Mayo or Vanderbilt need input, ideas, thoughts

Okay, I am in a great position that both schools have offered me great scholarship packages. Both schools are great and either would provide me with a great education. My family lives approximately 45 minutes from Vanderbilt so I would have to commute every day and do not know how this would play out during years 3 and 4. My family is pretty much open to moving since we are military and used to it. Hubby can get a position in MN within the military, kids are willing to move except maybe my son kind of so so. I do not have family at either place and have friends and good support network at both locations. Any input? would love to hear from med students there any pros and cons. Thanks.

Theresa my dream school of course is Mayo hands down although Vandy is also a top choice. You are totally right about the commute it will take time away from family and studying and years 3 and 4 I will be tired and then drive? thanks for the input.

Congratulations on the acceptances to two outstanding schools! I would think about Theresa’s question if one school is a dream school. A long commute no doubt sucks. I am assuming you are coming from north of Nashville if your husband is military. With traffic it could be much longer. What are the chances of getting a new place in or at least closer to Nashville in order to shorten your commute? Maybe a place half way between? It’s a hard choice. My wife and I live just a couple miles from Vandy so if you do come here but keep your current residence, you can always crash in our spare bedroom/study on those times you are just too tired to make it home.

Thanks but relocating closer would defeat the purpose of considering Vanderbilt. I am trying to avoid the move, and we live in Clarksville so the drive will be at least 45 minutes…thanks for the offer to crash on your couch though he he.

Efex, nice going on the scholies. I got offered a PhD position at Vandy and really liked it there. The area is ok for me, but I gotta tell ya…if you got Mayo…you got a whopper of a deal. even full out I would snag that in a heartbeat. Unless you are looking at research as well, Mayo has so many clinical opportunites and their curriculum is unbelieveable. From my perspective…Mayo

I can give the perspective of one who has faced a long commute and has lived to tell about it… and has had to take into consideration school-age kids. Caveat: I live in an area that is always kinda disappointed to come in second or third worst traffic in the US (damn those LA folks for being #1!) so I am used to driving and just accept it as part of the cost of doing business - so if a one-hour drive to work sounds totally foreign to you, then my comments may not be so helpful. But here is a year-by-year accounting of my commuting experiences during med school.

YEARS 1-2: At rush hour, it is a minimum one hour from my door to the front door of GW, whether I drive or take Metrorail. Classes during years 1 and 2 were from 8 or 9 am til mid-afternoon on MWF; Tues-Thurs classes were more variable. I was almost ALWAYS home for dinner (but never cook it; I’ve never been the cook in my family) and USUALLY home for after-school stuff if I needed to be.

YEAR 3. GW does clinical placements for rotations in hospitals all over the DC Metro area. I was able to choose some placements much closer to my house than GW (e.g. Inova Fairfax, 20 minutes away) but also had assignments that were further away. Fortunately, things tended to even out - the worst commute had hours that started early enough that I was driving before rush hour got really bad, and getting out ahead of the worst rush, too. My earliest alarm-settings were actually for the nearest site because rounds were so damn early (alarm set at 3:50am to leave house by 4:30 to see patients starting at 5am). Now, with these varied clinical sites, my classmates who lived close to campus had their own commuting challenges, obviously - any placement NOT at GW meant that they had at least a half-hour commute to someplace else. Note: most places are way quicker to get to at 4:30am.

YEAR 4: is very much designed by you, so you’ll have tons of leeway in setting up a schedule that works for you.

So I’d suggest that you find out as much as you can about Vandy’s clinical sites and how much leeway you will have third year to choose where you do your clerkships. While you’re at it, find out as much as you can about the hours of clerkships. Third year has its appallingly demanding moments, yes - I won’t soon forget my OB rotation and the horrible hours. But there are also easier weeks and months at most medical schools. For example, psych is generally an 8-5 Monday through Friday sort of gig for most folks with the occasional call shift. For me, a VERY demanding inpatient month of Peds was followed by a downright cushy (5 minute commute!) outpatient month. At GWU, we did a rotation in primary care - strictly office hours, no calls, no weekends. Even surgery had its better moments; while general surgery was very tough with early and long hours, we also did subspecialty weeks and I found out WHY urologists are such happy people - relative to other surgeons, they start work late and leave early.

So that’s my perspective on the commuting side of it: to me, it doesn’t sound so bad and I can assure you that it’s do-able even during third and fourth year.

I would like to comment on the family side, which is where your situation is very different from mine. When I started med school, my husband had risen to a very senior executive position at the company he’d been with for over twenty years. (he has since changed jobs but that’s another story) So while you all sound comfortable with moving, it was NOT an option for us, and so I had to make the best of my situation. I briefly considered a weekend commuter deal that would allow me to apply to schools a little further away (Hopkins, U.Md., U.Va., MCV) but when I floated the idea at home, it fell decidedly flat.

Family understanding and support is EXTREMELY important while you are in med school. From your description of your family’s disposition, it sounds like moving to Minnesota is quite do-able and would not cause the kind of grief that I glimpsed when I proposed my weekend commuter arrangement. But if you start getting the idea that you are going to be putting your family through a lot of strain, then it’s time to really think hard. You’re the one attending classes, but your whole family goes to medical school with you in a way and it’s important that they be able to cope with it too.

Of course the converse is “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” and Mayo is your dream school… if you weigh all this out but your heart is just not with Vandy, that’s something to consider too.

There are a lot of trade-offs to keep in mind here, which is why I am managing to see several sides to this and may look like I am waffling. Vandy has the appeal of staying put - which is definitely something especially if your kids are getting older and more established in local activities. But you might actually compromise the “family togetherness” notion because of the long commute.

While I’m muddling this around, don’t forget that in four years you’re going to be going through the same thing of trying to decide where to move for residency. Like you said, you all are military and so moving every few years isn’t the big deal it might be for some. But I’d suggest you just factor that into your current thoughts, too.

Sorry for the muddled thinking! It’s never clear-cut when you have so much to figure in. Hope my perspective is helpful.