Family Question

Hi All,

I have a family question. I am 33 now, spent 10 years in the military as a pilot, and got my MBA last year. I would be 37 when I started med school and will have 2 kids and an amazingly supportive wife. I thought some of you may have some interesting view points. Assuming one gets into to medical and does 4 years plus min of 3 for residency…I have a couple of questions regarding the level of sacrifice on the family?

  1. How severe is the sacrifice, not on me, but on the spouse and children? (time away from Dad, finances, etc…)

  2. For those of you who have done this with a family…did you ever wrestle with guilt? I believe I can make whatever sacrifices necessary but I fear my endeavor could be asking too much sacrifice out of children. Of course, I don’t know, which is why I’m asking…someone once told me, “once you have kids, it’s all about them not you”…ironically, I desire medicine to contribute to society yet my fear is that is could hurt my own family.

    Thanks for your honest inputs…I’m looking for the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This question has been asked here many times. If you browse, you’ll probably find a lot on this subject.

I don’t have children yet, but defintelly planning… rather sooner than later, b/c the clock is ticking… but I guess I’ll cross this bridge when I get there.

There is a good number of students in my class who have families w/ children and they are doing just fine. It’s going to be easier for you as a father, that it would be for a women. You’re wife is supportive, so I guess you couldn’t dream about a better set-up.

Everything will depend on you and your organizational skills. Many people in my class just treat the school as their job - sit in the lectures in the morning, study in the afternoon, and come back home in the evening to enjoy time with their family. It’s defintelly easier during the 1st and 2nd years; will be harder to balance during the 3rd year. But again - didn’t you have to spend time away from your family when working as a military pilot?!

The only thing to figure out is - finances! But there a student loans, and you probably can cosider military scholarships…

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are lots of options, and it’s doable.

Good luck,


I just met a 1st year woman over the weekend who had 4 kids. She was 35 and also has a very supportive husband. To second Kasia, she said she treats it like a job, although she prefers to stop studying ~ 3:00 to pick up kids, etc. and studies more again at night. She did say you probably won’t be top of the class doing this, so you might expect to put in more time if you’re gunning for a neurosurgery residency or something.

FWIW, I see the med school/residency thing as a normal stage of life. All careers go thru demanding stages. I work with people who travel all week 3 weeks/mo, and people who relocate away from their families for a year. Or people who drag their families to new locations every year. Dedicating extra time to work (or med school) is something that all people have to decide to do to get ahead, no matter what their career path. There is always a more painless option, but it usually doesn’t have as great of rewards!

Also - re: finances - you’ve got four years. That’s plenty of time to pay debts and save cash. . .see daveramsey dot com for tips on living cheaply. I figure a good plan is to whittle the debt/cut extras down to live off the working spouse’s income as much as possible. I’m struggling with the idea of not taking vacations while my kids are young, but I also remember from childhood that one trip/lifetime with great experiences meant more than a mediocre trip every year.

I believe that anything is possible. Why not make it work.

DLC, I imagine your family’s sacrifice will be more than what was required while you were on active duty. The plus side no deployments, no missed birthdays, or anniversaries. The down side long hours.

Financially the new GI Bill should cover most school expenses, and provide a modest living allowance.

Thanks for the inputs everyone…much appreciated.

JBow…I’m a sailor too and yes, Navy life was a sacrifice…yet I was in my 20’s and no one was depending on me at home…when I had a family is when I decided to leave the military since 8 month at sea can be tough. So the game has changed!

Thanks again and look forward to anyone else who has advice on: How can I reach my goal and still be a good husband and father???

Priorities…Family, School, Work in that order.

I’m carrying a full course load with a 4.0 GPA, I work, I spend one week a month doing the reserve thing, I do volunteer work, I’m also home at 3:30 to help my kids with their homework and run them to practices and activities.

How do I do it, I have a strict schedule.

I wake up everyday at 5:30 to run and prepare myself for the day, I also listen to my instructors last lecture or an audio book related to a class I’m taking, not exactly inspiring or motivating music but it allows me to get some study time in.

My wife bought me an I-Phone that I use during my hour long ferry ride to class, and during my idle time. Website: flashcardexchange dot com

I also use my ferry and bus ride to review notes and organize my thoughts.

Class usually from 9-12 M/W, 15 mins for lunch and off to lab. I only take science and math classes on campus; the rest on-line. I’m also an Anthro major which gives me loads of extra study time.

The commute home allows me to study and review my notes.

From 3-ish to 9 I watch the kids, help with homework, and cook dinner; since my wife also goes to school full time also (RN-BSN).

After 9 I hit the books for an hour or 2 and log-in to my online classes or study with my wife.

Weekends I give the books a rest, do a 4 hour shift at the local hospital on Saturday from 6-10 am and focus on my family, unless I have a mid-term or quiz the following Monday, then I spend 3-4 hours studying on Sunday after dinner.

Days I don’t have to be on campus, I work.

All this is possible because my wife and kids understand what’s at stake and my trusty I-Phone.

On a side note:

Nobody can tell you how to be a better husband or father, thats all you…

All you can ask for is support from your family … Refer to Richard Rules for NON-TRAD success.

Thanks JBow…I found it very helpful to actually hear a schedule…nice job. Who knew you submariner’s were so disciplined??

Best of luck to you…keep in touch.

I spent 6 of 7 med school and residency years largely away from home. I think I was able to make it to most of the really big stuff, but did miss a lot as well. Initially it was almost a bit of a joke:

“How can you stand to be away from your wife and kids so much?”

“I have 3 TEENAGE daughters…”

“How can you stand to go home…”

but yes - there was some guilt. But with a very supportive and employed wife we got though ok.

between her salary and debt acquisition we got by ok. And the kids so far have done well. They certainly have all grown to value learning, and are perhaps more independent then they might have been otherwise.

If I had anything to do with it at all then the role model of dad striving for a greater goal seems to have won over the role model of dad leaving to pursue crazy dreams.

Every one of us is different and my path may not work for you, but it did work out for me in similar circumstances.

One word of advice: If you do go ahead with this, when you are home, try not to bring any more school with you than absolutely necessary… and be VERY VERY nice to your wife. She deserves it.

I was visiting a couple of years ago with a friend while he was chief surgical resident. He captured my attention when he said, “I’m doing this with the hope that the time I sacrifice right now will make an impression and create opportunities for my boys in the future.”

Well, it is not easy. My son has been sick for 2 weeks. My grades have dropped drastically, however, my kids are my priority and will always be. The biggest problem in my opinion is to keep the GPA up. It’s a lot of pressure although doable. Good luck!

I am in medical school with 3 young daughters (8, 5, 2) and while it is hard, you have to have a schedule and even set up a large calendar as your “family control center”.

I write down exams and any study sessions that I have. I then check for activities that I will be able to do with my girls. It just comes down to schedule, schedule, schedule.

Remember, you cannot study all of the time or else you will burn out.