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Has anyone become a doctor or vet later on? I'm 34 with 2 young children, is it a mad idea?

(36 Posts)
looseleaf Sun 01-Dec-13 12:34:47

I don't even have science A levels so would have to take these and wondering whether it's a mad idea; I thought of becoming a vet as a teen but never hard enough and now I have children wonder whether becoming a doctor would be reachable as it's a job I'd feel even more important (I grew up animal mad but now would care even more about human patients!)

Has anyone done this eg after having children ?

I think I would love the challenge but could we ever possibly afford it and how would I find out if I have what it takes? DH thinks a great idea but i think it will take so long. And our youngest is only 2.

peaky123 Sun 01-Dec-13 12:48:59

Do you have a degree already? If so a graduate entry programme would be perfect (shorter course and nhs bursary for tuition fees, living expenses, childcare).
Otherwise an access to medicine course, is a year and replaces traditional science a levels.
I'm in my last year of a graduate entry medical degree, im 31, pregnant and had a baby half way through! So certainly doable at any age. I think the oldest person in our year is 45.

namechangefornames Sun 01-Dec-13 12:54:39

There have been a few threads on this.

Graduate entry medicine is 4 years. To be honest though medical school isn't the hard bit, it's being a junior doctor that is the hard bit. We had DC1 during DP's first year on the graduate programme & DC2 during FY1.

So actually that might work for you, if you've finished having children, as by the time you got through medical school your kids would be bigger & it would be easier.

looseleaf Sun 01-Dec-13 12:55:51

I have a 2:1 in languages (from Cambridge) so not very relevant but I'm glad graduate entry might mean a shorter course though it must be mega intense?
Well done reaching your last year and with so much else in your life, this is so inspiring.
What has been the cost of the course? DH is working but his income can be very changeable.
Thank you!

looseleaf Sun 01-Dec-13 15:07:32

Thanks namechange and I'll look for older threads too. 4 years sounds much less daunting and I'm starting to really get excited. I'm daunted too as not sure I'll have what it takes so I'd really better find out a lot!
Thanks for replying to me as helped that it isn't impossible

namechangefornames Sun 01-Dec-13 17:17:38

I know lots of people who went onto GEP without a science background & did fine - an anthropologist, Eng Lit grad, linguist off the top of my head. I will look for the other threads later (after bedtime!) & link them for you.

steeking Sun 01-Dec-13 17:32:42

A huge expense which, if you decide to become a vet, will take years to pay back. The median salary in this years survey was around


steeking Sun 01-Dec-13 17:33:00


steeking Sun 01-Dec-13 17:34:16

Bloody Computer!!

TossedSaladsAndScrambledEggs Sun 01-Dec-13 17:35:03

Do it. I am 31 with a dd and in my 5th year of medical school. I love it.

namechangefornames Sun 01-Dec-13 17:36:01

Think median salary for doctors is £45,000, is that right?

If looking between vet/doctor I would look at future employment opportunities as well. There are always jobs for doctors, although you don't always have control over your location (did you know junior doctors are essentially assigned to locations in a fairly Stalinist procedure? grin) - I don't know about vets.

looseleaf Sun 01-Dec-13 18:06:55

Many thanks all. tossedsalad that's great and have you had to move your family around? I've been reading older threads and a bit daunted by the sound of the demands on travel. We live in west London

BigPigLittlePig Sun 01-Dec-13 18:16:32

Loose I am in my 5th yr of working as a doctor, and was single and childfree throughout my training. But, just in general terms.

Starting salary is £28,000. Now at year 5, I get closer to the £45000 but only because I do nights, 1 in 10 evenings, and 1 in 4 weekends. And that is an easy going rota, there are much worse out there.

Moving around - depends upon where you study. In Wales, you could find yourself 5+ hours travel away from the uni city. Bristol placements on the other hand, could be commuted to from the city every day. Something to bear in mind though.

And yes, in the future, you will discover that the regional employers care not one jot that you have children, a house or a life - and will be expected to move all over the place on a regular basis, until you get a bit higher up the ranks.

It is very rewarding, but very very demanding. I wish you the best of luck in whatever you decide.

And fwiw, I would do nothing else, it is the best job in the world.

peaky123 Sun 01-Dec-13 18:17:28

You don't need a relevant/sciencey degree, just pass the GAMSAT exam for Nottingham and st George's, which is basic sciences and English.
Expense wise, you need to pay for the first year tuition, then the nhs pays the remaining years, plus you get a student loan and bursary.
Re moving around, you could study at st George's or kings then when it comes to applying for foundation jobs you put in a special circumstances application as the parent of a child in school, partner with stable job etc. this allows you to preselect the deanery rather than compete for it if you see what I mean. We moved to Nottingham for my degree and I among special circs applying for the east of England to be closer to my family. Will need the support when working.

DeathByLaundry Sun 01-Dec-13 18:26:11

I'm a vet. Lots of opportunities to work part time and avoid out of hours work these days, but the money is nothing to write home about. The course is bloody hard and you will get no financial support. Because it is in such high demand the fees are outrageous - it is a moneyspinner for universities.

I'd consider medicine in your position but be prepared to throw yourself in. Vocational degrees are really really tough (I lived with medics while I studied and they worked every bit as hard as the vets did) so you have to have good support.

The other thing to consider would be dentistry.

namechangefornames Sun 01-Dec-13 18:27:49

My DP was at George's - they took his circs into account & he never did a placement further out than Croydon. He also applied special circs for foundation deanery & was accepted, but a word of warning - a friend with child & wife wasn't accepted & ended up having to move out of London. You also can't apply for special circs at any other stage so eg when applying for specialist train in you could end up anywhere within the deanery if you even get your deanery. The rota is also shit for family life.

lyndie Sun 01-Dec-13 18:42:51

I did medicine straight from school and would agree that the degree would be tough but manageable with children. Others are right about travel, there can be very long distances with little choice in placements. I had my children relatively early on after qualifying and while there were part time junior doctor jobs they weren't easy to coordinate and very poorly paid. That said my current life as a locum GP with portfolio bits has amazing flexibility and freedom! The journey is hard but the destination is ace.

looseleaf Sun 01-Dec-13 18:45:45

You're all helping no end with all your thoughts. Thanks heaps. I will consider dentistry too.

The hard work aspect makes me feel excited rather than put off as with my first degree I wasted a lot of opportunities and was quite busy socialising/ being young. I've been a SAHM wholeheartedly for 7 years and think I'll love the focus and challenge of medicine.

We could cope with one move as would consider leaving London but our DCs education is important too and I certainly don't want to move them unless it's just once.

My DH would be a huge support and his hours are very reasonable and flexible .

Also will I ever get a place if it's so competitive? I could start an access to medicine course in my own time eg at night and earlier threads suggested volunteering too?

Delayingtactic Sun 01-Dec-13 18:49:35

I would also think about what type of doctor you want to be. This involves a big discussion with DH about expectations and practicalities, not just during med school but later. There is a big difference between being a GP, medical hospital doctor or surgeon.

FYI I am six years post graduation, am an orthopaedic surgical registrar and earn £54,000. DH is a SAHP partly because my oncalls were becoming unworkable. I do one oncall a week roughly and 1 in 6 weekends but am on for the full 24 hrs during the week and 48 hrs over the weekend (with no compensatory day off). My hrs during the week are very reasonable though with only the occasional late finish. I've decided to go along the non-training route because I don't think 6 monthly rotations work for us as a family but slit of people wouldn't do that. Certainly within surgery you need to have a thick skin - teaching is often by humiliation and sexism is alive and thriving (not particularly amongst my dept but have come across it fairly frequently, oddly mostly amongst general surgeons and most especially in patients).

The challenges that are in my job are very very different to that of a medic or GP. But I love my job. It's engaging and challenging but in orthopaedics you mostly get to fix people! Go for it if it's what you want to do! I taught mature students and I loved it when they were there - they weren't messing about and wanted to learn.

VivaLeBeaver Sun 01-Dec-13 18:57:09

I'm thinking of doing GAMSAT with a view to a place at Nottingham. I'm late 30s.

I'm put off by the fact I'm an hour and a bit from Nottingham and nearly two hours from derby which I think is where the course is based. Even after training I'm guessing the likelihood of getting placements in Mansfield, Nottingham, derby, chesterfield all of which are an hour plus away are high.

If I could train and work at the hospital ten minutes away I'd be there like a shot.

peaky123 Sun 01-Dec-13 19:05:10

Hi Viva, the first 18 months are at derby, then between QMC, City, Lincoln, Boston, Mansfield and derby. You can apply for special circumstances though, and as I live in derby I've never been placed at city, Boston or Lincoln. My friend who lives in Newark and has 4 children has never been to derby or Mansfield, but had lots of Lincoln etc. so can be flexible to a degree. Good luck!
And when thinking about the competition, I used to think, somebody has got to get the places, why not me?? Be positive!

looseleaf Sun 01-Dec-13 19:18:07

I'm thinking being a GP would be great and DH is so enthusiastic &thinks I'd be so good but then he is my DH grin. The main worry I have is tiredness as I do tire a lot physically and need a lot of sleep!

VivaLeBeaver Sun 01-Dec-13 19:21:26

Peaky, what sort of bursaries are available? Is it means tested? Thanks.

peaky123 Sun 01-Dec-13 19:29:33

The bursary I get covers my tuition fees, and the rest is means tested, towards living expenses and childcare. I also get travel allowance, mileage and car parking paid. I get about £400 a month bursary, for living expenses, but my husband earns enough that we don't get working family tax credits, so if he earned less we would get more if you see what I mean.
I also get around £3000 student loan. I think. It's been ages since September......

peaky123 Sun 01-Dec-13 19:30:58

I also got my bursary paid while on mat leave, which is good to know if anyone is planning on a baby during the course (!)

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