Opinions Please - 1/2 time med school

I think I have already made up my mind, but I would like some opinions of others with experience…
For the past five years I have been a full time stay-at-home mom, taking premed courses part time here and there between babies. I now have three children ages 5, 3, and 7 months. I will be an M1 at U of Iowa Carver College of Medicine this August! Iowa offers an extended program option, which basically breaks down the first 2 years of med school into three years. The last semester before clinicals and then the clinical years follow a normal schedule.
I am trying to decide whether or not to take the 5 year schedule. My husband quite frankly, has no idea how much I do at home and how much he would have to pitch in once I start classes, which worries me a bit. I also worry about how much I will miss the kids and vice versa, since I will have to study all of the time I am not in class.
So, as you can probably tell, I have pretty much convinced myself that the five year plan is the way to go. However, it does entail more tuition (approx. 4.8 years worth all together) and yet another year before I start to have an income. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect to be rich, but I do need to pay my student loans and I have three kids to put through college!
I also sometimes feel like I am taking the wimpy way out if I choose the five year plan.
Any thoughts?

Can you start in the four year program and see how that goes and then if you need to will they let you change to the 5 year plan? if the answer is yes go for that. If OTOH the answer is no and you have to start the five year plan now then I would probably opt for that due to having such little ones…


I would say to go with your gut feelings and do whichever program feels right to you. It really doesn’t make any difference if you are a doctor in 4 years or 5 years. As to the loans, it will make a 1 year difference in paying them back, but in the total picture that is a very little amount of time.

And . . if you are concerned about your husband being able to handle the tasks while you’re in school, doing the first 2 years in a 3 year period will give him a little time to adjust. Personally, I think you will be amazed how fast he can adjust. My husband has become great about cooking, keeping the house decent, and even doing the laundry. . . most of the time without complaining

Regardless of which choice you make, let me wish you the best of luck as you proceed into your medical school career!

  1. Congratulations!
    2. Do it. No question in my mind, actually. It will allow you to be both a better learner and a happier mom. It will also allow a bit of a transition into the much greater time demands of your fourth and fifth years, and your residency.
    good luck!

Follow Joe’s advice Angie. Doing this thing in the 4yr plan is tough enough, doing it with kids is suicidal. I know, I have 4. I beat everyone here…yea I win. Work yourself in slow. You’ll be glad you did and you will do better overall.
I concur with Dr. Wright…

I’d take the 5 year program as well. Your kids are very young, and though mine are older (7, 13, 21) I know how much work they are. Take it slower and be happier. And another thing…with three kids that age, ask your hubby to start pitching in NOW, so that the transition is smoother when you start. I learned the hard way that hubby taking over at the beginning of med school is not good.

Hi there,
A decelerated program makes perfect sense if you find that your home duties are going to demand more of your time. There is nothing “wimpy” about these programs and they will allow your children to be older and a bit more self-sufficient when you have to be in the hospital for clinical rotations with overnight call. If the decel program makes sense for you and your family, go for it and don’t worry about what anyone thinks.
Residency directors are looking for people who have good grades, good USMLE scores and good abilites to manage situations. If you are able to manage your home duties with three kids, do well in medical school and post good USMLE scores, I don’t think that anyone can use “wimp” in a description of you. If you don’t mind paying the extra tuition (may be worth it for your peace of mind) then participate in this program.

Thank you, everyone for your advice. I have decided to go ahead and take the 5 year plan. I hope it will allow me to spend more time with my kids and be there for them during this transition. I have a meeting with the Dean on March 28 to make the arrangements.
U of Iowa
Carver College of Medicine

Hi Angie,
I am currently finishing my second year of the five year program at Meharry Medical College in TN. I opted for the program because I had been out of school for awhile (8yrs.) and I had a 2 year old. I think you will be glad that you did the five year program. It definitly helped me get acclimated before I had to take a full load. I started the full load this semester because of curriculum changes at my school. I have found it to basically be the same amount of work just on different things. I can’t pick my child up at 3:00 anymore and spend as much time with him as I could before. Now school takes most of my time and my husband has really stepped up into the role of primary household person. The only drawback with the five year plan is that the basic sciences seem to take FOREVER. Really. They just seem to drag on and on. Hope you enjoy school. All and all it is really a great experience.

Hi all,
I just thought I’d give you an update. I spoke with the Dean and had my 5-year schedule approved. She was very helpful and fully supported my decision. She also said she would have my first semester schedule arranged so that I will be finished on campus by noon everyday. I still plan to stay 8-5. That way, I will be “present” with my family in the evenings and hopefully even some weekends. I think this will work out well for us, and help my family ease into the transition of me being full time mommy to full time doctor.
Thanks again!