Intro and seeking advice

Hi all! I recently discovered this forum while searching for advice on how to approach a spouse, or in my case fiance, about making the decision to pursue a career in medicine. Anyways, allow me to give you all some background information about myself. I am a 26 year old second semester PhD student in Sociology, and I recently completed my M.A. in sociology this past August. I originally graduated with my B.S. in Sociology, however I always had a teeming interest in having a career in medicine. I guess you could say that my dream of pursuing a career in medicine was deferred by a lack of self application in some of the pre-med requirements (e.g., Physics: did not attend lectures and on showed up on to lab and test days, which I now know is stupid but at 19 I didn’t care; and Trigonometry: I did not attend this class either, and like Physics, I only attended on the test days). That said, I finished my undergrad with a 2.71 overall undergraduate GPA and an even lower science GPA. Thankfully for me I never received an F in an undergraduate course, and I also do not have very many of the prerequisites which will allow me to improve my science GPA to a 3.02 and my cumulative GPA to 3.1 after completing the pre-med coursework.

Statistics aside, I was able to gain admission into a graduate program in Sociology on a probationary status, until I could prove that I was capable of doing graduate level work. Suffice it to say, I now have a 3.45 in the discipline and now am wanting to make the transition towards a career as a physician. While I have met with several non-traditional medical students about this decision, which has been met with great support, I have had some doubt raised by my fiance. Her main concern is, she wants to start a family and what I guess you would describe as life after school The way it works out now my career options are in academia, which is okay but I do not feel it would ever lead to a career of personal satisfaction. While I love teaching, I do not love the politics of academia.

So, I welcome any feedback as to how to approach this subject with her. I understand that the discussion to pursue a career in medicine is a somewhat selfish decision, however, I am doing this for our long term satisfaction and happiness as a couple. She wants to be a stay-at-home mom, and as of right now she is an elementary school teacher (not great pay) which has become a very stressful career due to the ever increasing amount of state and federal testing, which often on looks at the teacher and students’ performance on the tests and does not assess the reasons that kids may be struggling on the tests. If I was able to become a physician she wouldn’t have to worry about these politics, as like me she enjoys helping others. So how should I proceed with regard to my fiance?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

First off, welcome! There are quite a few married folks in this community in various stages of the process who may be able to better speak to what you can expect in the longer-term (like having young children during residency).

A few others with experience in the MD/DO admission process may speak up with a few other challenges you may face (such as answering questions about why you are going directly from a graduate program to more schooling, if that’s the case).

I am just on the other side of the giant leap you are about to take-I finished my post-bacc classes in December and am now prepping for the MCAT. I also had a lower undergrad GPA, which essentially means you have to do very well in your post-bacc classes which means not only getting good grades (not nec. 100% A’s, but as close as possible), but becoming immersed in the material such that you know it cold moving forward.

I’ve been lucky enough that my fiance has taken the brunt of the financial burden, while I’ve racked up loans and scrapped together PT jobs during this process. He has also been supportive in every other way possible, from quizzing me on my flashcards to playing PS3 on mute (the horror!) in our tiny apt. while I study. He was never able to go to college, and has put his dream to get a bachelors on hold until I finish med school, or possibly residency.

With that said, we’re always looking to compromise. I’m planning on working FT during my gap year of applications while he goes to school and gets at least his associates.

Maybe others with families and those familiar with financial options can chime in, but if you feel it’s going to be a major point of contention in delaying having kids, you should definitely look into all your options together.

My one definitive piece of advice would be to be careful about how you word “however, I am doing this for our long term satisfaction and happiness as a couple.” I would be wary of telling your fiance that you’re majorly changing the plans you had previously discussed (I assume) for her happiness too. Perhaps instead you might explain why med school is important to you. Be fair about recognizing the sacrifices you both may have to make. Include her on the decision making process (where to take classes, over what length of time, how much debt to take on, etc).

The most important thing is communication. Include her in your decision making, and I am certain your relationship will remain strong and healthy. WHile it may at first appear a somewhat selfish decision to study medicine, it becomes a very selfless act when applied properly. So selfless, in fact, that it is imperative that your spouse or significant other can become supportive and independant as you both grow into this role. You will be gone, alot. Be honest, and it will all work out. Good luck!


Welcome!! I too am married, 26, and approaching a career in medicine. Although I have not already been through academia to the degree that you have, I think I share common grounds with you in that, when I married my wife I was with a branch Naval clinic on a Marine Corps base, which is a line of work that tends to pressure spouses in some of the same ways that moving through the academic world does (time constraints, giving work a high priority, stress from the processes, etc).

My strategy was to tell my wife from the get-go that I intended on attending medical school, and this has helped incredibly because, as she tells me, she knows what to prepare for in terms of her expectations of me as a husband and of her own career and academic pursuits. In this regard, I suggest the best way to approach the situation is as quickly as possible for her sake. I do not know your wife’s personality (nor yours!) but, more completely, I would suggest that you judge how blunt the approach should be so as to minimize any potential hard feelings (i.e., you may need to butter her up to the idea of med school after all you have already been through) but do so in such a way that she will have the most time as possible to process through what that decision will mean to you as a couple, your aspirations together and hers personally, etc.

Best of luck to you!! May I also suggest that you follow up with the results, documentary-narrative style, so that future persons may benefit from your experience!



Edit: I second the suggestion for communication. As you may already very well know, absolutely crystal clear communication is needed so your wife will understand all aspects of why you want to make this journey happen and what your intended goals are for the two of you. It is very important that she be able to very accurately articulate what you have in your mind about it when you contemplate on the idea so she can make an informed decision to back you up, bolster herself for the ride, and begin the necessary adjustments that are required by taking on such a monumental task.


I just wanted to chime back in and let you guys know how things went with my fiance. First, let me take a moment to thank everyone for their input…it was very helpful. Now to let you all in on how my fiance took the news of my desire to pursue a career in medicine.

I told her shortly after my posting, and needless to say she was not jumping up and down with excitement (mostly due to the time commitment and her readiness to start a family). However, one of our mutual friends, who is now just finishing his fourth year of medical school and also did not decide to pursue a career in medicine until his late 20s, has since talked to both of us about this decision…to the point that we have a common understanding that this process is a marathon that has to be taken on a day by day basis. So for now we are just rolling steadily along while I take the prerequisite courses in preparation for the MCAT. This is all that I could really ask for, and now it has been a little over a week since I first broke the news, and while the first 48-96 hours was met with a lot of crying and uncertainty on her part I was able to assure her that this is my true desire and that this is something that we will do together…and she has since gotten on board with my decision.

Again, thanks for the advice [board]. I will have to keep you all posted on my progress, but for now I will concentrate on getting ready to perform well in my prerequisite coursework to illustrate my personal and academic growth that has prepared me to take this path.