Here I go...

looking for ways to make my wife be comfortable with me going after my dreams. I am new to this site and am glad to see there is a place to discuss ALL of the topics that go thru our heads, which I know is ALOT! Here is a quick background.
I went to the University of Colorado where I majored in Accounting . I also played football while I attended college. After college, I chased my dream to play professional football, getting picked up by the Bills (for one day before failing my physical with a deficient ACL ). After ACL recon. I made it in NFL Europe, and finally made it with the Saints for 1 year where I tore my pectoralis during a weightlifting session. This ended my career. Between this bouncing around, I decided I wanted nothing else but to become a Doctor. After the peck injury I went for it, taking Gen Chem I, Gen Bio I, and Gen Phy I. I loved it!!! But my wife just saw the road to becoming a doctor a long and cruel road for us and our soon to be children (still a year away). So I decided to see if there was something else I would have a passion for, so I got into Sales. Hated that! Now I am teaching math at a local highschool. This is my first year, and I really like it but I want to be a doctor! Telling my wife this again , she asked me “where does our family fit in, and where do we go from here.” I understand where she is coming from and respect her views, so I told her I would do some research on how we can make this work.
Here are her concerns:
Financially- We just bought a new house, and our life is just getting started. She is a teacher also, and she wants to know how we will make it over the next 10-11 years. (this is how long I figured till I would be done with residency)
Will we be able to keep our house and live an OK life, or are we going to end up in a dorm, living on her salary only, and eating roman noodles ?
Time spent with family- She is very concerned about the following issues.
What will we do, while I am in residency and medical school, with the children?
Will I be able to spend any time with them?
Am I going to be a big part of their lives?
I promised her I would research her concerns, and I figure since many of you are in the same boat, this would be the best place to ask. Thank you all very much for ALL of your input. I will let her know everything you all have experienced. Sorry for the long post, but this is very important for me, and more importantly for my wife. Thank you once again, Shane

Congratulations on finding the site and having the guts to post. A question for you is:
How long till you would start medical school?
While I’m not a physician…yet…I can offer a bit of advice that has been passed to me.
Things will be tight over the years you are in medical school. You receive a meager salary while in residency but at least money is coming in. The amount increases each residency year. Whether or not you keep the house has to do with a variety of factors:
-Where you get accepted to school.
-Are you willing to sell the house and move?
-If not, are you willing to rent it out becoming landlords?
I’m not sure what you mean about what you will do with the children during this time. My assumption is in general…if so then this is like anything else. While your time will be limited this does not mean you will not see your family. The advice by those who have gone before us is the best thing to do is keep a balance with family to keep yourself balanced and grounded. Too much medicine and not enough family makes an unhappy physician and family.
A friend who is in his last months of medical school had 2 kids while there. He is a huge part of their lives. Naturally his wife is to be commended but he also sacrificed some sleep in order to spend time with the kids and study.
Life will not be easy but it is definitely doable. It depends how much each of you is willing to sacrifice on the front end. The other thing to take into account is the area you specialize in. Some are more conducive to spouses who would like to see their mates on occasion.

SCook, welcome. You and your wife will find all sorts of perspectives on these questions as you browse the old threads here. Her worries, and yours, have been voiced by lots and lots of other people.
The bottom line is that there is no right answer that would fit everyone. I had many classmates in their late 20s, early 30s, who were starting their families and managing med school too. They took a variety of different approaches to this task. I had other classmates who started out with kids - again, their approaches varied. Some had family, or money, or both, to make things easier. Others had neither, but still figured out ways to make things work.
The med school schedule is demanding but not impossible. While I was busy, and obsessed with school at times, I did also see my family I will say that so far intern year is pretty demanding but even now there is time. Work days are long but you DO go home at the end of the day, and my experience has been that my day starts way earlier than most but ends early enough for me to have dinner with my husband most of the time. You WILL be around to read to kids after dinner, much of the time.
I was one of the fortunate folks who had a well-paid spouse backing me up, so I can’t speak to the money worries. Some of my classmates did military scholarships, but others did not - and they all seemed to manage somehow.
Hope that helps!

Thank you both very much. I sat down with my wife last night and we read both of your post together. The last hurdle (and most important) before entering this jouney was getting the full support of my wife. After reading your posts she told me, “I am behind you 100%” . She realizes it is going to be a challenging road, but before this site she thought it was impossible to have a family and persue medical school and beyond. This site and your responses made the difference. So, Mary, Croooz, and everyone who has contributed to this site, THANK YOU!

Go For it! I was there about a year ago, after being a RN and wanting to move onto something different and new I’m going to med school at 40! My wife is excited and can’t wait to go to England, I’m scared and excited! What no work for 5 years? Well not the kind of work I’ve done for around 20 years that earns a paycheck! Good luck, welcome and hang in there!

a few notes on how it has worked out for me:
I managed to do all the pre-requisits as evening classes while continueing to work, with the exception of Organic chem. On a teacher’s schedule that might be possible for you as well.
We decided that relocating was not a viable option, what with an established house, and kids in school etc, so I limited my applications to close-by programs. Even so, I did a lot of commuting during the first 3 years of med school, and was away from home most of the week for those 3 years. I have somewhat older kids that could operate a bit independently, which helped. Still, my wife had to do a lot of single parenting, which she managed with much patience and good humor.
Financially, I borrowed essentially all my tuition money plus some additional living expense money which compensated for the loss in salary with a little frugality. Still, I have essentially a second mortgage to repay. However, interest on those loans is really low currently, which helps. Based on our own financial situation, i expect to begin making some repayment during residency.
An unexpected benefit has been that, because of our low income status, my oldest daughter qualified for lots of financial aid when applying to college!
For residency I am also focusing on the family practice program at the local hospital. I think I have a decent shot, based on the contacts I have made.
Yes, I have limited choices based on having an established family and home, but so far it has worked out ok.
Sure, there have been compromises, but it has worked out ok.
Steve Y. 48 - MS 4 - UNECOM -

Thanks for the support! I am going to start back during the Summer of 2005. Congrats to you on following your dreams, and seeing it happen. I can not wait till I get accepted to a Med School, but I will enjoy the journey along the way.

Hi there,
There are a couple of things that might help you put a medical career in perspective: First, medical school is no more demanding than many jobs. Many children are growing up in households where both parents are working to make ends meet and therefore have less contact with parents than children growing up in households where one parent works. This is not necessarily a terrible thing as quantity of parental influence does not equal quality of parental influence. You can be a great parent and have a medical career. I was raised by my aunt and uncle who were both physicians. There were some sacrifices but I turned out not to be a “drugged out ax murderer” (though I am fond of knives ).
Medicine and family are not mutually exclusive. You can arrange your schedule so that you can spend some quality time with your family. I had plenty of classmates who successfully combined school and family without any untoward effects.
The days of hours away from home during residency are gone and most residencies have 80-hour per week maximums (surgery is exempt with 88-hour max). When we are not busy, we make every effort to get the junior residents out of the hospital and home. Most medical schools end classroom lectures at 1pm so you have plenty of time to study (and interact with family).
What you do have to take into consideration is that your income will be non-existant during medical school and in the high 30s to low 40s during residency. You also have to take into consideration that if you attend a very expensive private medical school, you are going to have to pay back substantial educational loans which may or may not be in addition to your undergraduate loans. This means that in addition to paying off your loans, medical malpractice and office overhead, you may not be taking loads of money home these days.

What Natalie said is true. I think that most of us do not enter medicine with expectations of becoming rich. We do it, because we have a passion for it, and perhaps a calling.
Never, never let yourselves become so absorbed in becoming a physician, that you forget who you are, your family, or your close friends. For in the end, that is what is truly important in life.

Hello and welcome to OPM!
I just met with a financial aid expert at school because I had similar concerns to you. My husband and I just purchased a townhouse (we live in Westchester County in NY which is VERY expensive) and we’re thinking of having one child before I start medical school. Currently I’m working as a Systems Analyst and am making nearly double what he makes, so me leaving my job for school will hit us hard financially. My main concern is keeping the house. My husband absolutely LOVES the new place and I couldn’t feel good about pursuing my dreams if it means him having to give it up. Since he doesn’t make enough to cover everything, I will be taking loans to cover the remainder of our expenses next year (I will finish my postbacc as a full-time student). I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to borrow enough to do this since our mortgage payment is high, but the guy at school says I can borrow up to $2000 a month without getting special approval and that will be enough. I am not paying tuition for my postbacc program because my husband works for Columbia. Things will be trickier once/if I go to med school, but we’ll cross that bridge once we get there. By the time I enter med school I’m hoping we will have refinanced our mortgage (and gotten rid of PMI) as well as gotten rid of all consumer debt (I will be doing two lag years and working during them).
Best wishes to you!

University of Colorado - Boulder? Sweet, that’s where I went to school. Hopefully your wife can see the long term advantages to a medical career. First of all med school is only 4 yrs, while you get paid as an intern and resident (probably more than you would make teaching). I would argue that going into medicine really will benefit your family in the long term, and your work hours can be contolled based on specialty after you finished residency.
I went back to med school at 31, and I realize how fortunate I am that my wife was supportive all the way. Now we live on her salary, with some loans thrown in to pay the tuition. I love it!
Good luck,
CU - Boulder
UW - Madison

Did anyone tell their spouse and not get a go ahead? Anyone have to really convince your spouse about doing this?
I’m in the consideration stages and not sure my wife is going to be as open to the idea of med school…