What to Do When Your Dreams & Your Personal Life Are at Odds

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OPM 226: What to Do When Your Dreams & Your Personal Life Are at Odds

Session 226

You have a career, a family, and other responsibilities that seem to be at odds with your dreams of becoming a physician. What can you do?

Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum over at premedforums.com. Please go ahead and register for an account, ask your question, and have fun with the community.

Also, please be sure to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media as we try to bring you as many resources as you need on this journey.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:17] Question of the Week

“I am currently a senior at Texas Tech University studying Biology. I am in extreme need of advice and counseling. I will be graduating this December with probably around a 3.1-3.2 overall GPA and a roughly 3.0 science GPA. It has taken me 6+ years to complete undergrad due to having to work full-time jobs to pay the bills and struggling with debilitating anxiety and depression.

I got married halfway through college, which only took more time away from my studies. I cannot afford not to work. I have to support my wife and we have a baby on the way. They take precedent over everything because I HAVE to support my family. 

However, this has made it difficult to go to school and perform well. I am at the point now where I know I will need to complete some sort of Master’s program (if I can even get into one) or post-bac, in order to show that I can perform well in school and get good grades. And I will need masters in order to get a real job to support my family. 

Also, with having to work so much, I have no time to do extra-curricular activities. I was a scribe in the ER for two years, which was the best experience I have ever had. I learned so much about medicine and what it truly means to be a doctor, but that is the only “real” clinical experience I have. I am currently a medical equipment technician and work on testing medical devices (defibrillators, patient monitors, stretchers, EKG machines, etc.). I have had this job for about 8 years.

I HAVE to go to medical school and become a physician. It is a 100% HAVE TO and there are no other options for me. I cannot see myself being happy doing anything else. But I am stuck between a rock and a hard place with my track record of bad grades and length of time it has taken me to graduate. I am becoming increasingly worried that I will never be able to get into or do well in med school and I will be unhappy for the rest of my life.

Is there anyone out there with some advice as to what I can or should do right now to start turning this around. I feel like I need to completely start from scratch and I am so so worried that I have ruined all my chances of becoming a doctor just because I had to work and support myself and took a long time to graduate. On paper, I look like a horrible student. I am just worried that I will not be able to support my family and I will end up being unhappy if I don’t do everything I possibly can to try and get into medical school.

[02:54] Chad’s Story

This is a very common story that I hear from nontraditional students. Please check out The Premed Years episode 230, where I had Chad on the show. He is a fourth-year medical student now but he was initially rejected from the Caribbean.

In that conversation, Chad struggled with all of the same things. Chad had a wife and family, and he had to support them.

As Chad was going down this journey of wanting to become a physician, he was also struggling with putting all of his effort toward being a great student because he had to support his family. 

He went to BYU for undergrad, and then did a postbac and he didn’t do very well because he was still trying to support his family.

Finally, as a last-ditch effort, he finally figured out a way for his family to sustain themselves without him working all the time. He needed to go to school full time and prove to himself and to others that he is going to be an amazing medical student. And that’s what he did.

He went and completed an SMP. He got great grades, and he finally proved to himself and to others that he was smart enough to be a doctor. But he had to sacrifice a ton to get there.

[05:55] Should You Also Do What Chad Did?

It all depends on you as a person in your specific city. In your situation, with a wife and your first kid on the way, can you sell a house and move in with your parents? Can you stop paying rent and move in with your parents? Can your wife start working?

And if you’re in a situation or culture where the wife stays at home to take care of the kids, maybe that has to change. At least, this is going to be temporary. So that you can get to medical school to become a physician at the end of the day.

A popular Einstein quote is that “if you keep repeating the same mistakes or keep doing the same thing, expecting a different result, that’s insanity.”

Back to Chad’s story, he was doing the same thing over and over and over again, expecting a different result but still failing. Maybe he could have tried harder and studied harder. But work had to go.

“When it comes down to studying and doing well in school, along with the distraction of family and work, the job has to go a lot of the time.” Click To Tweet

[07:26] Have a Discussion with Your Loved Ones

So start from there. Sit down with your family and all of your loved ones. Tell them that you want to be a physician. You need to get into medical school so you’re not going to be able to work, even during medical school. You need to focus on your grades and your classes.

In this regard, what can you do as a family unit to help you live your dream? And if they’re not willing to help, then there’s a problem. Obviously, a lot more discussion has to happen.

You’d probably have to let go of your monthly subscription, gym membership, or whatnot. Or probably sell the house and rent or stay with your parents. You can do all of those things.

There are lots of things that you can do to figure out a way to support yourself and make sure that your family is taken care of as well. Unfortunately, a lot of students stop at the idea of having to support their family so they have to work and everything else has to fit into that.

[08:51] The Help that You Need

Basically, the whole question is based around the premise that you’re not doing well with what you’re doing so you need help.

Well, the help is you need to stop doing what you’re doing so that you can focus on your classes. That’s where you have to start.

Your chances of getting into medical school are very slim until you take that next step. And then once you take that next step, then you can do your master’s program, then you can do some sort of postbac so you can get that upward trend.

And just like Chad, you can start and get into a medical school. And now, Chad’s a rock star, he’s posting all the time on his Facebook page about getting scholarships for tons of different things. So he’s crushing it and he’s got four or five kids.

[09:43] Final Thoughts

Chad made the decision as a family to go on welfare services and get food stamps and really just live on help for him to be able to live his dream. And obviously, all of that money that helped him during that time is easily going to get paid back through the taxes of being a physician later on. And so it was worth it, depending on how you see leaning on social services like that.

“It’s doable. You just need support.”Click To Tweet

Get the help you need so that you can step away from you being the one needing to provide for the family so you can go focus on yourself and your classes. 

That doesn’t mean you give up on your family. It just means you are making sure that they’re supported in a different way so that you can go and take care of yourself and live your dreams.

[11:11] We’ve Got Something in Store for You!

Please go to mappd.com  and sign up to be notified of all the amazing things that we’re doing over there. This is a software a technology platform that I’ve partnered with someone who has been in the premed space for 20 years in the test prep world.

With my knowledge of the premed space, we’re planning on hiring and we’re going to put an offer out pretty soon to hire someone pretty amazing and who has an amazing resume in the premed and medical school world.

We are doing some amazing things there. So go sign up to be notified of all the amazing stuff we’re doing over there to help you, as a student, get through this journey.


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Nontrad Premed Forum


The Premed Years Session 230: Rejected from the Caribbean! Now with a US Acceptance!