Residency with children???

Hi everyone-

So far all of the advice I’ve received on this forum has been “right on” so I’ve decided to pose another question to you. Have any of you, or any of the women you know who have young children been through residency? If so, what was it like? How many hours are you required to work these days as a resident? Although I’m sure that med school will require alot of work, because I’m an NP and have already learned much of the info, it doesn’t scare me quite as much as the residency portion of the training. If all goes as planned, I will be beginning my residency when my chldren are 15, 13, and 11. My fear is that I won’t be around for them enough. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

You could get as many different answers as there are residency programs… everyone’s experience is different. Much of your experience is specialty-dependent. OB/GYN and surgery are generally the most demanding specialties (though it depends on the type of surgery; my observation as a med student was that the urology, ophthalmology and ENT residents didn’t work too awfully hard). Primary care specialties will have harder and easier months so that overall, it’s not a killer experience. Here’s what I experienced for what it’s worth:

In med school I could be home for dinner every night, was able to do a lot of the kids’ stuff, even went on a few trips with my daughter’s skating team. Of course I also got paged by her at 4am one night when I was on call as a third year med student… so she could tell me about the trouble she’d gotten in (she was 17 at the time).

As an intern, if I was NOT on call, I was always home for dinner. (Call was every fourth night.) I had to get up really early, so certainly wouldn’t have wanted to stay up late to help with homework, but I was around in the evenings. As a second- and third-year resident, I was away from home usually from 7am to 6pm; again, if I was on call (which was about once a week), I wasn’t at home in the evening. But MOST evenings I was home, and MOST weekends I was around.

You hear about the “80 hours” rule but what you don’t hear so much is that it’s an AVERAGE over four weeks. On some of my intern rotations I certainly did average 80 hrs a week but on others it was definitely less. As a second and third-year resident I would guess that I averaged less than 60 hours a week. My husband would disagree with this estimate, because I always brought work home, but call from home and work from home actually don’t count as “duty time.” Okay, so that’s cheating in some respects, but if I am sitting at my kitchen table catching up on patient care notes from that day’s clinic session, it’s work but it’s still MY house and I am still available for phone calls, conversation, etc. It is not the same as being IN the hospital.

Quite honestly from my vantage point it’s not the quantity of time so much as the intensity of your efforts. Third year of med school, and residency, take a tremendous amount of effort and it is hard to focus on anything else. It got to be a joke in my family: “I told you about that, remember, Mom?” and of course I didn’t recall any of it.

There isn’t any way to change the ages of your kids so you just do it the best you can. But know that both for med school and for residency, they’re going to need to be pretty independent and you are going to need to feel comfortable with and confident in the folks who step up on your behalf, whether that’s your spouse/s.o./kids’ other parent, your neighbors or friends, other relatives… and you’ll need to feel confident in your kids, too, that they can take care of themselves.


Thanks so much for your imput. I do have a very supportive husband and a wonderful housekeeper, so after reading about your experience, it seems that although it will be difficult, it is definitely “doable”. It actually gives me hope.

Disclosure: only one of my 3 kids was still at home when I was in med school, although she was more work than her two older brothers combined.

I should’ve said that during my first two years of med school I was home for dinner every night. That certainly was NOT true during third year of med school which is a very taxing and difficult year for everyone.

And you get to work around stuff. I was able to arrange my third-year schedule so that I was on a lighter rotation when my eldest got married; you can skip classes during first and second year (in fact some people never go to class) and I attended skating competitions for my daughter both years. I missed some of my daughter’s stuff but was around for most of it; I attended my middle kid’s important college stuff and my oldest son’s graduation from college.

And I have to say, I think it was actually a real sanity-saver to have something ELSE to focus on besides med school. Oh, I could’ve obsessed over it and I could’ve gotten better grades, too, but I felt that maintaining my mom-identity was a good way to “keep it real.” I have no regrets.


I’ll admit it is SCARY, but…I’m hoping and praying that somehow my perserverance (and my supportive husband) will get me through.

May I ask how old you were at the time you began this endeavor?

Went back to school to do my prereqs at age 41, ten years ago (holy cow!!! that means I am old!!!). That year we took my eldest child off to college. The year I started med school, 2000, my middle kid started college and my youngest started high school. We had a great graduation party in 2004



I will be far older than you when I start (and my kids will be far younger (yikes!)). I am currently 44, and will be 46 when I apply to med school. I am hoping to enter med school at age 47. At that time my kids will be 12, 10 and 9 (gulp).

When I hope to enter med school, my kids will be 17 (senior), 17 (junior), 13 & 9. I suppose it’s better than it would’ve been 5 years ago…

well, i guess i’ll jump in and say…

when i hope to join med school (in 2010), my kids will be 8 and 6…at least they’ll be in school full-time!

  • NP2MD Said:

I will be far older than you when I start (and my kids will be far younger (yikes!)). I am currently 44, and will be 46 when I apply to med school. I am hoping to enter med school at age 47. At that time my kids will be 12, 10 and 9 (gulp).

I will cheerily point out that from my vantage point at age 51, 47 doesn't sound very different from 44 and certainly not "far older." (I am smiling as I type this, NOT busting your chops!) But I'm pointing out age stuff for two reasons:

1. Age is a state of mind in a LOT of ways. Not EVERY way and God knows I do feel my age at times, but it definitely is also a state of mind.

2. From the perspective of medical schools who more typically are dealing with applicants ages 20-25, 41 doesn't look any different from 47 or probably 51.


boards tomorrow.... really should NOT be on the internet....


My two will be 11 & 9…im almost engaged yay! So I already have a helper. They also have a great stepmom so I am fortunate with that.

I am with you on the being nervous about “not being there”! I dont want my kids sending me therapy bills when they are older!

Basically, no matter what, it will not be easy, but I just can’t give up the dream. Try as I might, I will never be 20 again, and no matter what I do, I’ll still be 47. Having said that I’d rather be 47 and be in med school than be 47 and not be in med school . By the way Mary, which area are you specializing in?

Family Medicine. It’s all in my signature

Oops…sorry. Hope you aced your boards