On the fence - FUD - Help!

Hello everyone,

I’m new to this forum. I’m 37 years old, divorced and have a ten year old daughter. I have been in a serious relationship for the last 8 years with someone who just began a fellowship… Please forgive my long post, but I feel like I’m stressing myself out with this decision.

When I was an undergrad, many, many years ago, I took a major detour and went through a very rough period. I was busy working out issues from a strict upbringing. In short, I was a bad student and destroyed my transcript. Fortunately, during the last year of undergrad, I pulled myself up and graduated. Shortly thereafter, I began working at a pharmaceutical company. After a few years of working, however, I wasn’t satisfied. I realized I did myself a huge disservice. I had this burning desire to go into medicine and help people, despite my abysmal track record. So, around the time my daughter was one, I began doing an unofficial post-bac while working. The hole that I had dug myself was very deep, so I undertook one of the world’s longest post-bacs completing 120-quarter units. However, I discovered that I loved being a student and regained my confidence in the sciences. I performed well, with the exception of one quarter when I was going through a nasty divorce.

For the most part, I’ve closely guarded my dream. I’ve only shared what I’ve been doing with close family and friends for fear of failing and being judged harshly. Some people have said, " Why not consider being a PA? Or how about nursing? Aren’t you too old? Won’t they discriminate against you? What will happen to your daughter?" But, it seems, the more someone told me I couldn’t do it, the more I wanted to do it. I applied once in 2008 and didn’t get in. I went back to the drawing board and took more classes and undertook more volunteer positions. In 2011, I ended up moving across the country to be with my significant other during his residency years. Again, I began work at a primary care medical organization. Somehow I still couldn’t shake the medical school dream. I’d lay awake some nights thinking that I’d delayed what I had worked so hard to achieve. So, I applied very late in the application cycle this year. I had one of the last interview spots for two schools. I was wait-listed to both… And then, finally, after so many sacrifices and years of doubting myself and hearing others tell me that I was too old and couldn’t do it, I was offered a spot. I was elated and broke into tears when I received the news. It all seemed surreal…

Fast forward to today, I’m less than one month away, and all I can think about are the negatives:

  • Am I smart enough?

  • Will I fail out?

  • Will I become a deadbeat mother/partner/friend?

  • Will my daughter turn out okay or will this totally undermine her development?

  • How will I help her do her extracurricular activities?

  • Will I be able to maintain my relationship?

  • If my relationship fails, will I ever have one again?

    -Is this the end of my having children?

    Suddenly, I’m totally panicking. Balance is so important to me. And yes, I know that I’m pursuing a field with very little balance. So, why did I want to pursue it in the first place? I don’t know. I just know that when I’ve worked with patients in the past, I get this inexplicable feeling of satisfaction and joy being of service to others. But, the last thing I want to do is be a bad parent or partner. My parents are totally down to help me pickup the slack with my daughter, but all I can think about are the effects that my personal aspiration will have on those that I love most. Maybe my daughter needs me more now than these other strangers? I know that I should be grateful and excited to begin this journey, so please don’t think that I’m not. I am aware of how difficult it is to get into school for many people. I’m hoping that some of you who have completed this journey or who are on this journey will share your story with me, good and bad. Thank you!

Hi there

My advise to you is do not let anyone get in the way of your dream. you are on your way now and you can and will do this. Look at the wonderful example you are giving to your daughter by going back to school. you are showing her that she too can achieve anything in life if she puts her mind to it. I was 47 going back to med school and my son was 11. I am now a first yr resident and thrilled that I did it. BTW I was a nurse and then an NP for 10 years. I thought becoming an NP would make me forget my dream to become a physician. It did not. Congrats to you on getting in. Enjoy every minute of your journey

Hi Orla,

Thank you for your words of encouragement. I appreciate it! Since you’ve already made it through medical school, please tell me did you have any time for your loved ones during those years? Have they ever complained? Did you just start your intern year? Intern year is supposed to be one of the worst years. How has it been for you? Although, I imagine that with all of your prior related career experiences you’ve had a leg up on everyone else and are probably doing awesome!

Congratulations on completing this leg of a very long journey.

You need to remember that even if you were not going to medical school, you would be going to work correct? So you would be out of the house and come home anyway correct? So how is that different than medical school.

You will need to figure out what it is that you need to do in order to have good quality time with you family. Is it possible? Yes. Will it be hard? Yes. But you will be able to do it.

When I started medical school, I had 3 girls (6, 3, and 1). During my 3rd year, we were surprised with girl #4. They all survived and they know I am their Daddy and that I love them. Sure there are things that I was unable to go to, but the time that I spent with them was quality.

You can spend all day at home with your kids, but if they are in their rooms and you are somewhere else watching TV, then how is that any different from you not being home? That is quantity but not quality. You need to think about quality.

They will be fine. You will be fine. Just enjoy the ride. And if they have homework, then do it together… just a thought.

Read through the diaries and you will see that you are not the only one with children. And no, it will not be the end of children unless you want it to be.


Thanks for replying to my post and boosting my morale! I appreciate all the input I can get from others with experience. Wow! You have quite a compelling story.

Yes, you are right. If I weren’t going to school I would be working. Although I don’t know that I would be working 75 -85 hours per week…

And you make a very valid point about presence or lack thereof. It is true that you may be under the same roof, but not actively engaging with your kids. Quality is more important than quantity. I will definitely keep this in mind.

My SO and you are doing the same fellowship so you may run into one another one of these days at a conference.

I give props to your wife; she must be quite a woman.

Thanks again for your encouragement and I hope that your fellowship is going well!

Auj -

Best of luck! I think your daughter will be very proud of you. My kids were grown when I started. I wish, however, that I had begun school a little younger:)

One of my classmates had 2 kids from a former marriage, got remarried before starting year 1, had to leave her husband and 3 stepdaughters for the first year as he could not take them out of state. But judge saw reason and they moved down during the summer before 2nd year. Until then, she skyped every day and had her two boys with her. She had child number 6 in the middle of 2nd year. Passed everything, made it thru 3rd and 4th year, and is in her internship year now.

Just thought I’d let you know that being in medical school does not necessarily mean no babies…