(Original post by Lifeas16)
So I want to go travelling around the world when I’m older, I know I will need lots of money and I want to do medicine at uni so I can’t get a proper paying job until after then. Then I need to save money to go travelling which I can do while in uni but I also want to have children after I travel so I can’t go too late on in life as I want kids in my late 20s or early 30s. I am also not sure I will want to come back and go straight back into medicine and hospitals so I think maybe a different career path? Please give me advice...
Ok that's a lot of very complex questions. Here's a thorough answer! Text wall alert.
Early Years at uni
Med school is 5/6 years. At most places term length gets progressively longer but in the early years you get a LOT of holidays - should be >12 weeks in the summer maybe more. Ample opportunity for some low-cost travelling. Personally I managed 3 weeks hitch-hiking to and in Morocco, 6 weeks Thailand, 10 weeks Nepal, and 2 weeks inter-railing, all within the first 3 years. Time for trips up to 10 weeks long is not a problem.
Money might be, but there are ways to tackle that.
1) Keep costs down whilst abroad. All the trips above excepting perhaps inter-railing were dirt-cheap. Flights are big investments but once there if you stay in hostels, use local buses, eat local food the cost of living is tiny. This is heavily location dependent. For example places I have been since - South America and Tanzania - were actually really expensive if you went on the tourist trail. Climbing Kilimanjaro costs minimum $1000USD due to permits and mandatory guides. Climbing for an equivalent time in Nepal can cost less than a fifth of that, even with a guide!
A few of my trips were also aided by being charity-type trips, involving periods of Teaching English etc. Be careful what charity work you take on though - if you think going to Africa to build a school as someone with zero construction experience is somehow useful to anyone you are obviously wrong. Things like teaching English can be more valuable but be under no illusions: you are not a qualified teacher and in most cases they are just after your money.
2) Raise money. NGL some of my money did come from parents. They were willing to help me live life whilst I had long holidays and was able to, safe in the knowledge I could repay them later. However, I also got significant amounts of money from: a) holiday employment, especially available in the run up to Christmas. You can easily earn £2k for a low-skilled role in e.g. the post office b) part-time work whilst at med school. Can only be low hours and flexible due to workload but there are some roles that allow that. Some people HCA for instance. c) participating in research studies - from small survey roles paying £10 to vaccine trials paying £3k (which I did! Huge moral value too).
3) Keeping costs down whilst at home. Get the cheapest accommodation, be cheap on nights out, cook for yourself, etc.
Later years at uni
You will still have some decent holidays - this is quite uni dependent. However, holidays will be less, your ability to do part time work will be reduced, your maintenance loan decreases and your travel costs often significantly increase so it all gets harder.
The one exception is the Elective. This is a medical placement anywhere in the world. All unis have one but it varies between 6 weeks immediately before final exams, to 12 weeks after all of your exams are done. This could be a factor in choosing your med school if you wanted.
Again, where you go will heavily influence cost, but in some places and at some unis you will be able to get significant grants. I actually made a small profit off of going to Tanzania for 8 weeks. I also made use of people I know who live abroad to spend some time in the Caribbean - another good general tip.
As a doctor
Your hours will be very long and its hard to even get one week off in a row due to the chaotic rota on most rotations and general understaffing, which probably won't be any better by the time you qualify if we're honest. I would write off the first two years out of uni.
However, after that is a natural career pause and currently ~55% of people take a year's break (so called FY3 year), and rising. As you are pretty well paid for those two years, if you have been financially sensible you could have saved a lot of money. If you actually continue your student lifestyle I would argue saving £20k is easily possible. Perfect travel time and
you have money!
However this is where being old starts to set in. For me by now I had a wife who couldn't leave her job and leaving her for a year just wasn't an option I wanted to take. I did one month of hiking across Spain and two other trips and that was it. My enthusiasm for travelling was also waning by this point - we all get set in our ways and seeking out the unfamiliar is just that bit less appealing.
MSF itself is a huge and prestigious organisation and its actually hard to work for - you need a foreign language and plenty of experience etc.
There are other options though. The hospital I went to in Tanzania had a doctor working there on his FY3 year and he was undoubtedly making loads of difference. Was he having a good time? Hell no - that place had so many extremely sick people and he was working so hard to try to help them. But I think he got exactly what he wanted from the experience and I have huge respect for him for doing it - I bet he's such a better doctor now for doing it. I think he organised that by just contacting the hospital directly and offering to volunteer.
There are lots of different organisations which offer work abroad in exchange for free accommodation, food etc. Google.
I have seen this kind of thing work very well - my cousin actually somehow managed to get a high paying job in Australia then took the money and travelled for a year. I've seen this work very badly, with people having essentially no money left and feeling like they were essentially trapped doing this volunteer work with no other options.
Pregnancy and doctoring
I'm assuming you don't have your partner yet? Scheduling a baby is difficult at the best of times - 20% of couples have to try for more than a year before being successful - let alone so early!
Definitely best to aim for early though. Less health risks, and fertility drops off after 35, and drops away rapidly after 40. One study found
that if you want a 90% chance of having two children, you need to be starting trying to get pregnant at 27
. That's to factor for people who do take a long time to get pregnant.
You mentioned not wanting to go back to work straight away - you don't have to! A good side of medicine is a) the good maternity pay b) its actually quite easy to just take time out then go back later. Not too long, but a couple years is ok c) going part time is quite easy in most specialities. You could work 3 days per week then have 4 days with your kids for instance.
Remember that you want to have children when in work otherwise you don't get maternity pay. Common misconception.
That is all.