Here are some of the most commonly asked questions by readers. If I didn't answer something here, don't hesitate to send me an email. Thanks for reading!
Where are you from?
I was born in Detroit, Michigan, but when my dad finished medical school at Wayne State my family moved to Chicago where he began his residency in urology at UIC. After he finished residency, we moved again (by then I was 9) to a small town in northwest Indiana called LaPorte, and that is where I pretty much grew up...
How do you find the time to study?
In order to be the most productive, I have to leave the house. I tried the "study in the spare room with the door closed" thing, but there is a lot of knocking and "Mommy, can I come in pleaaaaase?" So when I know I have an exam coming up, the husband banishes me to campus, the neighborhood library, or a coffee shop. You really have to plan for the unexpected and try and get ahead of your studies well before the exam. When Natey was really little, he would spend the week before my exams with one of his grandmas so I didn't have to do anything but eat, sleep, and study. As much as it was hard to be away from him during those times, I knew he was with family who loved him as much as I did, and it was immensely helpful...
How did you get a scholarship for medical school?/How do you afford medical school with a family?
My scholarship was really an unexpected blessing. When my medical school chooses its newest class, everyone is considered a candidate for the school’s available scholarship pool. The namesake of my scholarship, Dr. George Rawls, is a retired faculty member and surgeon in Indianapolis who did a great deal to break down racial barriers in the city, in addition to encouraging the local youth to pursue the medical sciences. He is an awesome man and he and his wife are some of the sweetest people you would meet.
Unless you come from oodles of wealth, chances are you are going to have to take out loans for medical school. That being said, I still have to borrow my living expenses. Each school is different, and our financial aid is very helpful and transparent in explaining to students how much we are budgeted for the different components of daily living - housing, transportation, books, etc. For the parents, we are allowed additional loans for childcare with a weekly maximum per kid determined by their age. However, if you don't have to borrow money, by all means, DON'T!
I am a mom. I want to be a doctor. Should I go to medical school?
I think you should follow your heart. Do some prayer and soul searching, because I
do not recommend medical school to anyone who can see themselves being
fulfilled by anything else in life... That being said, you will not be happy in a job
that isn't your passion. My dad always told me that whether or not you
are doing what you love, the time will pass anyway so you would rather
spend it not having regrets.
When is the best time to have a baby in medical school?
I've known a few moms who have done it different ways and for my
school I think that second year on would be easier than first year
a child in medical school is probably harder or easier depending on the
structure of the program. I would try and ask for the contact information of student
parents already at your school so that you can get the real 411. This is
also contingent on how easy or hard pregnancy will be on your body. Will you
feel like coming in every day and being on the ball during clerkships? (MS3) Are your lectures
recorded so you can stay at home? (MS2) What year is anatomy lab - usually MS1 year -
so you can avoid formaldehyde exposure during pregnancy. Also, an extended support system is HUGE...
Who watches your kids?
When I was in my last year of undergrad at Michigan with my son, we were fortunate enough to live close to my grandma, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law who would help us with watching him while I was in class. When we moved to Indianapolis, we tried a nanny for a couple months but then he started daycare around 7 months. Today, my oldest is in school and we have hired a nanny to watch Isabelle and help with pick up and drop offs with Nate - before having our nanny, we used a lot of before and aftercare at my son's school.