Would I do this again? My mini mid-life crisis

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This was the question I was asked during a recent conversation with my egg donor daughter, who is struggling with the decision of what direction to focus on after college. If you are unfamiliar with the front end of the egg donor story, a previous post titled My Mothering Story, provides an explanation. She was considering medical school, but recent circumstances have made her think twice and then three times about this career choice. Her concerns include the debt she will accrue, sacrifices she will need to make in outside interests, family/life balance and many more. After our hour long skype chat, I spent the next week reflecting on “Would I do this again?” thoughts. Even more importantly, “Could I do this again?”.
Competition to enter medical school has become much more competitive than when I started. Putting your GPA and MCAT score (medical admission test) into a formulae determines what your odds are of getting selected. Life experiences get added in also (volunteer work, leadership roles, etc). I realized that if I filled out an application today, my file would not have made it past the first cut. The answer to the question, “Could I do this again?” is NO – I wouldn’t be able to do this again. Despite this, I think I am performing similar to my peers who scored higher than I did and had more life experiences. Current projections predict a shortage of primary care physicians now and in the future. Maybe we need to increase the class size in medical schools to meet this need and still grant admission to highly qualified applicants.
The answer to the question, “Would I do this again?” is much more complicated. The world was a much smaller place with fewer opportunities when I finished college in 1983. World travel was expensive and not easily accomplished. Volunteer opportunities were more difficult to find without the internet. Having fewer outside interests made it easier for me to focus on school, residency and work until my early 30’s. Then my focus changed to balancing career and children. Now that the children are becoming older, I am finally focusing more on my personal interests. But the interests I have today are probably not the interests I would have had if my career had taken a different path. Medical mission work would not have been a possibility. Travel requires a job that provides a good income and vacation time.
I don’t think that my friend’s experience is unique. Many young adults are faced with a myriad of choices as they are starting their life away from home and often find it overwhelming to have to make so many choices. When you add in a large monetary component (medical school tuition if $40-50,000 a year), the decision to dedicate your life to a profession becomes even more challenging.
The final answer is YES – I would do this again, even knowing ahead of time what the personal and economic sacrifices would be. Although this career closed some doors for me in my 20’s, it has opened many more doors for me that I would not have been able to walk thru without the initials MD after my name. I encouraged my friend to reconsider her decision about medical school and that any sacrifices are worth the end result.

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