Would LOVE to hear from some MOMS who've been there...

Good evening, all! I am so early in my pre-med journey… just beginning to re-take some prereqs in the spring and headed towards taking the MCAT in spring of 2012 for the 2013 admission into med school.

I give you the background to say this: For the next 3 years(ish), not much will change with my family’s status quo. I’m just picking up some hours each semester. But if I get into med school, everything changes. We have a 3 year old daughter (who’s watching Sleeping Beauty by my side as I type)… she’ll be heading to 1st grade when I hope to start med school. And we are trying to have another child–crossing our fingers to get pregnant by the end of the year. That child (God willing) would be 2 when I start school.

In fall of 2013, I’d have a loving, supportive husband, a 6 year old daughter, and hopefully a 2 year old son or daughter… and my whole world will change. Our support system is here in Nashville–my parents just moved here to be near the grandkids, and they are willing to have us move in with them and live for free while I’m in school. My husband is a charter pilot and flight instructor, so his schedule complicates things, as it has him away from home some evenings. My parents will have to take hugely active roles in raising our kids, and they are more than willing to do so. But it means my husband and kids have to stay in Nashville…where the support is. Even if I don’t.

I truly feel called to the pursuit of medicine. More than anything, the regret of not following the path has haunted me since college. (I’m 33 now.) But the only med school in Nashville is Vanderbilt, and it’s EXTREMELY competitive. (It’s a blessing and a curse that the only local medical school program is such a dang good one…I’ll apply, for sure, but I’m already preparing myself for the thought of having to move for awhile.) I feel reasonably certain that I can get into UT-Memphis, but that will mean moving to Memphis (withOUT my family) for at least the first 2 years (4 hours away from them) and then finishing at the Chattanooga campus (1.5 hours away from them…)

I’ve read enough to know that those first 2 years are grueling and busy. At best, I will see my family once a week. For 2 years. Once I move to the Chattanooga campus, we won’t be as far apart and can move to 2 or 3 x a week… but still… and yes, there are multiple opportunities for residencies within 1-2 hours of Nashville and in Nashville itself, but let’s focus on school first… LOL

Moms out there… have any of you had to live away from your family for parts of your education? How do you make this work? How do you reconcile why ‘mommy is gone’ with your younger children? My husband says, “Don’t worry about us… go get your dream. We’ll make it work. We have your parents. We have each other. We’ll be fine.” But ladies? I’m the MOMMY. They are my babies. We’re supposed to put them above anything else… and the thought of not tucking this little girl in every night is tearing at my heart. But so is not following my heart to medicine… but at what cost??

I guess I’m just looking for some women who share my heart to reach out to and just hear from you about how you deal with this… I know it can be done. I know children are so resiliant, and with a strong support system anything is possible… but how do you focus on school when your heart is 4 hours away?

Sorry for the length. I’m just beginning to think through the logistics of my path, and my kids are the part that has me the most paralyzed. I’d love to hear your stories…

Have a beautiful evening!

Carrie Liz,

I am not a mom, and I am not in medical school. Furthermore, while my intent is to encourage you, what I write may not seem that way. So feel free to skip my thoughts if you find them irrelevant or discouraging.

Did you ever see the 1987 movie Baby Boom, with Diane Keaton? In it, Keaton’s character, J. C. Wiatt, is an upwardly mobile, ambitious manager who finds herself saddled with an adoptive baby girl she didn’t know anything about and didn’t want. The movie is the rather predictable story of how she copes with unwanted parenthood, the breakup of her relationship with her boyfriend, and the demands of work. While the film is not high theater, it has its moments. In the movie, she laments how her male coworkers can “have it all” because they have wives at home that take care of things for them. Toward the end of the movie, her boss, exasperated with her problems and the trouble they are causing, yells at her, “No one can have it all, JC! I haven’t talked to my wife in ten years, and my son barely recognizes me!” (Or something like that.)

I thought this was the truest, profoundest moment in an otherwise silly movie. We have 24 hours per day. That is all. There are a great many worthy things we can do with our time, and far more unworthy things. We get to choose how we apply ourselves. You can do anything you want – but you cannot do everything you want. Do you want to stay home and raise the kids? I can think of no worthier, nobler goal – but don’t think it comes for free. My wife abandoned her PhD studies and her flegling career as a university professor to raise and homeschool our children. On the whole, I think we are both satisfied with that choice, but do not imagine for a moment that the professorial career that never was doesn’t haunt us at times, or the large amount of money we never made with only one income (and the resulting lower standard of living, used cars, second-hand clothes, and other lifestyle choices that come with lots of kids and only one income). My wife sacrificed something good for something she believed was better.

Whatever you choose, there is an opportunity cost. You can still be a devoted wife and loving mommy as a medical school student, but don’t deceive yourself that you will spend eight hours a day with the kids. Often, you will be fortunate to spend eight hours a week with them. They will grow up while you’re studying. They will deal with life situations, often without you. It will be a large sacrifice for your husband and your children. There is simply no way around that.

Now, is it worth it? That is a question only you and your husband can answer. I do believe that there is a correct answer, but I seriously doubt anyone here can find it for you. Think carefully, make your decision, and then don’t waste time with regrets (that you weren’t there for Suzie’s first steps and Billy’s school play, or that you surrendered your lovely dream of being a doctor for the mundane reality of parenthood). ALL jobs are mundane at times; ALL lifestyle choices have their painful elements. Make your decision, be strong-minded, and move forward. Two years down the line, if you become convinced you decided badly, make a course correction.

So there’s my view, for whatever it’s worth to you. Take it or leave it.

I would have to disagree

Dear carrieliz:

I want to encourage you to follow your dream, this is a forum for non-trad after all. I am currently in the process of applying to medical school. I was up until, 2 months ago a single mother of two (my five yr old son and two yr old baby girl). I completed a B.A. and MPH as a single mother and I am hoping to get accepted into a DO( which is my first choice) or an MD school, this application cycle. I would encourage you to get used to a schedule and become very organized, if you are not already, because I feel it will be very important to your success. I wish you the best of luck mom-to-mom.

  • rojo Said:
Dear carrieliz:

I want to encourage you to follow your dream, this is a forum for non-trad after all. I am currently in the process of applying to medical school. I was up until, 2 months ago a single mother of two (my five yr old son and two yr old baby girl). I completed a B.A. and MPH as a single mother and I am hoping to get accepted into a DO( which is my first choice) or an MD school, this application cycle. I would encourage you to get used to a schedule and become very organized, if you are not already, because I feel it will be very important to your success. I wish you the best of luck mom-to-mom.

Well said Rojo, and congrats on what you're accomplished so far!!!

I second what Rojo says, the key is to be VERY well organized, get yourself on a schedule ASAP and stick to it!

Good luck!

PS- There are 2 med schools in Nashville, Vandy and Meharry.

Hi, Carrieliz!

I am a mommy who is currently applying to med school. I went back to school, starting my post-bacc, when my son was 3 months old. I went to school at night while my husband worked during the day. It wasn’t easy to balance school work and motherhood, but I did it successfully. Most importantly, my husband was forced to be a parent without me around 4 nights/week. This ended up being absolutely fantastic because he became a confident and capable father who has his own way of doing things that sometimes works better than the way I do things. Like you, we knew we wanted a second child. I finished my last semester of O Chem while pregnant, and took the MCAT when I was 8.5 months pregnant. My daughter was born three weeks later. By time I got my scores, I was already out of the hospital and home with my newborn. I applied to numerous schools, but heavily DO. I’ve been accepted to 3 different schools. So, it is possible to be successful and balance motherhood, marriage, and student life.

Fortunately, my husband’s career is fairly portable and he will be going with me. You have a long way to go yet and a lot of time to pass. You don’t know what the future holds. It is entirely possible that something will come along that can help make this situation simpler. There may be a solution for you. Also, you can also check out Lincoln Memorial University - DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harrogate, TN. I believe that they offer clinical rotations in Nashville, which would mean that you would only spend 2 years away from your family. Until then, you should take a deep breath and believe that you will figure all of this out. There’s no point in stressing about decisions that aren’t yet on the table. Vanderbilt may be competitive, but what’s to say you won’t be competitive too? What’s to say that some other opportunity may come your husband’s way that will make things easier for your family to be together more often? You just never know what may happen that will push you and your dream in the right direction.

In my case, I was amazed by how many doors opened for me on this path as I went along. Granted, I certainly worked hard and made things happen, but it always seemed like I was floating downstream. You just never know what the future holds. Stay positive, work hard, and be willing to look at all of your options.

Also not a mom, but thought I would offer this.

If this whole process has taught me one thing, it is to not look too far into the future. If you are worrying about having to move 2 hours away from family 3 years from now, how can you stay focused on passing that OChem test today. I know it is hard to do but sometimes it is just best to work on the path right in front of you and let God or fate (whatever your persuasion) work out the downstream.

My wife and I are trying to have a baby right now, and we want me to go to Med-School, and we want her to be a stay at home mom. Now all of those are things I could expend a ton of mental energy on right now, but the truth is it won’t matter if I don’t pass the next OChem test, or we might not even get pregnant. I know it is hard to let go of all of the planning (by planning I mean that whole what is your 5yr plan crap) that “life” requires but if there is one thing the last 2 years of this gosh awful economy has taught me, it is that worrying that far into the future is of little value. Two years ago I lost my job, and was worried about keeping our house in Phoenix and putting food on the table. Since then my wife lost her job, our house was foreclosed, we bounced from Pensacola, Fl to Louisville, KY. We downsized about 1000sq ft and half our cost of living and I am trying to get into med-school at 33 and become a first time father. What absolutely cracks me up is that my wife and I have never been happier. Hope this meandering diatribe helps.

Hello, I am a 32 year old mother of a 5 year old who is also dealing with the similar dilemma…I do understand how much parent support means for you: my mother moved in with us for two years when we lived abroad while I was working. I love my mom and we have great relationship but I have learned two things: first, it’s difficult to live with your parents, no matter how big the house is, no matter how much they help with kids ( and my mom did everything…)etc. secondly, my daughter still needs my attention and love in any form, (although she adores her grandma)…Again, this is just my opinion, but I have decided that I will apply to schools where I would drive no longer than one hour ( I am in Austin and there’s no med school in town)but at least be able to preserve the opportunity to put my daughter to bed on most of the nights and have breakfast with her.I did have a choice of staying home but chose to work the first two years of my daughters life. Although I did love my job, I personally regret not staying with her and being fully present at least for the first years of her life( in most cases, it’s easier to get career back but not the time you missed spending with your kids…again, it’s just me…)

My mom lives in Russia( my homeland) and I no longer have her support. My husband travels two weeks per month. I know it will be tough and there will be a lot of juggling around with the babysitters for school pick ups and sicknesses, but I am comfortable with this decision. It might be costly financially but it’s all about priorities and the concrete situation you are in…I don’t mean to be too intrusive and impose any of my choices on you but maybe you will find my experience somewhat useful in whatever decision you are going to make.

Sometimes, when a decision is to hard to come by, why not try simplify your options by maybe sacrificing in one aspect by gaining in another : for example, apply to a good school in town/state where the cost of leaving is cheaper and you could afford rent(if your husband’s job is portable) but where you can see your kids more often, but you will no longer have your constant parents’ support( except holidays and exams …Good luck on all your journey. I apologize in advance for my non-so-perfect English( especially after I got 4 hours of sleep last night studying for my Bio exam) and maybe lengthy account of the personal opinion but hope it helps?


i am sending you a message with my contact info…please feel free to contact me at any time

i can speak from the trenches, it can be done