My Doctor Reading List

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

3 Advantages to starting Med School later

I love reading doctors' and medical blogs and books, both fiction and nonfiction. I feel like it gives me a good insight into the good and the bad, the rewarding and the ugly sides of medicine.

One thing that I've definitely realized from reading these blogs is that even though I'm going down the med-school path a bit later than most, I feel like I have some advantages or at least, there are some benefits to doing medical school later. I never really thought about there being any positives to starting later - I always focused on the negatives (more responsibilities to attend to than just my studies, less time to get in, being older than my classmates and all that comes with being older in general...).

But I do have some advantages:

1. I'll be done having kids before I start medical school. I never really thought about this as a positive thing, but I've seen more than one mom doctor mention that having a kid during medical school is a terrible idea and having one during residency is very, very hard to manage and stressful. I believe that, because kids, and especially babies, require SO MUCH attention. That being said, I also understand that biologically and logistically, women only have a certain window of time to have children and that happens to fall during the med school/residency years and they can't afford to be picky. Not to mention that many students/residents aren't in serious relationships or married during this time, adding even more time and uncertainty to the process. And as someone who has suffered from multiple miscarriages and have seen friends suffer from infertility, I know that not everyone can depend of being able to plan exactly when to have their kids even if they are in a relationship and ready to have kids. So I feel lucky that I get to experience the joy of parenthood for sure because I'll already be a parent when starting and it's something I won't have to worry about missing out on. And bonus is that I got to stay home with them all, at least for the first year of their lives, and have that experience. I think that would be almost impossible to do in med school, residency or even as a full-fledged physician. I'm very grateful to have had that opportunity.

The flip side is that I'll have kids while in medical school that will need attention, but at least my youngest will be 7 years old by the time I'm in residency, which is when I'll be the most crunched for time. Hopefully if I am able to treat med school like a full time job, I'll be able to get away with being a med student during the traditional "work" hours and a mom during the traditional "home" hours - which wouldn't make life for my kids any different than if I were working as an accountant for a big firm.

2. I'm financially stable. I'm incredibly lucky to have a solid financial foundation. My family will be able to afford for me to not work for the entire time that I'm in medical school because a) my husband makes good money and has a good amount of work experience in his field under his belt (so we aren't living on the low starting salaries that many young couples do at the beginning), b) we have a bit of savings and equity already which I won't even have to drain to attend school and c) I discovered that I'll be able to qualify for the student loans for the entire time I'm in school, which will be another burden off my family's coffers and because I won't have to be paying off living expenses as well, the amount of debt at the end won't be crushing like for many traditional students who not only have med school debt, but also undergrad debt and the cost of living debt. I won't have to "post-pone" my life like many med students have to - when starting med school, I'll already have a house, car, family, travel...

Flip side is that I won't be making any money and in a sense, holding my family back. Luckily neither my husband or I are particularly materialistic, so it doesn't bug me if I have to drive a KIA when some of my other friends are driving Audis.

3. I'll have some decent amount of relevant life experience under my belt. I've lived on three continents, I've worked in a profession with responsibility, I've suffered miscarriages, I've had babies, I've experienced death and cancer in my family as an adult. I know that many traditional med students may have also had some of these experiences, but less likely to the same extent. I've been pooped on, vomited on and yelled at for messing up. I've had to deal with bad or worrying news myself. I've had to support myself and have learned how to multi-task (though this is something I can definitely improve on!). Its made me more understanding and less judgemental. This may not necessarily make me a better med student in a classroom setting but I think it will in a patient setting.

Flip side is that I've realized that medical school and becoming a doctor isn't the be-all and end-all of life and that may take away some of that drive and determination to succeed. But I guess time will tell!

So I'm glad that there are some positives to this path. But anyway, must get back to studying :)


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

So it begins again

Right now I'm sitting in the library of the university that I am taking a Chemistry course.

Its so cool to be a student again and I'm glad that the things I'm learning are starting to click. And its nice to see that I'm not nearly the oldest student in the class - there is a woman in my class that has to be in her 40s and even brings her kid along to class!

 I'm also so excited to officially be on the medical school path again. The desire to become a doctor has not gone away.

My goal with this course is to get as close to 100% as possible. I only have this one course and I'm determined to prove to the admissions board that I have the academic potential to do well in the medical course. And if I get a least one class credited, then my work load will be that much easier in the first year (when I would need to do the first year Health Sciences courses required by all students).

And I've set myself up for success.

My oldest son is in school (poor kid - we left Canada just as school was finishing up for the summer only to enrol him in school mid-year in New Zealand!). Luckily, he loves it (he is actually on a two-week school holiday).

My toddler has been enrolled in daycare full time. I felt a bit guilty about this but even if I hadn't been taking this course, both my hubby and I feel that its good for him to learn that independence and the social skills that come with attending daycare. And he's been doing very well (apart from some crying at drop off, the teachers tell me that he calms down very quickly and is awesome until we pick him up).

My course is 4 days a week, which is a bit of a bummer because the commute is an hour away from where I'm living some days I only have class for an hour. On Wednesdays though, I have a lecture at 11AM and then a tutorial at 5PM and even though attendance at either is not mandatory, I plan on attending every single one. However, this is the day that I plan to get a lot of my studying done since I have that huge gap of time to kill and will have no excuses being on campus and with access to the library etc.

Next I need to find some sort of volunteering opportunity. Fridays I have no classes or labs, so this will be the perfect time.