Med School Life

I know that this probably gets asked on here over and over but I didn’t see it in the first few pages so I thought I would ask some of the med students on here. I am about 98% sure I want to make a go at med school and am just trying to look at all of the angles. For you folks on here that have spouses and kids what is it like? Do you never see your family? I know there is going to be a ton of studying, but currently when I study I study with my family around? Most of our married life I have been a full time worker and 2 to 3 classes at night a semester (albeit in another field), if I am only focusing on school will it be any different? If so how much? Right now I am taking 2 sciences and a lab and working 36 hours a week. I spend most of the time when I am not at work or class studying or homework. I am just trying to get a handle on how much different it will be in med school.

Hi, BaileyPup. I am married without children, but a number of my classmates have partner and children and think they would agree. It is managable. You don’t have a lot of time for “extra” stuff, and there will be times that you feel you are “ignoring” your family, but people make it work and I have yet to learn of anyone whose relationship ended over it. We did have two people with children (one single, one married) who did end up extending (5 year med school instead of 4), but they were in the minority, and I’m not certain of the circumstances which caused them to extend their schedules.

Best of luck in your decision!

I’ve got a spouse and 2 kiddos —

It was rough. I had to repeat 1st year but I think that was partially due to the fact that I let a certain person get inside my head about the ‘difficulty’ level and the fact that I had a 3 hour round trip to school.

Once I moved closer to school (within walking distance), I never had a problem. I went home on weekends when there were no exams the next Monday and we made it work. Looking back on it now, I probably should have moved that first year prior to starting to be closer to the school.

I was one of those people who did everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) they told me to do - did ALL the reading, plus went to class, plus studied PPTS and got very little sleep. My performance paid for it. I generally started the day at 07:30 and ended it around 01:00 or 02:00 depending on when the classes started the next day. That was M-F. Weekends were generally 8 to 10 hours each day. I usually took from 16:00 Saturday to 14:00 Sunday off to be with the family.

It’s doable. I really believe that if I had figured out how I was studying wrong in my pre-clinical years, things would have been way different.

Check my diary for more answers…

Thank you for sharing your experiences in med school.

What about residency?

For those of you who are already a resident with kids, what does your day look like? What’s your typical schedule? Are you still studying? How much time are you still getting with the kids?

Please share.

Thanks a lot!

Volkmar Gaussmann

It’s going to vary widely depending on specialty. ACGME states that residents are to work no more than 80 hours per week/averaged over 4 weeks (I think neurosurgery is 88). There are also limits on how many consecutive hours you can spend in the hospital. In theory, you’re also supposed to have 4 duty free days per month. Some programs adhere very tightly to the work hour rules, others, not so much.

In general, your surgical specialties tend to have the longest hours, but there is still variation from month to month depending on the requirements of the service. ICU months are typically very long hours, other service months may be lighter. Services that have a lot of call can also be difficult - some have Q3 or Q4 overnight call. A lot of places have started “night float”, where instead of a different resident taking call every night (and one resident having call every 3-4 days), a specific resident is assigned to cover nights only from 5-6 pm until 6-7 am the next morning during the week. This definitely cuts down on the amount of call, but residents typically hate their night float months.

And yes, you still have to study. The ACGME requires 5 hours of educational activity per week - most programs have lecture either once a week for 4-5 hours or have a daily morning or lunch lecture. Different programs will have different academic requirements. Most of the EM programs I looked at had assigned readings every month. Some of them gave quizzes/tests, some didn’t. Nearly every specialty will have a yearly in-service exam that may factor into your evaluations and whether or not you get promoted to the next year of residency. Additionally, you will probably have some kind of on-going board prep.

Again, people manage to have kids during residency and not feel like they’re totally absent. There will be some days/weeks/months where you won’t be home much, but there will be others that aren’t so bad.

I have similar questions. I still have a ways to go in my post-bac program. I wonder if there is there any sort of listing of parent-friendly residency programs? I hear the residency, more than med school, is what is challenging for life-family balance.

Not really. There are hundreds (thousands?) of residency programs in a wide variety of specialties, so it would be impossible to put together a “family friendly list”. That being said, there are definitely specialties and programs that are more family friendly than others. As you progress through your education, you will get a feel for the different specialties, and when it’s time to apply, advisors and residents can help you out with applying to programs that may be a good fit for you. You can usually get a decent feel for how family friendly a program is during interviews.