MD or Masters?

Hello. I’ve not looked on this site for a while. I’m considering two possible choices and which ever I choose, that will most likely be where I end up. I’ve been accepted into a grad school program and as a 2nd bachelor’s degree program. I’d been working both angles, but not really sure which is going to be better. My current employer will help with the cost of grad school and I’d get promoted once received to a $75-80K/year job.

On the other hand, I recently felt the call to medicine. I’m 26, but have a family (wife + 2 kids) and a mortgage. It seems somewhat fool-hardy to give up a good paying job to go chasing a dream…an expensive one at that. Being a doctor has many positives that in the long term make it a much better match for me. In the short term, it’s two years (minimum) for pre-reqs, plus 4 years of med school, plus residency. Is it really fair to drag my family through 9 years of constant and difficult schooling?

I’d appreciate any advice offered.

I have always told me that these forums are people who have “been there done that”. I am in that moment right now.

I was in a career as a research scientist and working for a well known cancer hospital. The benefits were great and they even paid for my Masters degree. However, the pay was not that great since I was working in academia. But with my Masters degree and experience I would be able to transition back into industry and get significantly more pay. I also had 2 kids and a mortgage. This was almost 8 years ago.

Let’s flash forward to today. I have 3 kids and 1 on the way. I still have a mortgage and I am almost 200K in debt. But in 1 year I will be a doctor and I will be happy for achieving a dream that I have always wanted. And I have had the unwaivering support of my family. Especially my wife and children.

However, before I made the move and the decision to go to medical school my wife and I had a very long conversation. She agreed because she knew that I at least wanted to try to get into medical school. When I was researching schools, I started with a long list of ones that I was interested in and then her and I looked them over. I eliminated the ones that were in a part of the country that she did not want to go. By including her as a part of the process allowed her not to feel as if she had no control.

Now that I am looking for residencies, she gave me a 5 year limit for training. That is fine, because Emergency Medicine is not more than 4 years and the combined EM/IM program is 5 years.

In the end, we will all be happy because I followed my dream and achieved it, she will benefit not only from the fruits of that dream but also I love more than ever because she was encouraging and sacrificed so I can get there. And I show my kids what rewards you get from working hard and chasing a dream and achieving it.

So to answer your question, it is only fool hardy if you believe it to be. Just the fact that this organization has begun to have graduates that are physicians should tell you that for many people it was not fool hardy. The best advice would be to sit down with your wife and talk with her. You may be surprised.

Figure out if your “call to medicine” is an authentic desire from deep within and not just a passing fancy, a desire to escape current concerns, or an allurement to the supposed glamor of being a physician.

One way to do this is to shadow several physicians for a couple of hundred hours. This may sound substantial (though it’s really only about ten hours a week for a few months, not all that arduous), but it’s a small price to pay if you find out that you really love medicine, and it’s the best bargain ever if you find out you DON’T like medicine. You certainly don’t want to make the gigantic financial, emotional, and family sacrifice to be a physician, only to find out in medical school or residency that you hate it.