Family Planning Advice

Hello PreMeds!

I might be jumping the gun here, but I’m someone who likes to plan in advance.

I’m worried about starting a family whilst pursing a career in medicine, especially since I am a woman.

  1. What would be the best time to carry a child? Would bring pregnant hinder my ability to participate in hands-on activities in med school/residency?

  2. How can someone balance the demanding hours of residency while also raising a family?

  3. Is it possible to graduate medical school, and then get a healthcare-related job that does not involve a residency so one could be more involved at home? And then when children are older and in school, is it possible to THEN enter a residency? What non-residency jobs are available for someone with an MD?

THanks for every thing!

I know two female students at my school that have kids. One has children who are a little older (I want to say 5-10 y/o) and lives geographically separated from her husband. She has a live-in au pair and swears by it. The other had a newborn starting school then had her second kid between 1st and 2nd year. Her husband works a lot from home, but they also have a nanny. There are a lot of sacrifices you have to make to balance family and med school. You have to be okay striking that balance and be accepting of the fact that you can’t do it all. I have 2 kids, and there are some days that I literally don’t see them while they’re awake. Even when I’m home, I have to do a lot of studying, but I try to do it after the kids go to bed during the week.

There is no perfect time to have a kid. Life happens, pregnancies happen, you just have to make your situation work. Work-wise, you might try to time the due date during breaks between class year like above.

Assuming you don’t have a complicated pregnancy, you can be a fully functioning resident. I’ve seen 3rd trimester residents in everything ranging from emergency medicine to surgical specialties. The maternal leave policy and accommodations will be dependent on whatever institution you train at. The residents I know with kids put their kids in day care, and they get breaks to pump.

To practice medicine, you have to complete an internship (1 year) and pass all of the board exams (you’ll take the last one during the intern year generally). There are jobs out there for MDs who don’t want to practice, such as research and “consulting” (whatever that means), but I can’t say I’ve seen anyone from my school that did not at least complete an intern year after graduation. My friend’s wife started a residency program but quit a few months in, she is now having difficulty matching into a new specialty because she is trying to limit her options for family reasons. My guess would be that the longer you’re out of medicine, be it school or practicing, the harder it would be to get matched into a residency program, especially if it’s competitive.

You could probably find an urgent care job with flexible hours after completing your intern year. Medicine doesn’t have to be a day job, and there are a lot of different positions that could offer flexibility depending on your contract. I’ve seen physicians that work for physician groups as fill-ins. Others I’ve seen work maybe 2-3 half days per week. There’s a lot of options out there depending on what you want to do.

Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to write out this incredibly comprehensive and detailed answer! I certainly have a lot to think about after reading it. It’s very helpful!