Older medicine applicant Watch

JLM1
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#1
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Hello,

I'm in desperate need of some personal accounts of studying undergrad medicine as a postgrad. I've spent the last two years since graduating from my humanities degree for-filling all the requirements for postgrad medicine and successfully gained an offer from a UK uni. However, I've also spent the past two years working as an Auxiliary nurse and I'm now starting to doubt if medicine is really what I want to do. All the bad press doctors get about long hours, increasing pressure, stressful jobs is really putting a damper on my initial excitement about finally getting to study medicine.

Anyone out there who can tell me that all the hard work that I've already done and will spend the next 5 years doing is going to be worth it? I really want to get into humanitarian work and pre-hospital medicine, I love all the medical knowledge I've picked up over the past few years and applying it to situations at work and know that I want to work in healthcare in some capacity. However, I think I could also do a master in Global Health and get into the analytical and statistical side of it too.

Also worried about the fact I'll be 31 and an FY1. I feel silly worrying about when to have children whilst i'm still relatively young, and know that plenty of women have children in their late 30s these days, but it's a thought that been on my mind a lot. Is it actually feasible to achieve a good enough work life balance so soon out of med school that I could realistically afford (career and time wise) to have children by 35?

Just looking for someone who maybe had similar doubts before starting and could pass on any wise info or tips they might have.

Cheers.
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sojune
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Hey there,

can't really help you with your question directly, but just wanted to let you know I am in the same boat and have similar doubts!
I am 27 now and should I get a place for 2020 entry will be 32 or even 33 by the time I'll be an FY1.

Like yourself, I have been wanting to have children relatively early (i.e. not late 30s) - and taking up medicine as a second career doesn't really "fit" that plan.
It feels like I'm second guessing my choice to study medicine every time I read something bad about the NHS or when something really exciting is happening at my current work place. I have a good job and could easily build my life around that.

But I don't want to.

Start to look at your life as a whole and not just the years until you become an FY1 or until you (can) have your first child. Where do you want to be in 15/20 years' time? Do you see yourself as a mum? What about your job? Could you see yourself working in your current field or would you always wonder "what if"? You'll have at least another 25 years as a doctor should you go to medical school now!
For reference, I gave up on getting into medicine years ago - started a different career and convinced myself that this was good enough. But I avoided all things medicine like the plague simply because I just couldn't get it out of my system. Fast forward to now and I still have my doubts about even applying. But in the end, medicine (and all its possibilities after you graduate) are worth it to me.

You can make it work. Plan ahead, get your financials sorted and be okay with the fact that it may take you a little longer than someone in their late teens/early 20s. There are plenty of medics starting a family during med school or even taking an FY3!

But I know where you're coming from and sometimes reading all that bad press about the NHS can really drag you down.
What keeps me going is that you have the option to work LTFT (less than full time) during your specialty training - it might take you longer to become a consultant (if that's what you want to do), but you have more time for your family. I'd much rather have a career that allows me to work part-time, but still gives me a fairly decent salary.


Hope you can make a decision that you'll be happy with in the long run. Having regrets about your career and feeling like your age is holding you back really isn't fun!
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nexttime
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(Original post by JLM1)
All the bad press doctors get about long hours, increasing pressure, stressful jobs is really putting a damper on my initial excitement about finally getting to study medicine.
The hours are long - certainly longer than nursing - but that's hardly unique to medicine. You don't think you'd be working 48+ hour weeks as an academic epidemiologist, or whatever it is your alternative is? And working in disaster relief/humanitarian work isn't exactly the easiest route to be going down if hours are your concern!

It can be stressful but its down to the individual how they manage that. How have you observed doctors coping so far?

I really want to get into humanitarian work and pre-hospital medicine...However, I think I could also do a master in Global Health and get into the analytical and statistical side of it too.
Awesome choice. My only observation... when a pre-med student or med student talks about career choice they talk about being fascinated by the brain, or wanting to save lives in disaster zones or whatever - its the principles. When a doctor talks about career choice, its about how many antisocial hours, how much theatre time, how many clinics - the practical side becomes most important. Your two options there - pre-hospital medicine and disaster relief, versus sitting in an office doing public health... the practical side could not be more different. Have a think about what you want.

Also worried about the fact I'll be 31 and an FY1.
There are plenty of students that start late - don't worry about this.

I feel silly worrying about when to have children whilst i'm still relatively young, and know that plenty of women have children in their late 30s these days
Maybe - its definitely not a good idea though! Putting aside Down's risk, in order for a UK woman to have a 90% chance of having one child without IVF they need to start trying by 32. For two kids, that figure is 27.

but it's a thought that been on my mind a lot. Is it actually feasible to achieve a good enough work life balance so soon out of med school that I could realistically afford (career and time wise) to have children by 35?
Affordability is the issue here I suppose. Time-wise - having a child in med school or FY1 is fine. It'd be hard for sure, but in the grand scheme of things having a child is a much more major life event than mild-moderate career disruption - that takes priority. Financial affordability... obviously no income as a med student unless you also work, and even after starting FY1, you won't be eligible for NHS mat pay until you have 1 year's continuous NHS service.

Difficult decisions! All I would finally add is that just because you've committed a lot of effort so far, that still doesn't affect the objective choice to be made now. If you spent two years determining that medicine isn't for you, that is time well spent. Just make the best choice for you.
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jzdzm
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I can't give any insight on the child problem (I've never wanted children - I thought that might change when my friends and siblings started having them, but it didn't), but I can tell you my thoughts on age.

I first considered studying medicine when I was about 25. I didn't know that GEM existed and didn't really look into it as I assumed I was too old, also didn't really want to go back to studying at the time, and didn't want to settle in one country. I'm now 34 and an offer holder.

Now, I'm looking for more stability, I don't want to move around the world anymore, I love studying and want to be learning for the rest of my life. I'm not ambitious and I don't care if I never become a consultant. Like sojune I would like to work LTFT in the future, and I will probably take an FY3 (and maybe 4, or more) even if it means I'm 45+ by the time I start speciality training.

However, I don't regret those 9-ish years in between in the slightest because I have had many experiences that I wouldn't have had. I've got to know myself better, and I'm a stronger person because of it. I've also had a pretty good stint in an alternative career. When I was mid-20s I felt like I needed to be getting on in life, that I should know where I wanted to go and work towards getting there. Now I'd like to live life, and studying for me is part of that. Yes, foundation years will be harder because of my age (I definitely go to bed earlier naturally than I used to, I think I'm going to struggle with night shifts!) but my coping mechanisms are much stronger, and I think I am better equipped to find the good in difficult situations because of those years of life experience.

So if you're having serious doubts, why not wait? Do the masters in Global Health anyway? Even have a child / children in the next few years (if you're in a position to do so) and apply again afterwards?

On the other hand, if this is just a bout of pre-start of term nerves then I think everyone has that. I definitely have regular 'omg am I doing the right thing' moments, but they tend to be based more around leaving my current work / finance than doubts about wanting to study medicine in the first place.
(Original post by JLM1)
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JLM1
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#5
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(Original post by sojune)
Hey there,

can't really help you with your question directly, but just wanted to let you know I am in the same boat and have similar doubts!
I am 27 now and should I get a place for 2020 entry will be 32 or even 33 by the time I'll be an FY1.

Like yourself, I have been wanting to have children relatively early (i.e. not late 30s) - and taking up medicine as a second career doesn't really "fit" that plan.
It feels like I'm second guessing my choice to study medicine every time I read something bad about the NHS or when something really exciting is happening at my current work place. I have a good job and could easily build my life around that.

But I don't want to.

Start to look at your life as a whole and not just the years until you become an FY1 or until you (can) have your first child. Where do you want to be in 15/20 years' time? Do you see yourself as a mum? What about your job? Could you see yourself working in your current field or would you always wonder "what if"? You'll have at least another 25 years as a doctor should you go to medical school now!
For reference, I gave up on getting into medicine years ago - started a different career and convinced myself that this was good enough. But I avoided all things medicine like the plague simply because I just couldn't get it out of my system. Fast forward to now and I still have my doubts about even applying. But in the end, medicine (and all its possibilities after you graduate) are worth it to me.

You can make it work. Plan ahead, get your financials sorted and be okay with the fact that it may take you a little longer than someone in their late teens/early 20s. There are plenty of medics starting a family during med school or even taking an FY3!

But I know where you're coming from and sometimes reading all that bad press about the NHS can really drag you down.
What keeps me going is that you have the option to work LTFT (less than full time) during your specialty training - it might take you longer to become a consultant (if that's what you want to do), but you have more time for your family. I'd much rather have a career that allows me to work part-time, but still gives me a fairly decent salary.


Hope you can make a decision that you'll be happy with in the long run. Having regrets about your career and feeling like your age is holding you back really isn't fun!
Hey,

Thanks for this. Even hearing that someone else has the same doubts is reassuring.

All the things you said are things I've told myself all the way through applying, I don't know why these things have just started to get the better of me, maybe its just pre-start nerves!

If it's any help, theres currently a pregnant FY2 working on one of my regular wards. If she can do it maybe we can too!
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JLM1
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#6
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(Original post by nexttime)
The hours are long - certainly longer than nursing - but that's hardly unique to medicine. You don't think you'd be working 48+ hour weeks as an academic epidemiologist, or whatever it is your alternative is? And working in disaster relief/humanitarian work isn't exactly the easiest route to be going down if hours are your concern!

It can be stressful but its down to the individual how they manage that. How have you observed doctors coping so far?



Awesome choice. My only observation... when a pre-med student or med student talks about career choice they talk about being fascinated by the brain, or wanting to save lives in disaster zones or whatever - its the principles. When a doctor talks about career choice, its about how many antisocial hours, how much theatre time, how many clinics - the practical side becomes most important. Your two options there - pre-hospital medicine and disaster relief, versus sitting in an office doing public health... the practical side could not be more different. Have a think about what you want.



There are plenty of students that start late - don't worry about this.



Maybe - its definitely not a good idea though! Putting aside Down's risk, in order for a UK woman to have a 90% chance of having one child without IVF they need to start trying by 32. For two kids, that figure is 27.



Affordability is the issue here I suppose. Time-wise - having a child in med school or FY1 is fine. It'd be hard for sure, but in the grand scheme of things having a child is a much more major life event than mild-moderate career disruption - that takes priority. Financial affordability... obviously no income as a med student unless you also work, and even after starting FY1, you won't be eligible for NHS mat pay until you have 1 year's continuous NHS service.

Difficult decisions! All I would finally add is that just because you've committed a lot of effort so far, that still doesn't affect the objective choice to be made now. If you spent two years determining that medicine isn't for you, that is time well spent. Just make the best choice for you.
Hey,

All very valid and useful points, thank you. (Except you have put the fear in me about the IVF statistic haha).
And I like the way you posed the question about the practical side. I have no desire to sit in an office at all. I think whats appealing is the intellect that would be required for the data side of it. My current job is very intellectually dry, I think i'm just craving a need to actually use my brain and its clouding my judgement.

Thanks for your input, I appreciate the time you took to write all this out for me!
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JLM1
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#7
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(Original post by jzdzm)
I can't give any insight on the child problem (I've never wanted children - I thought that might change when my friends and siblings started having them, but it didn't), but I can tell you my thoughts on age.

I first considered studying medicine when I was about 25. I didn't know that GEM existed and didn't really look into it as I assumed I was too old, also didn't really want to go back to studying at the time, and didn't want to settle in one country. I'm now 34 and an offer holder.

Now, I'm looking for more stability, I don't want to move around the world anymore, I love studying and want to be learning for the rest of my life. I'm not ambitious and I don't care if I never become a consultant. Like sojune I would like to work LTFT in the future, and I will probably take an FY3 (and maybe 4, or more) even if it means I'm 45+ by the time I start speciality training.

However, I don't regret those 9-ish years in between in the slightest because I have had many experiences that I wouldn't have had. I've got to know myself better, and I'm a stronger person because of it. I've also had a pretty good stint in an alternative career. When I was mid-20s I felt like I needed to be getting on in life, that I should know where I wanted to go and work towards getting there. Now I'd like to live life, and studying for me is part of that. Yes, foundation years will be harder because of my age (I definitely go to bed earlier naturally than I used to, I think I'm going to struggle with night shifts!) but my coping mechanisms are much stronger, and I think I am better equipped to find the good in difficult situations because of those years of life experience.

So if you're having serious doubts, why not wait? Do the masters in Global Health anyway? Even have a child / children in the next few years (if you're in a position to do so) and apply again afterwards?

On the other hand, if this is just a bout of pre-start of term nerves then I think everyone has that. I definitely have regular 'omg am I doing the right thing' moments, but they tend to be based more around leaving my current work / finance than doubts about wanting to study medicine in the first place.
Hey,

Reading this, I think it is just pre-start nerves.

I can agree with all the points you've made as to why you want to study medicine, and as to why you're okay with starting later. I think bringing good knowledge and life experience makes you a better doctor, being older isn't of any detriment to the profession when starting out!

I'm not sure if my doubts are serious, just small ones getting the better of me!

Thanks for your input!
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