Reintroducing myself...

Hello everyone. I’ve been reading the forums on and off for probably 7 years or so. I posted eons ago, but things have changed a bit since then so I’d like to get some new feedback. It’s a bit of long story so brace yourselves…

My mother in law is a radiologist and she was an “old” premed over 20 years ago. She got a BS in nursing in the 1960s, worked for several years, and then stayed home with her three kids for a while. When my husband was 7 (BIL was 5, SIL was 3), she started med school. DH was graduating high school when she joined her practice full time. She’s still working, as the president of her 8 doctor group. I’ve gotten to see glimpses of her work life over the last 6 years and it’s intrigued me.

I was always interested in biology, genetics especially, from middle school on. I had my first son at 16, which threatened to derail my college plans. But I graduated HS on time and commuted to college - I earned a BS in biology in 3 years, cum laude. I thought about medical school during undergrad, but my concerns about being a single parent with massive student loans deterred me from getting really serious. One of my professors suggested I look into PhD programs instead. At 20, the fact that they were essentially “free” and you got a stipend was enough to make me decide to take the GRE and apply. I started my PhD program in 1999, 2 months after I turned 21 with my almost 5 year old in tow.

The beginning of grad school was great - I loved the classes, the atmosphere, the independence - but my thesis research (mostly in vitro biochem, some genetics) hit a major road block around 2002. I seriously questioned whether or not I should leave research, take a terminal MS degree and apply to medical school. Ultimately, I couldn’t bring myself to be a “quitter” so I stuck out the bad times, published a few times and graduated in 2004. At that point, I was set on the idea of becoming a full-time college professor. So I did the next logical thing and took a mouse genetics postdoc at an Ivy. My time as a postdoc was really happy, both professionally and personally.

A few personal tidbits - I met my husband in 2003, got engaged in 2004, married in 2005, and gave birth to twin boys in 2006. I was/am the primary breadwinner in the family so the addition of the twins made me feel like I needed to hurry up and get a “real” job.

I applied to probably 2 dozen small liberal arts colleges, got only one phone interview, and panicked. I stumbled across medical writer jobs and was enticed by the money. I only lasted 9 months though - the travel was more than I expected, I felt extremely guilty that I was being a bad mom with the twins being so young, etc. I lucked out and found a teaching position at an affluent public school and have been there ever since. With my work schedule, I’ve been able to adjunct at a local Uni and freelance medical write too. I should be happy.

Still, I find myself thinking more and more about the what ifs… While I find many aspects of teaching rewarding, I miss the intellectual challenge of grad school/post doc life. I think I need scientific puzzles to actively solve in order to feel fulfilled - not just talking or writing about biology.

I am now 31. My oldest son will be 15 in October; the twins will be 3 in less than 2 weeks. I’ve begun to think that I might want to try to shoot for entrance to med school in August 2012 - my eldest would be beginning college at the same time, the twins would be in school full day. I’d be 34. I’m not sure what area of medicine would best suit me, but I figure I should expect to take until about 42-43 to complete all training.

I have a lot of reservations though. I worry about the cost (I’m still the one with the salary to support the family), my ability to get a decent MCAT score (the one online practice test I took was abyssmal), the impact being in med school would have on my boys and my marriage (DH spent a lot of time with people other than MIL growing up), etc. What really scares me though is that I may just be thinking about medical school because I want a challenge and not really to be in medicine. I’m afraid of being unable to commit to a profession. We are going to visit the in laws this weekend so I asked my mother in law if I could go to work with her on Friday. She agreed, but I think she’s confused as to why I want to.

Can anyone tell me what the final switch was for them - how did you know that making this big career leap was the right thing?

Wow - Great story! The final leap for me included several factors. First, I was finally determined to quite asking “What if…?” Second, my son is old enough to handle me being occupied most of the time. He was 15 when I started night school and wanted to hang with his friends anyway. Third, my wife was 100% on board. So, I’ve been taking classes for 2 years and am currently applying to medical school. As for the MCAT - check out that board, there is a ton of good advice on how to prep for it. At 31, you’re not that old anyway

Good luck with your decision.

Interesting perspecitve…the challange of getting into medical school, vs. the practice of medicine.

I think about that one alot.

Just get into medical school, then you have the option of saying Yes/No.

You can always do research in medicine- you will have much more credibility with am MD, I am sure.