Medical School Mom: Balancing Family and School

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Session 61

Medical School Mom: Priotizing Family, School, and More

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

Having started medical school at 35 years old, as a mom of three children, Rebekah had to juggle these several parts of her life. We can all glean lessons from her, particularly on how to set priorities and put aside things that are not really important to you. The passion she exudes both for her family and for becoming a physician will truly inspire you.

Highlights of the conversation with Rebekah:

Rebekah’s path to medical school:

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

The importance of shadowing:

  • To know what it’s like being a physician
  • To step away if it’s not what you thought it was or what you wanted

[Related post: How Should I Prepare for My First Shadowing Experience?]

Balancing being a nontraditional medical student and a mother:

  • Starting a family at a very early age
  • Going through a Master’s program
  • Knowing that it’s really what you want 100%
  • Getting support from her husband
  • Preparing meals for her family
  • Teamwork as a 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 number one in the class as long as she’s there for her family

[Related episode: How Med Student Parents Make It Happen]

Prioritizing her time as a nontraditional premed:

  • Literally making use of every spare second of the day
  • Asking her professors about certain points in the lecture for clarification
  • Perusing her note packets to have an idea of the lecture beforehand
  • Making audio flashcards
  • Spending dinner with her family to maintain that sense of family
  • Having lunch with her daughter on weekends
  • Planning the week ahead and studying after the kids went to bed at night

Going through her application and the interview:

  • Getting put on the waitlist and not knowing if she’d be accepted into her Master’s
  • Incorporating the fact that she has a family into the medical school interview

[Related book: The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School 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. 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. Don’t let the process change you. Keep who you are.
You will hear people giving a ton of advice. Don't listen to them. You and only you know what study skills and organizational skills work for you.Click To Tweet

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