Medical School Mom – Prioritizing Family, School and More

Session 61

Session 61

In today's episode, Ryan talks with Rebekah Costello, a current 4th year medical student at Midwestern University Chicago – College of Osteopathic Medicine. She also runs a blog at Today, she shares with us her medical school experience as nontraditional student who went through seven different higher education institutions before finally landing at the current school she's at.

Having started medical school at 35 years old and a mom of three children, find out how Rebekah practically juggled her life and glean lessons from her, particularly on how to set your priorities and put aside those that are not really important to you. Her passions for both her family and becoming a physician that exude from this interview will truly inspire you.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Rebekah:

Rebekah's path to her medical school journey:

  • Being pregnant with her son and going back to her undergrad studies
  • Pursuing her biology degree to be eligible to do genetic counselling
  • Shadowing a genetic counsellor and realizing the actual job was different from what she thought it to be
  • Wanting to be there more than just a 15-minute interaction with patients

The importance of shadowing:

  • To know what it's like being a physician
  • It's okay to step away if it's not what you thought it was or wanted

Her experiences of balancing being a nontraditional student and a mother:

  • Starting a family at a very early age
  • Going through the Master's program
  • Knowing that it's really what you want 100%
  • Getting support from her husband
  • Preparing meals for her family
  • Teamwork as the key!
  • Her 1st year of medical school as a very challenging phase – letting go of micromanagement
  • Having a good support network
  • Being okay with not being the number one in class as long as she's able to be there for her family

Prioritizing her time as a nontrad premed:

  • Literally making use of every spare second of his day
  • Asking her professors about certain points about the lecture for clarification
  • Perusing her note packets to have an idea of their lecture flow
  • Making audio flashcards
  • Making sure she is able to spend dinner with her family to maintain that sense of family
  • Having lunch with her daughter on the weekends
  • Planning the week ahead and studying after the kids went to bed at night
  • Family time was crucial, vital, and key but limiting the activities of her kids

Going through her application and the interview:

  • Getting put on the waitlist and her Master's being not a guaranteed acceptance
  • Integrating the fact that she has a family into the interview

Some pieces of advice for premed students:

  1. Don't let anybody tell you it can't be done.
  2. Let go of little things and micromanagement. Even if you don't do it, it will be okay.
  3. Family always comes first.
  4. You will hear people giving a ton of advice. Don't listen to them because you and only you know what study skills and organizational skills work for you.
  5. Be flexible and be willing to change because life happens.
  6. Don't lose sight of who you are. Do not let the process change you. Keep who you are.

Links and Other Resources:

Check out Rebekah's blog at

If you need any help with the medical school interview, go to Sign up and you will receive parts of the book so you can help shape the future of the book. This book will include over 500 questions that may be asked during interview day as well as real-life questions, answers, and feedback from all of the mock interviews Ryan has been doing with students.

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  • Rebekah Costello

    Thank you again for taking the time to talk to me – I hope this was helpful to some one out there 🙂 And I would be more than happy to do it again in the future if it did not go the direction you were hoping

    • Ha – it was exactly what I was hoping for! I’m sure many out there will learn from this! Thanks again for taking valuable time away from your studies and your family for doing this.

    • Ashlynn

      Mother of 3,16 years old,12 and 2 years old.
      I need help and advice,I am 33 years old,married with 3 kids.I moved in USA 2 years ago.In my back country I was a medical student in first year and it was for second time when I had to start my medical school from zero,I was a MD student in Turkey for 2 years before I start in my home country.Moving in USA I had to leave my studies in my home country,since I am here I am not doing nothing,I am just home watching my toddler,I was trying to think about something else,to do something else but I just can’t,MD was my dream since I was very young but unfortunately USA has Avery different system.I need to start a pre med college which can be Biology,Chemistry or health science I have no idea…I was so decided to go for BSN but I know somewhere in the middle of the road I will go for MD school.Is a long time since I finished my HIGH SChool and I don’t remember nothing about math,calculus,chemistry and all the science courses you take in high school.I am afraid if I choose something in science I won’t be able to make it but in same time I can’t give up.English is not my mother language and I am afraid I won’t be able to understand a lot of things.Please I need some advices,tips…how to make it to go through this rough path.A 4 years in college as a pre med student and another 4 years in med school…it scares me but I know if I don’t do it I will never be happy.Thank you🌹

  • premedDad

    This was a great podcast! I’m currently in the application cycle, but I’ll have similar circumstances (mid-30s, wife & 2 young kids) when I start school. Sounds like we share similar perspectives on things as well. I know that I won’t be able to devote the time to be #1 in my class, but that’s ok. I’d rather ensure that I’m able to spend time with my family during the process. Best of luck to you Rebekah as you make your way through residency.

    • Thanks for the comment! Would love to know where you’re planning on applying.

    • Rebekah costello

      Thank you for your kind words!
      If you need anything please feel free to contact me – I am always happy to help and give advice on how this all has worked 🙂
      many blessings to you on your future path

  • T. Bloomfield

    I really enjoyed your podcast! I too am a mother of three children 14, 8, and 5 and am planning on applying this next cycle. It is inspiring to know that there are others out there who’ve been accepted like me and that my dream is not impossible as so many tend to say. Congratulations on your achievement and good luck to you in the future and THANK YOU for taking the time to post!

    • Rebekah costello

      Best wishes to you in the upcoming application cycle!

      It is definitely not impossible which is why I wanted to do this for Ryan, to show it can be done.

  • Marie M.

    Hi Rebekah,

    Did you apply broadly including out of state or across the country? I want to apply broadly, but my husband wouldn’t be able to move with me if the only school I get accepted to far and would need a plane ride.

  • Rachel

    I know that this podcast is very old but it has been the only podcast where I can relate to speaker. I have yet to meet anyone with as similar life experiences as Dr. Costello. I am looking for a mentor of someone who can relate to me, so Dr. Costello, if you’re still out there, I’d appreciate any conversation we may have. Congratulations on reaching your goal!




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