Greetings, everyone.

My name is Patrick. I’m in my early thirties and I’m starting a post-bacc program this May. I am currently a counselor (MSW, LSW) who wants to be a psychiatrist. I am super nervous and wondering how crazy I am to give up the relative comfort of my family life and career to pursue a medical degree. I keep wondering about the effects this will have on my five year old son, my marriage, and my life. I heard about this website from Dr. Gray’s premed podcast and I am hoping to get (and give) support from the community here.

Hello Patrick,

Welcome to the forum! I am 33 years old and have three daughters (4, 2, and a premie newborn). I think between Dr. Gray’s podcast and this forum you have the best resources for tackling your pre-med post-bacc.

I am at LSU and started in August 2015. Not sure how your math/science skills are, but Chemistry has been kicking me around all over town! I have a B.A. in Philosophy and Theology, worked in medical IT as a server side PACS administrator for six years, then got a M.A. in Theology and taught high school for four years. During my M.A. courses I met a physician that I became good friends with. He encouraged me to pursue medicine. I had always wanted to do it, but thought it was useless and that you had to be a mega-genius to be a doctor.

I am very happy with my pre-med life and my wife and family are very supportive of my journey. It will be very rough sometimes though. During exam week last semester my daughter would let go of my legs while I was trying to get out the door to go to class. I had to study so much I barely saw them over two weeks. There were three days straight I didn’t see my daughters at all. That was heart breaking and I will never forget the way she held onto my legs and said “daddy, don’t go to school I miss you”. That made me feel awful. To try and solve this my wife and I have utilized FaceTime while I study at school and I talk to them on the phone. We also let them text me with emojis since they can’t read yet. That has helped a lot with them still feeling connected to me. I came out of Chemistry with an A+ so all the studying paid off.

Another tip I can give you is setting up an account where you and your spouse have a shared calendar. I go through my syllabus and make sure to put all test dates, homework due dates, and class times in the calendar so my wife doesn’t schedule anything at the same time. I must admit that I came up with that plan after having to write a six page report for my EMT class with a fussy two year old in my lap because my wife scheduled a long doctor’s appointment during a time I thought I had to study!

A big thing to remember is that quality is more important than time spent with your child. Any time I have open for my kids I make sure I am 100% involved and that I don’t even have a cell phone nearby. I never watch TV with my kids either because I don’t feel that is really spending time with them since I have so little. Dinner is huge as well. I make absolutely sure that we are all able to eat dinner together at the same time at the dinner table. Recently, I missed one dinner due to studying. My daughters have talked about how it was so crazy they ate without me, I didn’t think they would really care, but they have brought up that I wasn’t at dinner for days now. So, that apparently is a big bonding moment for them. If you want to read something interesting about it here is a neat study:

A lot of people will tell you to just relax before classes start, but that was the worst advice for me. I should have been preparing and studying a bit before because I was so weak with math and science. I would try to contact your professors now and just tell them your story and ask how you can prepare yourself for getting back into classes. For chemistry learning algebra is important, especially how to do quadratic equations and logarithms. Whatever textbook the school uses should have an appendix in the back of the equations you will need to use.

Finally, for now, use and talk to students to find out who is a good, rigorous professor. Don’t try to take the easy professors to get an A. If you can’t make it through a post-bacc with the professors that make you work hard for your A, then you will not have a gauge of how you will make it through med school. I am taking the Chemistry professor with the toughest reputation right now and I have never learned so well and so much and been so challenged. You might want to try and speak with various professors at the school ahead of time and see which are most interested in conversing with you. I walked into a professors office the other day that teaches upper level courses and we spoke for about 30 minutes about my life, med school, and all kinds of stuff. I am definitely going to take him and hope to be able to get a letter of recommendation because it seems our personalities match well and we get along.

So, how many MedSchool HQ podcasts have you listed to? What courses do you need to take in total?

Welcome to the forum. One thing my wife and I worked out was that I would be home at least by bath time every night to spend time with the family. Sometimes it limits my study time, but it’s not a bad thing to step away from the books to maintain some perspective.

Thus far in my MS1 year, I’ve had some terrible teachers and I’ve had some great teachers. The differences lie in how they organize and present the material. What doesn’t change is the large amount of information that they try to convey in a very limited amount of time. One of my profs described his role to be a conduit for information but said that the vast majority of “learning” that we do is on our own. I’ve found this to be pretty true. Whether it’s reorganizing the information into a format that better suits me, or just sitting down trying to ingest everything, a lot of my true learning has been on my own/with other students. There’s just too much in each lecture to have it all down cold when I get out of my seat. All that to say, it might be good to have the hard professors in post bacc to really learn the stuff. However, you will most likely not need all of the info/the depth of knowledge that is relayed in your undergrad courses for the MCAT or med school. They’re all totally different beasts. I’m not saying that you should be able to skate through your course work either, because I think learning stuff and really understanding it is important. You have to balance your educational goals/needs with your ability to do well in the classes on paper (ie, your grade). Knowledge counts for tests, and grades count for getting into med school. (usually med schools look for good grades in undergrad, then you basically just need the equivalent of a ‘C’ to pass once you’re in). Once you’re in med school, I would shift that to “knowledge is important for grades, tests, and your practice.” That might be a cynical way to view it, but in reality, everything they want you to know when you’re actually in med school, they’ll teach you in med school. Depth and breadth of background knowledge from undergrad courses is helpful, but they’re not true necessities to succeed in med school.

Thanks for the advice. I just started keeping an online calendar with reminders for some stuff so adding classes, due dates etc should be no problem. I like the Facetime idea for study breaks too.

I really loved that article. I am really good at mommy guilt (I’m a woman named Patrick btw. I’m so used to it I forget it’s a bit unusual.) so reading about that study was great. In fact I was just talking to my husband about that if I was a guy I wouldn’t be second guessing my desire to pursue such a demanding career. Although, from reading both your posts perhaps that’s not entirely accurate.

I have to do 48 credit hours for my post-bacc (some of my MSW credits transferred in) and I haven’t really kept track of how many of the podcast I have listened to but I typically listen to at least one everyday. Thank you both for your welcome and advice. Coming to this website and the podcast really help keep me focused on why I want to begin this crazy adventure!

Welcome to the community! Sounds like you’re very organized and have a supportive family. That makes a HUGE difference. The clinical years are worse in terms of balancing family/school mainly due to having so little control over your schedule and it being so variable. But it’s doable, and can be very enjoyable and rewarding. Good luck to you on your journey!

Welcome Patrick!