is this so hard for anybody else?

Hi eyerybody. I just joined this site, and I’d like introduce myself. I am 28, happily married for 5 years, and mother to a very active 2 year-old. I’ve always enjoyed and excelled in school (well, since college anyway), and I definitely want to do more. I majored in psychology as an undergrad, and got a masters in counseling and a Ph.D. in developmental psych in the following four years. Then I had a baby who had some health problems (mostly resolved now), moved cross country, opted out of the hunt for a tenure-track position (want to work clinically and grant writing = yuck), and have done some teaching and work for the state government (it’s even worse than people say). I left my job at the end of the summer and started a post-bac program. It’s going well, but I can’t decide what I should do.

I know that I would be most fulfilled as an MD/DO, I’m fairly confident that I could get in, my husband is encouraging me, and I would not even have to take out large loans. I’m just so nervous that my being so busy will be detrimental for my child and my marriage.

People I know who are somewhere in the MD training process generally say it isn’t worth it, but doctors who have been practicing for a while all say go for it. I’ve read posts on other sites saying both “go in with your eyes open” and “if you have any doubts that this is what you should do, you shouldn’t do it.” Can both things be true? When I focus on the real sacrifices involved, I feel lots of doubt and guilt, but I just can’t get myself to be consistently enthusiastic about taking a different path. Have any of you had similar feelings, and what finally gave you the courage to go for it or the willingness to let it go?

I know my questions are vague, but I appreciate any comments you have. I will hear in a couple weeks whether I’ve been accepted to the masters entry nursing program at the university where I’m doing my post-bac. I am worried that if I have an acceptance in hand, I’m going to talk myself into doing it even though I really don’t want to. Maybe I’m just trying to rush the process of committing to medical school so I don’t end up in a situation that I don’t want to be in.

Yes, it was hard for me, too. The first speaker we had at the first OPM conference I attended said, “If you can be happy doing anything else, do it.” But finally I decided I had given “anything else” a fair try and it was time for me to try this.

I think if you work closely with your husband and kids and find ways to spend as much time with them AS YOU CAN, you can do all of this. You might regret it, but you might not. You might be very glad. I don’t have answers for you, really, but I do know where you’re coming from.

Well as a premed that fluctuated for years on whether to take the PA or MD/DO route I can say you just make a choice and don’t look back. Sure you make the best choice you can but the key is not to look over our shoulder.

I went thru asking this person, that person and it was so varied that it was pointless. The residents hated life and medicine was the biggest mistake of their life…unless I spoke to one who just did something incredible. The doctors hated what medicine had become and the high cost of this that and the other thing…unless I spoke to a few who had received some sort of recognition or some administrative issue had been corrected or the family of the patient that died dropped the lawsuit…

Then there are the med students who hate life and medicine was the biggest mistake of their life…but after the pass the current cycle of tests their on or pass the Step exam or the shelf exam or get a LOR from a current attending then medicine is the best decision.

So it all depends on who you talk to and when, which doesn’t help at all. Ultimately I looked way out there 40 years from now and imagined if I had how I would look back and imagined if I stayed in my current profession (health care administrator) how things would be.

There are going to be some sacrifices I envision making. As it stands I enjoy surgery but not the lifestyle because of the family. So I’m looking for something that I will enjoy but also give me somewhat of a lifestyle. EM, while not quite a true lifestyle specialty, (unless you think that working nights, holidays, and weekends is a lifestyle) is what I’m leaning toward. It’s a field I enjoy, has somewhat of lifestyle, and compensation seems worth it.

Understand that while I agree that no one can be 100% what they want to do in medicine before going to medical school, I don’t think that applies to someone who has been in and around medicine for 17 years.

So my advice??? Go with your gut. Deep down inside I think you know but keep getting mixed information from supposed subject matter experts. Ignore these “experts” and go into it because you want to with the understanding you might sacrifice specialty for family.

Hi KT,

Ditto the others, and welcome to oldpremeds!

It’s normal to be wracked with doubt because this is such a huge commitment and undertaking. I’ve been wracked with doubt the whole way along, and now that I stand ready to attend medical school I’m frankly terrified. But like me, you should ask yourself–10 years from now you can be a physician, or not–but you’ll still be 10 years older. Which would you prefer?

I would say that if your heart tells you this is what you want to do, you should absolutely follow your heart. There are plenty of pitfalls in medicine, but it’s such a diverse and growing field that you can definitely find a niche for yourself in the ecosystem. Spend some time around a few physicians, go volunteer in a hospital, and get a feeling for the profession.

With your previous training and your desire to do clinical work, plus your experience as a mother, you will undoubtedly make an excellent physician. Good luck!

Thanks for the replies. It’s true, I do know what I want. I just don’t know if I can hang onto enough of what is already great about my life (lots of time with family) and do what will fulfill me. I do think I’d make a good physician, and my gut feeling is that it would be the right outcome for me. When I take the long view, like some of you are describing, going to medical school seems like a great choice. When I focus on the challenges of next year, MS3, residency, or whatever I think I should run in the other direction though.

Sometimes it helps to remind myself of a few things 1) I’ve done some difficult things already and am no worse off for it, 2) my son won’t always be so young or need me with quite the same intensity, and 3) life does go on in medical school - my sister is in her third year and, from my perspective, she doesn’t have it too bad; she’s off on a ski vacation after a couple months on rotation in a warm and sunny place.

I remember that when I decided to apply to the post-bac program last spring, I said to my husband that I knew I would probably talk myself out of going to medical school again (I considered switching to premed a couple times in college) but that I really hoped I wouldn’t. I guess hanging in limbo is better than having talked myself out of it entirely, but I wish I could just inject myself with some fortitude and commit already.

Hi KT,

I often say that I did this because I was tired of being bored at work. And I have been miserable, overwhelmed, humiliated, humbled, and also excited, elated, moved, fascinated, inspired; I have almost never been bored. But I’ve given up a lot in exchange and in general I agree with the often-stated advice that if you can think of something you’d rather do, you should do it.

Some scattered advice:

  1. You have a sister in med school, and if this has come up this much for you (since college, etc), I’m betting you have some other docs in the family? Whether it’s just your sister, or more family members, part of your path is going to be about figuring out some things about your relationship to the doctors and future doctors in your family and in your world, and how that might have affected your own ideas about this path.

  2. Sounds like you’re thinking about an accelerated path to being a nurse practitioner? A valid choice, but it’s not like it’s so easy, either. Think carefully about what you really want here; it doesn’t sound from what you’re writing that being an NP is going to quite do it for you. And it’s not like there’s no family sacrifice involved in that path–especially in a 3-year NP program, if that’s what you’re contemplating. Getting an RN in one year, as you do in most of those programs, is tough; and trying to go out in the world and be an NP without a residency, and without much clinical nursing experience, is really hard. Too scary for me, actually–I find the much more stepwise and gradual and constantly-supported process of medical training to be much more reassuring. Go to an NP program if you want to be an NP (or an RN program if you want to be an RN), but do it as whole-heartedly as you would if you wanted to be an MD and went to medical school.

    Good luck.


Joe, thanks for your comments. Your advice to go into nursing as whole-heartedly as I would medicine struck a chord with me. I have been spending lots of time in the past six months trying to embrace nursing, and it just isn’t happening. There are a number of reasons why becoming an NP would probably be more practical, but I just don’t feel very excited about it. I suppose that could still change though.

There are no doctors/future doctors in my family other than my sister. We did grow up with a mother who had wanted to be a doctor but let that dream fall by the wayside. Perhaps I misattribute the ways in which she was dissatisfied to giving up on going into medicine, but I think I worry about feeling like I settled too much and regretting it.

Anyway, thanks to all for humoring me and my existential crisis. I’m enjoying reading this site. It seems people here are fairly content with their challenging lives; I like that.


  • kt Said:
Your advice to go into nursing as whole-heartedly as I would medicine struck a chord with me. I have been spending lots of time in the past six months trying to embrace nursing, and it just isn't happening. There are a number of reasons why becoming an NP would probably be more practical, but I just don't feel very excited about it. I suppose that could still change though.

kt, I can so empathize with you on this one. I've even been accepted to nursing school a number of times, but (and I have total respect for nurses and what they do) nursing and medicine have two different models. The nursing model is based on patient responses to the treatment they are receiving and the illnesses that they may have, but the medical model is based on diagnosis and getting hopefully to the root of the problem and getting patients back on their feet in a healthful state (if possible).

If medicine is what you want to do...go for it, and if the timing isn't right for you now, don't rush it. You are 28, I believe, right? Well, I'm 42 and the way things look I probably won't reach my goal until I'm close to 50...but that's okay...I say to you, enjoy your family, especially your little one...medicine isn't going away. I think I'll actually be a better doctor becoming one at a later stage in my life than if I did the traditional route.