Work vs. School

I think I’ve pretty much decided which way to go with this, but wanted to put it out there to see how the others OPM saw this.
As some may know I’ve been working as a Systems Analyst for 7.5 years. I’ve been very unhappy with the work for years but mostly due to fear I didn’t start my postbacc program until this January. When I originally started I meant to go part-time the whole way through and thus give myself more time to really think about whether I wanted to go to med school or not. As the months have passed, I’m finding myself more into school and even less enthused about work. In fact, ever since I got back from vacation in August I’m finding work to be utter torture. Every day is harder than the previous.
This, plus the enjoyment I was getting from class, led me to decide that I wanted to do as my advisor was suggesting and go to school full-time next school year (9/05 - 5/06). Originally I hadn’t wanted to do that due to indecision, but I figured that the courses wouldn’t hurt even if I later decided to do just straight science instead of medicine. And so I had it all planned out: I’d quit this dreadful job in June, do a summer research program, and then start school full-time next September. I’d take my MCAT April 2006. Then I’d take two lag years instead of one so that I could start my family. I was thinking that giving each aspect its own year would be best in the long run (one full-time school year, the next year to focus on family, then the year after that on applications).
Earlier this month I decided to start volunteering and signed up to be a Spanish interpreter at a local hospital. We had two all-day intensive training sessions. It was overwhelming but I was really excited about the opportunity because I would actually get to do something useful (as opposed to just standing around). I’d get to interact both with doctors and patients. It seemed like an ideal position where I’d get the exposure I needed to help me make my decision.
Much to my surprise the trainer called me last Friday to offer me a full-time paid job as an interpreter! She said she had been impressed with me during the training. Needless to say I was flabbergasted. It sounded like the answer to all my prayers seeing that I want to get out of here so desperately! I spent a wonderful weekend thinking how soon I’d no longer be coming to this job and would be commuting into the City instead. I’d be a block away from school. I’d work part-time next year to accomodate my courses, etc.
Well, yesterday I went in to speak with her and things are not quite as rosy as they seemed. I already knew the pay was going to be half of what I make now and I was ok with that. The bad thing is that she said there is no flexibility in terms of hours. For whatever reason I had been assuming that she would be ultra flexible (since she knows I’m pre-med) and would let me drop down to part-time so that I can do my full-time school year. Oh well. Then she also mentioned that there is a clerical aspect to it. There are some statistical reports that need to be done under very strict deadlines. I wasn’t too thrilled with that either. I wanted to be working directly with the doctors and patients all the time instead. Lastly, I made the mistake of mentioning to the other lady at the office my tentative plans for starting a family before entering medical school. Her attitude towards me immediately changed and she began to tell me all the horrors and rigors of medical training. She also mentioned that in her 35 years at the hospital she had never met anyone who had handled both motherhood and medical training. I left from there feeling a bit hurt and discouraged. And I had a test in 2 hours! Thankfully I thought of all the inspiring people I’ve met here who are doing just what she said is impossible. I told myself to just focus on the science and the learning, which I am loving, and was able to brush up on some stuff and take my test.
Soooo. I have to call her tomorrow to let her know whether or not I’m taking the job. After thinking about it a lot last night I don’t think I will. School is my number one priority. I spent all day at school yesterday studying and it was awesome! I had doubted whether I could handle being a full-time student again but I actually think I would relish it. I want to give myself the opportunity to participate in a summer research program and to be able to be a full-time student for just one year without having to worry about work or children. If I were to take this job, sure I’d get good exposure, but I’d have to delay my school plans. The thought of being in school only part-time for another year is dreadful. Besides, it’s not like I won’t be doing interpreting at all. I would still just do it as a volunteer on Saturdays like I had originally planned.
What do you think? Am I right in making school my top priority and wanting to do Orgo/Bio/Lab/MCATs while not working and as soon as possible? Or is the exposure I’d get from that position possibly more valuable? For parents out there does my plan seem to be on the right track or I deluding myself into thinking I can handle med school and a family?
Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.

I think it is almost always a mistake to take a job if you have a bad feeling about it. It’s that simple. The time before you start is kind of the honeymoon period, where you and your boss are about as nice to each other as you’re ever going to be. I think you’re doing the right thing.

This is definitely not the job for you. If you are going to switch jobs, take a huge pay cut, etc. etc. then it ought to be the ideal position, the one that you fantasized about with flexible work hours, lots of patient contact, etc. etc. It is flattering to be considered for a position but if it isn’t the one you want, don’t do it!
As far as the discouraging remarks go, just brush them off and pay no attention. I know that’s hard to do but what does this person know about you? Consider the source and move on.
You are recognizing something very valuable about being a volunteer: at least in the ideal world, a volunteer can set his/her own terms for working. After all, what can they do, fire you? Hopefully you can still get the volunteer translating gigs that excited you so much, without the hassle and headaches of the baggage that was linked to it as a paying position.
My .02.

Not only that but this affirms for you a skill that you already have–bilingualism (or tri–?)–that is going to be very helpful to you. The fact is that with that skill alone–but also with all the other skills you have–you will have all kinds of opportunities, volunteer and paid. I think quitting work and focusing on school is a great idea; if you want to keep working, you have a skill that will give you the ability to do something really interesting. (For instance, many many clinical research studies in NYC will be interested in hiring truly bilingual people. Desperately interested, as a matter of fact.)



I would have to concur with Mary. Your gonna move from one unhappy place to another with less money and negative support.
I wonder though if one hospital would hire you, that you may want to look at others. So many places, hospitals, clinics, public health, private clinics, etc, need a good translator that you be able to find a similar position in a more accepting environment.

As far as the negative comments/support goes, I’ve found that truely negative expressions usually tell you more about the speaker than they do the sitation he or she is addressing.