Thinking about starting this journey.... a few questions

I wanted to start by thanking everyone on here for sharing their stories, if it wasn’t for this message board I would have assumed that non-trad wasn’t possible.

I have a few questions that don’t often come up because they’re complicated questions about starting this journey with a family.


    1. how is everyone emotionally during the process (pre-med,med school, residency) in regards to the impact on their family?

    2. Did you geographically restrict yourself to your immediate area or did you move with your family? I have 3 med schools within a few hours of me but one is a reach school so realistically 2 (may apply farther depending on if moving is an option at that point).

    3. How do you financially make it work? obviously there are loans for expenses but have a family means we have more expenses than most? Does your spouse work?

    4. Has anyone had a wife that wasn't supportive? (mine is supportive but hesitant)

    5. Did you make the switch because of financial reasons or because this was your calling? I'm asking because I make plenty of money(around 100k) but am not happy.

    6. Do/did you own a house? if so did you sell it when you went to med school to lower costs(assuming you didn't already move)?

To elaborate on my questions

Obviously we have supportive families but I can't help but feel guilty about the sacrifice I'm asking my family to make. I feel selfish asking my family to adjust and possibly move for my dream.

I'm currently an Engineer. There is nothing wrong with my current profession(in demand,pay is good, etc) but it isn't what I wanted to do... it's just where life lead me. In undergrad, I originally wanted to go to medical school. I took a few pre-reqs and got A's but somewhere in there I talked myself out of it. My wife(gf at the time) wanted a family, I didn't believe in myself, felt rushed to start working, etc.

A little bit of background

I'm in my early 30's. I have 2 bachelors degrees and am mid way through a masters degree(engineering related). I have a wife and 2 kids (3 y/o and newborn). My timeline/gameplan is to finish up my masters and then take the rest of pre-reqs, this should put me at about 5 years from now when I start applying. The gameplan is to have my wife stay home from now until both kids are in school, then when she goes back to work, I go to med school.

As for why medicine, I've wanted to be a doctor as long as I can remember(I know, cliche.) I've always wanted to figure out why things happened medically. When people had illnesses, I started googling to figure out why.

As for what re-sparked my interest now, when my first child was born, the pregnancy/delivery was a little rough (high risk/premature delivery, etc.) During this scary/emotion time, we had several awesome docs that really helped us through. Same thing with our pediatrician, he did his first visit as a home visit and gave us his personal cell and email. It was the first time where a physician built a relationship with us instead of just scheduling appointments and treating illness. To this day I can text our pediatrician and ask him "is this normal?" although, I try not to because I know hes busy. I want to do that. Edit: I forgot to add that the baby is healthy today, no issues!

My current cumulative gpa is some where around 3.3 (3.24 in first bsc, 3.2 in second bsc, 4.0 in masters) By my calculations if I can get 4.0 through rest of masters and all prereqs, I should be around 3.5 cumulative. I know amcas breaks that down by ug/postbacc/grad but I have no idea how that works if I have 2 undergrad degrees(they were done at separate time, not as part of a dual degree program).

I know this is long but I'm thankful to anyone that reads it and give insight.

I had 1 kid when I applied, had second kid at the end of 1st year of medical school.

  1. It sucks spending so much time studying and putting medicine first (because you feel like you have to in order to make it). You can always carve out some family time though, and that’s good for both your mental wellness as well as your family’s happiness. I was military before, so being “absent” wasn’t a new thing, but being “presently absent” was an adjustment.

  2. I applied to any school that looked like it would take me and matched my applicant profile (ie grades, mcat, history, etc). I ended up at what I thought was going to be my reach school. My family was willing to move, and the government was paying for the move anyway, so that was one thing that helped be broad.

  3. I’m doing the Military scholarship, which gives the equivalent of a single person’s cost of living portion of the overall cost of attendance. We have a secondary income from rental property that we own free and clear. Some people in my class have spouses that work. Otherwise, you can apply for loans. Your kids will likely qualify for medicaid if you have an income below whatever the poverty line cutoff is (at least one of my friend’s has done this).

  4. Wife is fully supportive and helps me by keeping me honest on family time and taking care of myself.

  5. I too was making 6 figures before making the big change. I did it because medicine was something I really wanted to pursue eventually. I was able to live out my childhood dream in my first career then made the transition when it made sense.

You basically sound like me quite a few years back. Early 30s, engineer, married, one kid with another on the way, working on an engineering master’s degree. We’ve managed through it so far.

  1. It’s tough on the family, but it very much depends on how you manage things. It’s very easy to get consumed in all of this, but you have to make time for your family. It was hard in the first few semesters of med school, but it’s gotten a lot easier as things have moved along. You’ll always feel like you can/should study more, but you learn to get over that.

  2. I very much restricted myself geographically. I only applied to one school so that my family wouldn’t have to move.

  3. Finances are tough. I max out the student loan amounts (including additional $ for child care), my wife works part-time, I’m still drawing down on some savings. I also have a few side hustles (engineering consulting work, online tutoring, Uber) in order to help supplement income.

  4. Like your wife, mine is supportive but cautious. We’ve had many, many discussions about this path, and I’ve had to make some assurances to her that she and the kids are still having their needs met in order to continue down this road.

  5. On the financial side, this is at best a break-even option until all the loans are paid back. So no, not for the money. I did it because I was unhappy in my prior career and needed a change and needed to feel like I was making more of a difference.

  6. I own (well, the bank owns it, but whatever) a house. We bought the house before I went to school. Where we are, it would cost us just as much (if not more) to rent a nice house within a good school district. It made more sense for us to stay put, and we’ve been able to keep up with it ok.

    Best of luck. Let us know how we can help.

Same here. Currently a resident, going into Radiology. My answers would be similar to what bennard says.

Emotionally difficult path. Financially difficult as well but this can be planned. Hopefully your SO can keep a paid activity. Mine was able to. I also didn’t have any loans going into Med School (PhD and MBA paid off). You can expect a lot of concessions and sacrifices. It is not easy and your will is going to be tested. So make sure you have a real discussion with your SO. This in my opinion, amongst all aspect, is likely the single most important factor for success (aside determination and hard work).

As a resident now, I just my first paid week of vacation since December 2009!!! Even though I have loans, given my wifes’ job(s) we are financially OK now. Not living the fast lane by any mean, but we have a spacious house for our 2 kids, in a nice neighborhood. Kiddos are going to a good private school (expensive but worth it). Our cars are decent and safe (certainly not German berlines). All in all, I feel that I am now a bit more of a “normal person”. I am still far away from being set, but I feel good about what I accomplished. So I am not ashamed of making my 50+K/year (even when this amounts to $14/month when I am on the MICU service)…

It was all worth it.

Thanks everyone for the responses!

Sorry for the late response, I typed a response up a few days ago and must not have hit submit.

I had a talk with my wife and she thinks I’m crazy but she is supportive. I’m going to start taking pre-reqs soon at a local school and will drop my masters down to only one class. Workload for my masters is pretty light, its mostly stuff I know, I’m only doing it for promotion/move up type of reasons. I was on the fence about knocking it out before starting pre-reqs but this will allow me to take more time with pre-reqs to ensure I get all A’s.

Given the timeframe between now and when I’d apply, I half think that my wife is giving me the go ahead because its so far away and seems like such a long shot(to her anyways) so I have a feeling we’ll have to site down and have a serious talk during applications and if/when an acceptance rolls in.

redo-it-all, I see you went to utsw. If you don’t mind, what were your stats like? (pm if you don’t feel comfortable publicly posting) I’m in DFW and will be applying statewide but would like to stay in dfw which basically leaves me with UTSW or UNTHSC(DO) possibly the MD UNTHSC… if it ever actually opens(hoping that its open by the time I apply). Based on posted stats, I’m low for UTSW and I assumed they wouldn’t be non-trad friendly(no basis for that, just assumed for some reason) so it’d be interesting to hear your background.

Again, thanks all for the support and the help!