Quite frequently throughout this process I have thrown my hands up in frustration and said, “When did they expect you to start all this?? Kindergarten??” Between all the requirements for the medical school application process, I felt like there just weren’t enough hours in the day. 2,000 hours of this, 1,000 hours of that. Maintain active shadowing, service, and leadership opportunities while keeping up a high GPA and preparing for the MCAT. Oh you don’t have medical research history for 3+ years? What about that one class from high school, the one time you received a B in a class…. what happened there? Better make sure you’re a well-rounded applicant. Remember, it’s not all about academics! What intricate hobbies to you have? Did you play sports in college? Master an instrument? Speak several languages? Oh and by the way, all of those things have to have occurred in the last 4 years or they don’t count.
To which I would grit my teeth and seethe, “With what time? How in the WORLD could a single person possibly accomplish all of that? My husband has known he’s wanted to become a doctor his whole entire life and even then it was so difficult to meet the endless requirements!!”
So why do we do it? Why do I support my husband going to medical school? Because it’s his dream. Yes the road is long, hard, and sometimes seems impossible but at the end of the day…it’s simply worth it.
Recently someone asked me if it was really worth it to be in school for THAT long. I’ve asked myself that many, many times. Ultimately, I’ve always come to the same conclusion. Yes. Undergraduate work is 4 years, then medical school is another 4. After that you have between 2-12 years of residency depending on what specialty you chose. At minimum, you’re spending 10 years in school and training after high school. But you know what? In 10 years you’re going to be somewhere anyways. You can spend 10 years working, or you can spend 10 years in school. The same amount of time is going to be spent anyways and the only thing that will change is your destination at the end. So don’t rob yourself of reaching your ultimate goal because its takes SO long to get there.
Some of my friends went to college, and others didn’t. I chose to go to college right away and power through it as fast as I could. After 3 and a half years I have a Bachelor’s degree with endless opportunities. I could have spent the last 3 and a half years working at the same place I did in high school and my situation would have stayed exactly the same, but I’ll be damned if I spent the same amount of time and looked back wishing I had spent it differently. Now that I am done, I know that I will never look back in regret, wishing I had done something different.
Remember that time is a gift. You can spend it however you want, but you cannot get it back or earn more if you are unsatisfied with how you chose to spend yours. There are no ‘returns’ or ‘refunds’ in the real world if you are unsatisfied. So when you look at the long road ahead of becoming a doctor ask yourself this one thing.
Where do you want to see you and your family in 10 years?
Yes, 10 years is a long time but you’re going to spend the same exact amount of time do something, so you might as well spend it working towards what you want.
So keep the hope. Keep the dream. Encourage and lift others around you. Set your standards high, and your work ethic higher. I will close with the wise words of my mother in law, “Work Hard and Be Happy”.
–Mistress to the Medicine