Medical school with a 3 year old daughter

Hi everyone,

I have been working for the past three and half years as an electrical engineer. To be quite honest, I hate my job. I loved engineering school, but the actual engineering field is nothing like school. The engineering field is very slow paced, with little stimulation on a daily basis.

I wanted to apply to medical school after I graduated from college, but I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I had a lot of debt, that has since been eliminated because I have worked for three years. Well, now I am facing a round of layoffs at my company. It got me thinking about my job, how I don’t want to live my life with the threat of layoffs because I’m in the engineering field. So I have made the decision to pursue medical school. I have to take organic chemistry and the MCAT, so I imagine I won’t apply for 18 more months.

Here is my main concern though. I know I will be happy entering a fast paced, stimulating environment such as medicine. I like interaction with people and constantly using my brain. I do, however, have a three year old daughter. By the time I start medical school, she will probably be six years old. I will have to study from morning until night - 7 days a week. How do I parent my daughter? Is the lack of time I spend with my daughter while I am in medical school and my residency going to produce an insecure, rebellious child? I do not want to have a rebellious teenage daughter who thinks her mother’s school was more important than she was. I want her to be confident and see me accomplish my goals so she can accomplish hers. I think most mainstream moms will tell me to put my daughter first, and I feel incredibly guilty. However,my unhappiness has definitely rubbed off on my daughter. She knows mom is not happy, and that breaks my heart because I am unable to fix it at this time in my life.

Can anyone who went through medical school and the residency with kids my daughter’s age tell me what should I expect? Is it possible to still attend soccer games and dance recitals in medical school? What do your kids think when you have to miss these special occasions? Thank you.

I don’t have an answer for you, but I am in the same boat. My daughters are 3, 1, and 1 (twins). I will be following this thread closely in hopes of finding the same answer myself.

No answers here either, but just wanted you to know that you are NOT alone. My daughter is 3, and I’m just beginning this journey at 33. I’ll be 36 when I start med school, and she’ll be almost 7…first grade… wow! She’ll be almost a teenager when I’m done.

It’s my greatest fear… doing this with little ones (we are trying to have another baby right now.) If I didn’t have kids, it would be a no-brainer… but being a mommy is the greatest honor of my life… and I KNOW that this can work. We can do this together, my family and I…

Check out some of the diaries and posts on --I’ll warn you… not all the stories have happy endings. Some make it with major victory, and others have sadder outcomes. But I think it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into, and the women who’ve journaled there through their experience certainly made me consider some things I hadn’t thought of yet.

Everyone is all gung-ho and supportive now for me… but I keep trying to educate them all about how it’s “going to be.” Because I don’t want anyone going in blind. Doing this with little ones takes sacrifice on the part of your entire family, and in some cases…extended family and friends as well.

But it IS possible. And what you can teach your daughter through this experience is pretty incredible, if you think about it. The key is just how you approach it, the communication you have, and what you do with the time that you DO have with your little ones. If you are careful with that time, you can pack more love, quality, memories, and mommy-ing into 2 hours than some do in a whole day.

We CAN do this. Just gotta plan…

So, sorry–not exactly what you were asking for. But I just had to tell you that you’re not the only one! And much luck to you on your journey…

I am a father of 4 (9, 7, 4, 4mo) and I can tell you that while not easy, it is doable. Just got home from a day in the ICU and am really beat. When I renew, I will post more.

  • gabelerman Said:
I am a father of 4 (9, 7, 4, 4mo) and I can tell you that while not easy, it is doable. Just got home from a day in the ICU and am really beat. When I renew, I will post more.

WOW. I. AM. IMPRESSED. That's amazing... you are my new hero today!

I would LOVE to hear more of your story... good grief, there's probably a book in there somewhere. Making it to the end, and a newborn to boot? Whew! Hats off to you!!!

I’m a first year EM resident and I have an almost 4 year old and a 6 month old. Like Gabe, I just got home from a long shift in the ED, but I’ll post some more when I have time. Have to work tomorrow night too, so it might be a couple of days.

In the meantime, I know Gabe has posted about balancing med school and family a couple of times and I have as well. You might want to browse through some older posts and see what you come up with.

I am really glad to see I am not the only one crazy enough to attempt medical school with a child. I have a 4 month old and she will be almost 2 when I enter medical school (If I get in!). I know it will be hard but I believe it is doable. I have never been one to let my grades suffer because of personal difficulties, all-nighters are not unusual to me. I will also not let my daughter suffer because she is my world. My sleep will suffer, and my social life will suffer, but so what? This is 6 years, 8 years max out of my life, that’s nothing in the scheme of things. As long as I can keep up with all the work and make a normal life for my daughter and give her everything she needs, who cares if I barely sleep for 8 years?

This is doable. I just posted a very down post - its been a rough month - but mostly I haven’t regretted a single day of medical school so far (I’m a second year) and my kids are doing fine (my 8 year old and two year old). You can do it. Just make sure you have a few people around you to give you a little encouragement when it feels like too much!

There are lots of pre-med, med students, and residents who have kids and managed to make it thru. It is hard work and not easy at times. If I get enough members willing to discuss it, I will setup a parents/families panel on this topic in the next confernce

I don’t have any answers but I’ve got a lot of the same questions. I’ve got an 11-year old, 5-year old twins, and an 11 day old.

I had it all planned out… finish grad school, then take a couple of prereqs while studying for the MCAT, then apply for a postbacc, then take the big leap. I was definitely not planning to find out I was expecting a few weeks before graduation. So much for plans, heh.

I’ll be lurking around to see how others manage… best of luck!

  • In reply to:
I will have to study from morning until night - 7 days a week.

So first of all . . . not exactly. If you made it through engineering classes, you're probably pretty bright. While there are no doubt a few people who study as described above, the vast majority do not. You have to balance study with a personal life whether you have a family/kids or not.

Different people have different study requirements. My medical school had an independent study program for the first two years, and most people treated their studies like a job . . . they came in to the ISP library and studied from 7 to 5ish M-F, + maybe a little bit on the weekend if they needed to catch up or were about ready to take a test. People not in independent study might go to lecture until 12 or so, study until 4 or 5, break for dinner/relaxation and then study a little bit more before bed. Or, they might not go to lecture (many schools now podcast the lectures) and instead stay at home and study/watch the lectures as needed.

Most people with children make it a priority to set a certain amount of time a day aside for family/kids and maybe a certain day a week. For example, some will go home and from dinner through kids bedtime is devoted to the children, and then they study for a couple of hours after the kids are in bed. Some people set aside one weekend day where they do no studying (the exception might be if there is a test the next week) and focus on family.

Don't think that you will not be able to make any of your kids' events. Medical school is far more flexible than you might think (residency less so). Still, people have done it. Consider medical school as a full time job with routine overtime . . . you can probably do just fine in medical school on less time than you might think. You learn to be efficient. You may not spend much time socializing with your peers because you want to spend your precious free time with your family.

And . . . you make trade-offs. I didn't want to go into an uber competitive specialty like ophtho or derm, so I didn't feel the compulsion to study non-stop. I didn't get many pre-clinical honors . . . passing was just fine with me. (Not to mention that how you do 3rd year is far more important than how you do the first 2 years).

Is it a sacrifice? Yes, it is. My first 3rd year rotation was surgery and I went for 4 days without seeing my daughter (she was in bed by the time I got home). It sucked. I cried. However, it was a short period of time. I take it a day at a time, and a month at a time. Some months are easier than others. Is it doable? Yes. Myself and many others have done it and I don't think our children are any worse for the experience.