facet of my life. If it means I don’t get married then I’ll bite the bullet and not get married! By trying to get married at the same time am I trying to have my cake and eat it too?

If we do end up getting married, I would move to CA and apply to med school in CA. Having done my prereqs at the University of Minnesota, would my chances at med school in CA be diminished in any way?

Also, I heard from some students that applying to med school in CA is particularly difficult - more so than the rest of the country. Is it really that cut throat down there?

Since I am moving there because I am getting married I would be considered in-state from the get go so I’m not worried about having to apply as an out of state resident.

Or am I just getting cold feet? I would really appreciate honest advice from you guys. Brutal, cold, honest advice! I’m old enough to be able to take it and also old enough to realize what the right thing to do is, and what is practical and what is not. Besides I’ve been there once so its not as if I’m hurting to get married again.

Its just that I’d rather have a family at 35 rather than 45.

Thanks for your patience if you managed to get so far without clicking the ‘Back’ button on your browser!

I read the other post - it wasn’t boring - and just wasn’t sure what to say. I suppose I feel somewhat uncomfortable giving you advice of such a personal nature. Do you want to hear that I did something similar (albeit a bit more slowly), and it turns out to not have been my wisest decision?

Ah… I’ll stick to the med school info .

As I understand, in-state competition in California is pretty fierce. I wouldn’t imagine that having out-of-state pre-reqs would put you at a huge disadvantage; it might just make you more of an unknown, thereby increasing the importance of your MCAT and any Cali coursework you do.

I imagine that maintaining a relationship and family throughout med school is pretty taxing. I know that it can be done - several members of this community have done it, or are doing it now. Can your relationship endure those trials? I don’t know. If you don’t either, perhaps it’s something for you to reflect on.

Let me just say that there are an awful lot of Californians in my private med school in Wisconsin, and all of them applied at home. The fact that you’ve been living apart also makes it hard because you’ll be trying to cement your bond, not knowing each other as well as you might, while in school and it’s going to be a challenge.

If you don’t get into school in CA, is she willing to move to MN? That’s just one of the questions you have to consider.

  • samenewme Said:

If you don't get into school in CA, is she willing to move to MN? That's just one of the questions you have to consider.

Oh absolutely - she is willing to move to wherever I get in, and I am certainly not limiting myself to MN, or CA for that matter.

Like Adam said, I just wasn’t sure exactly how to answer. You’ve titled this thread, “Do residents/med students have time for family?” and my answer to that is: it depends. Sometimes. Not as much as you’d like.

There are lots of potential stressors on a relationship. Certainly med school, kids, residency applications could all be considered stressors, and any of these could torpedo a relationship that isn’t on a solid foundation. But how do you know what a solid foundation is? There’s folks married for years and years whose relationship runs aground on something, and newlyweds who do great with incredible challenges. It’s a bit of a crap shoot, and requires a tremendous amount of commitment from each of you to the other and to the relationship.

Make sure you are each talking about the other’s goals. What are HER aspirations? What does SHE hope to do? Don’t let this conversation be only about what you hope will work out for you. (You don’t imply you’re doing that, I’m just saying.)

As you say, you’ve been down this path before so I won’t lecture you on my philosophy of marriage, but I have to say: just be sure you’re putting your marriage and your family first, and everything else will work out the way it’s supposed to.

All the best to you!


I would have to be honest and stay that getting married, starting a family, and starting medical school to ME does seem like a lot. Medical school is a HUGE transition and adding two other on top of that is recipe for disaster.

Remember, depending on where you end up at medical school you more than likely WILL BE WORKING up to 80hrs/week or “more” on some rotations, you will be also studying during this time, so you get the picture. Why are you trying to do ALL of this at once? focus on one thing and then move to the next.

Dr Renard,

Perfect answer, I like others had read it and decided, I am gonna let someone else take THIS one. However, you have inspired me!

  • Mary Renard Said:
There's folks married for years and years whose relationship runs aground on something, and newlyweds who do great with incredible challenges. It's a bit of a crap shoot, and requires a tremendous amount of commitment from each of you to the other and to the relationship.Mary

I may be the only person on the planet with my specific set of factors, much like everyone else is also unique for the same reason. Through some cosmic allignment of the stars back in 1984, I entered into a relationship that has held up. But much more for reasons magical and by mutual agreement (in advance) I was allowed to "promote" academic work to a top priority much of the week, in return "family" got nearly "iron cladding" on weekends, everything else was off the radar until a break in school, then "job could creep in as a second priority.

I give my rock solid wife the credit for THIS. I could not have asked for this sacrifice and committment, lucky me it was offered and humbly accepted... Thankfully my bond is stronger than ever.

I have seen an equal number of "older" and "younger" classmates marriages fail over the last several years, then there are those that press on. The odd thing is that NO two of them have the same reasons either for falling apart or flourishing. It is indeed a crap shoot.


Here’s my honest and short answer…Why do you need to get married? Why can’t you have a prolonged engagement; you can always get married later on.

Good luck,


I got two beautiful daughters that love me - found time in there somewhere & I did TWO very demanding & intense training programs…probably should not say that too loudly or someone will have me committed!

Holy thread resurrection!!!

Well as it turns out we had a long and hard discussion about my path and our futures, and we finally decided to call it quits. I had hoped we wouldn’t since she was a great gal, but hey, c’est la vie.

Onwards troops, we have no time to waste on triflings!!!

Never saw that coming (at least this fast)…wow! Congratulations or I am so sorry…not sure which.