What to Do If You Aren’t Willing to Relocate for Med School

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OPM 241: What to Do If You Aren't Willing to Relocate for Med School

Session 241

Today’s question is a common one for nontrad students who are hesitant about having to move to get into a medical school. But how much are you willing to compromise to become a physician?

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 as well as our newest technology platform called Mappd.

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

[00:59] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“Hey, guys! I am currently active duty Navy. I am getting out at the end of 2020 and moving to Alaska with my family. I will be attending UAA for undergraduate. My question is, what if I am not able to relocate my family for medical school? 

There is only one medical school in Alaska being WWAMI at UAA which still requires some time at school in Washington. How horrible is it for me to only apply to one medical school?  

I am very worried about not being able to go to medical school because of my location being in Alaska. I also was looking for tips from prior service members on their experiences through premed as prior military. Thank you for your time and consideration.”

[01:44] Applying to Only One Medical School

This question comes up a lot, especially for nontraditional students who have family, or who have a spouse or a loved one, and maybe have kids who are entrenched in the school system, work, and in the social circles. But move wherever you want, because we’re all stuck inside anyway.

'There's a huge risk of only applying to one medical school. But if that's all you can do, then one is greater than zero.'Click To Tweet

Saying you can’t move is just an artificial, arbitrary barrier because you can move. It’s just that you don’t want to. Everyone can move. Finances and family support can be worked through. You can save up enough to move on. You can figure out how your family is moving with you. You can figure out childcare and other stuff wherever you go. I’m not diminishing how hard it is to move. I’m not diminishing the cost to move. But you can wait to apply to medical school so that you can move. There are lots of options.

But it sounds like you’re already putting a barrier in saying you can only apply to one school. In my mind, that is more of an obstacle because there are going to be a lot of things on this path to medical school. You’re going to have to be flexible. And like any great relationship, you’re going to have to compromise. And where you live may be one of those compromises. And if you think it’s not worth the compromise, then just apply to one school and see what happens.

[03:59] Think Outside the Box

I worked with a student a few years ago who only applied to one school. She didn’t get in and she worked with me. The second time around, she applied to two schools. I convinced her to apply to one more school so she applied to two schools. Then she got into her top choice school, which was the school that she had applied to before. She didn’t want to move because her husband had a great job in the area and it would have been hard to relocate so she didn’t want to do it. 

I had another student a few years ago who lived around Los Angeles. She couldn’t move because her husband was in the film industry and so they couldn’t move. So she decided to apply to the schools within driving distance. And if she didn’t get in, then they’d talk about moving or maybe just moving alone.

“There are lots of options and you have to start thinking outside the box. It's what will make life much easier for everyone in your life.”Click To Tweet

Start thinking outside the box. It’s not just even talking about applying to medical school and where you’re going to go to medical school, but just life in general.

Maybe it will be hard. But you can’t say you can’t. Again, I’m not diminishing the fact that this is really hard. When you get out of the military and depending on how many times you’ve moved already, your family’ is probably tired of moving and they don’t want to move again. Maybe that’s good enough reason for you. But applying to medical school is hard. It’s competitive.

[06:06] Have Those Hard Discussions

Technically, Alaska doesn’t have any medical schools. So that’s one thing to think about. But you get to a point where your artificial limitations on where you will apply to are going to prevent you from potentially living your dream. Ask yourself, are you willing to not be a doctor to stay in Alaska? That’s really the question. And if you’re willing to do that, great. Apply to one school and cross your fingers.

But if you really want to be a physician, then have those hard discussions with your family. Talk about what potential sacrifices are going to be needed to live your dream of becoming a physician. And then you can make it back to Alaska at some point. Alaska needs physicians and getting there won’t be an issue.

'Think about the hard discussions that you have to have with your family.'Click To Tweet

[07:50] Build Those Relationships

Think about building relationships now with the WWAMI crew from the University of Washington and see what they want and what they need. Find out what they’re looking for to try to make yourself a solid candidate for their program. 

There are lots of options. Applying to one school isn’t a death sentence. It just makes things really hard and limits you in terms of what you can do. But it’s possible.


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