dumb questions...

Hey guys-

This is my 1st post, and I need some feedback on how life is during med school and residency? Is this absolute living hell? I have a family and 2 little ones, and are the rumors true? That I will miss out on life? And what about school loans? We have a mortgage, bills, etc…like everyone else. Do you get accepted to med school, then quit job, then apply for loans? It seems very scary. This is all so overwhelming, now I am just rambling… Any feedback or link guidance will be quite helpful!


  • RDHmom Said:
...how life is during med school and residency? Is this absolute living hell? ...

I'm not in med school yet but from past experience I can say that if you are really passionate about what you are doing then you perceive the hell as simply another obstacle to what you want to achieve.

I for one am really looking forward to the 'hell' and perhaps these will be my famous last words!

I need a run down of what “hell” is…


It isn’t always fun, but it’s not always “hell” either.

To start with, very few people work during medical school. There are a few people that hold down part-time jobs during the first two years, but it’s virtually impossible during 3rd year and parts of 4th. I worked a few hours a week manning the desk of the library for students in the independent study pathway during my second year. It was pretty quiet and allowed you to get quite a bit of study time in while getting paid, if you were disciplined.

Financing - nearly everybody borrows money (a lot of money) to pay for medical school. Every medical school makes up a budget for their students for each year of medical school. The budget includes tuition, books, and what the school deems as reasonable living expenses. You can view Ohio State’s budget here. The federal government allows you to borrow x amount per year up to whatever the cost of attendance is at your school. This year, that amount was $48,500 at OSU (I think they allow higher amounts at some schools in higher cost areas). In general, the cost of attendance is higher than the amount you are allowed to borrow from the government. Your options to make up the shortfall (if you don’t have scholarships that make up the difference) usually come down to private loans (which require good credit) or spending less than they budget for living expenses. I know several married students who’s spouse work full time that only borrow for tuition and books or just borrow a little bit for living expenses. I also know many single students who just borrow the federal amount and cut their living expenses to stay below the federal amount.

First and second year of medical schools are largely lecture and discussion based outside of anatomy. The amount of time spent in lecture/discussion varies from school to school from 20ish to 40 hours a week. You should count on treating the first two years as a full-time job + some, depending on how much you need to study. Some people find lectures to not be helpful to their learning (or their school offers video or audio recordings of them) and spend lecture time studying on their own instead. People generally spend a lot more time studying during exam weeks. I feel that students at my school, for the most part, still have time to have at least some life. Some people decide that a certain amount of family time is more important to them than honoring a course and choose to study less.

Third year is probably the closest to “hell” that you get. In third year, you start your clinical rotations. Hours can vary widely depending on the rotation, but an in-patient rotation will typically be 50-60 hours a week or more. Surgery, OB/gyn, and internal medicine typically have the longest hours. For me, surgery was usually 80 hours a week (sometimes more), ob was 70ish, and IM was 60ish. In addition to your clinical duties, you will need to study to prepare for the end of rotation exam. You just have to take it a day at a time. For me, surgery was the absolute worst. The first week, I went 3 days without seeing my daughter (I was out of the house by 3:30 am and wasn’t getting home until after 8), which was the longest I had ever gone without seeing her. If you have children, a supportive spouse/family is an absolute must. Again, each person has to decide how much they will sacrifice in terms of grades (study time) in order to spend time with their family.

Fourth year is much better than third year for the most part. You may have a couple of demanding rotations, depending on what you are choosing to specialize in, but you have a lot more vacation time, will be applying for residency and then going on residency interviews.

So - that’s medical school. It’s tough, but doable, even with children. You have to be disciplined and set your priorities. Residency is another 3+ years, depending on the specialty. I’ll let someone else give their perspective on residency, since I’m not there yet.

So Emergency, what you are saying in regards to Financial Aid is I should be able to get government loans w/o the credit check for my tuition? I have been worrying about that. We are 1 of the millions of Americans that have found ourselves in an extremely lower financial situation than we use to be. Thanks.

Correct, there is (currently) no credit check for federal loans. The real dilemma for many people, though, is that it can be very difficult to finance your education with federal loans alone (because of the yearly limit). The tuition alone is more than the amount you are allowed to borrow per year at many private schools and even some state schools. So, if your expenses (tuition and living expenses) exceed whatever the current federal yearly cap is, you either need to come up with the difference or borrow from private lenders. Even the GradPLUS loans, which are government, require a credit check.

I would strongly encourage everyone to get their credit in as good of order as possible. Also - pay off as much debt as possible. You will be glad not to have those extra payments hanging over your head during med school.