How my journey will end...important decisions...

I thought I’d share some of my story and thoughts with some of you–since the topic of “is it worth it?”…“what will the hours be like?”…“will I ever see my family”…seems to be looming lately.
I was halfway through my masters in psychology–when I became confident enough in my abilities to pursue medicine, which is what I originally wanted to do but didn’t. Everyone thought I was crazy…and I was told over and over I’d never get in. I applied to a post bac program, and got in ONLY because the chair of the committee believed in me–only to be forced to leave it after 2 classes because I got married and my husband couldn’t find a job in the area. Setback #1. Took classes on my own, a few at a time since I had to go back to work full time and lived in a rural area with one college that didn’t have evenng classes. Setback #2. On top of that, I got a D in Organic Chem first time around–which pushed back the MCAT for another year–setback #3. I started to wonder if GOD was trying to tell me something. All the while, working as an addiction counselor, making good money, flexible hours, and having an excellent resume…woorking with some of the best in the field.
Well, I moved back to where I started and began my quest to retake Organic, the only 2 classes between me and medical school. So the story goes.
I’ve spent 2 years shadowing a DO (FM)in West Virginia. She’s a rural doctor in the middle of nowhere–who can barely afford her malpractice insurance…and is desperately trying to keep her practice afloat. I marched with her on the state capitol for White Coat day—with all the other West Virginian doctors pleading their cases to state legislators and hoping for a desperately needed change. She makes very little money, but is committed. A real inspiration to us all.
While I never wanted to be a doctor because I thought I’d be making a ton of money, I did expect there to be some financial payoff to being in school that long, working long hours, and helping people in a way that only a select few can. I think about malpractice, the long hours, residency, not seeing my husband, not making “the big bucks,” and most of all the financial debt I’ll incur ALL THE TIME.
I ask my self, “Why am I doing this?” I have to admit, at this point, I too am second guessing this decision. I can go to law school for free, since my husband is law faculty at a Univ. law school ranked high—thinking about health policy, or maybe even defending all those doctors in frivilous lawsuits. I think about dentistry as well…fascinated by it, still extremely demanding but let’s face it, the work hours aren’t as bad as most physicians. I read all the information out there and see these posts and hear others fears about entering medical school and what the life is like of modern day doctors. It’s absolutely frightening to me the more I know. It’s been three years now since I’ve begun pre-reqs for medical school–had a lot of time to think. I wish I could wake up one morning and just have more clarity on what to do. All I can say is: everyone’s situation is different…and people handle things in different ways. I’m just doing my best at this point to weigh the pros and cons…
thanks for listening (well, reading I guess).
In any case, I’ve read all of your posts–and for those of you who are doubting your choice to pursue this, I understand and am conflicted myself. I applaud all of you like Natalie, Dave, Mary and the rest of you who have shown such dedication, committment, and BALANCE.

This is a tough one because I’m caught in the same situation. Difference being is I’m dead set on entering the military so this allows me some flexibility. Why I say flexibility is the fact I will be able to follow the specialty I would like, not worry too much about malpractise and have a decent income. The downside, as it were, the specialties I want are undermanned in the military which means many 6-9 month deployments in so-so locations or downright awful. The skills I acquire in residency MAY not be equivalent to my civilian counterparts and because of caseload might decline.
If I had to do this on the outside…civilian…I’m not so sure. On the one hand I don’t see the cost-benefit being worth the sacrifice. This isn’t for those who are already there but for those of us who will start med school this year and on. Things are no doubt looking ugly but then what’s looking good? If I absolutely have to become a civilian physician I would still opt for the Public Health service. This path would have me go the way of IM/EM residency. I guess in the end it’s still “service” so not truly an independent civilian.
AnnaB…perhaps physician’s assistant? You get to practise as much medicine as you’d like and go into other fields as you feel the need. It isn’t peaches & cream but it’s still a choice. Maybe a law degree after PA school? This way you have some medical background to fight the good fight. I would say nurse practitioner but that would be a longer path. For PA school you would be missing Micro, A&P1 & 2 and maybe stats. If you don’t have these then that would be all that’s missing. This is of course dependent on the school.
I was originally on the path to be a PA then I decided the other way. There isn’t the military option for me if I became a PA so I weighed my options and decided to go with what I always wanted…MD/DO.
Make the choice which is best for you. PA is not a bad way to go. They spend more time with patients and are a valued part of the medical team. As physician extenders they allow the doctor to run the business of the practise while the PA’s see the patients. You will not be the doctor but there are areas which can not afford a physician and are attracting PA’s. Just a thought.

As I mentioned in another long post, not a day goes by that I don’t think about this. I have to recommit to this path every single day, because every day there are other things competing for my attention. Things that I truly cherish and I would never want to give up. So I find myself often wondering whether I can do medicine since for the most part it seems all-encompassing. As you said though many people here have managed to do it with some semblance of balance so that gives me hope that I will be able to find my niche in medicine.
Right now the specialties I’m attracted to (anaesthesiology, radiology, and pathology) aren’t heavy on patient contact, so I am doubtful that PA or even dentistry will be good alternatives for me, but I am keeping all options open. More than one person has told me that I should look into research and I hope to do that during my full-time school year next year. I’m also going to look into Physical Therapy and Public Health as plans C.
For now I will keep plugging at this postbacc program with the eventual goal of becoming a medical doctor. But along the way I will have many difficult decisions to make. I wish you all the best in your journey.
PM me any time if you want to chat.