Dear Career Doctor:
I am twenty-four years old and a single mother of 3 girls. I have been attending a local community college, taking full-time pre-medicine courses because I want to major in Biology and then apply to medical school. My GPA is now a 3.5, but my advisor has been very discouraging, telling me I am already behind because I can’t take 18 to 19 hours of courses right now. I know I can’t take those many hours right now and I know when I transfer to a university I will have to take more hours. At that point I will accept the long stressful hours to fulfill my dream.
I am very determined to do what I want but my advisor has me feeling like I can’t. Do you think a single mom of 3 can get through med school, or should I consider another major that I may be less interested in?
If I ruled the world, I would make medical school free and I would have medical students work normal hours. However, I’m not in charge, so I must tell you the ugly truth: I don’t think that a single parent, father or mother with three children can be both an adequate parent and an adequate medical student. That’s because the hours required for internships and residency are absolutely inhumane. They hardly allow any time for sleep, much less parenting.
If you have parents who will essentially raise your children, it might be possible. If not, the cost of babysitting, plus the cost of medical school is another terrible burden that keeps many people from becoming physicians.
I would suggest that you explore other similar options that take far less time in terms of years in school and hours on the job, such as nurse, nurse practitioner or physicians assistant. You will get many of the same benefits but still have the time and energy to be a good parent.