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AIBU?

To want to go to medical school at 37?

432 replies

MilanHilton · 03/01/2024 08:02

I’m 37, married with two nursery aged children. Husband and I both earn £45k each so we live comfortably but not well off.

My medical care when I was pregnant was atrocious and the NHS was negligent (they admitted it). Which really got me thinking… I want to be a doctor that LISTENS to women so that what happened to me won’t happen to another lady.

I know I’m old, and coming from a non science background I’ll have to do 6 years in medical school and then extra training to be an OBGYN. Looking at the junior doctor pay bands it is going to take me years to get back to my current salary. Not to mention needing to do shift work and the stress of it all.

Financially it will be a tight decade and by the time I finish uni, the kids will be towards the end of primary so hopefully life will be easier. I’ll be mid 40s when I finish medical school so will still have another 20 years of working still.

AIBU for considering putting my young family through a decade of financial and emotional stress with the hope that I’ll earn more in the future? Is it worth the stress?

AINBU - go be a doctor! You’ll save lives (sometimes)
AIBU - that’s too much work and financial turmoil, even if you become a doctor you’re not going to address the chronic lack of resource in NHS

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

1464 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
64%
You are NOT being unreasonable
36%
Pottedpalm · 03/01/2024 08:05

Go for it! At least start the process of finding out whether you would be accepted for training.. good luck!

CanaryCanary · 03/01/2024 08:06

Would you consider midwifery or nursing instead? Or something like a lactation consultant/doula? There’s lots of roles involving working with childbearing women without putting your family through all that.

Confrontayshunme · 03/01/2024 08:08

Everyone I know is making the opposite decision. They are moving away from medicine, reducing hours or going abroad because of the incredible stress and lack of resources. My BIL and all of his in-laws are doctors. Most of them have gone to 4 days (or less), decided to locum or moved away.

The only way to change this is to vote it away. The underfunding and immigration issues will kill the NHS. Most NHS workers from abroad are nurses and HCAs, and they won't earn anywhere near £38K. That is what will screw the NHS in the long run.

The govt want you to think you can fix it by becoming a doctor or NHS employee. But if you could, then it would already be fine. The problem isn't lack of compassionate staff.

TheGoogleMum · 03/01/2024 08:08

@CanaryCanary those roles don't earn 45k though do they? I think OP wants to eventually get back to and exceed current earnings

Morechocmorechoc · 03/01/2024 08:10

Between the fact you'll have no money so you'll struggle with the kids, the fact you'll have to do shift work forever more, again missing Christmases, birthdays etc, kids plays, all sorts, at this point is it worth it? You'll likely end up with years of struggle for your while family and a terrible job at the end of it.

Outthedoor24 · 03/01/2024 08:12

Honestly given junior doctors are striking over getting paid £14 per hour not much more than the living wage (WTF)

I can't believe they and the years of training are so undervalued.

It would make more sense to retrain as a Midwife or a nurse than to go through about 10 years of training and exams to become a Doctor when you have young children.

Easypeasycheesy · 03/01/2024 08:12

Seems madness to me!

Singleandproud · 03/01/2024 08:13

I think it's quite common for woman to consider a career as a midwife or OBGYN following pregnancy. However what you will also find is that most people already in those roles set about to listen to women and to provide the best care they could but financial and staffing issues and policies and procedures from above ends up snuffing that out and making it impossible.

When I first started teaching I had all the intentions of being a Miss Honey (Matilda) the longer I taught I realized the Trunchball might not have been so wrong after all. The realities if the job rarely meet our fantasy.

However, there's no reason you couldn't opt for a voluntary role and make the hospital experience better that way

CanaryCanary · 03/01/2024 08:13

@TheGoogleMum yeah that’s a fair point, but you have to balance future earnings against how much it costs to get there. So seven years of fees, living costs, earning nothing, no pension contributions etc etc. Versus a much much shorter study time for another related role so ok you earn less but you don’t have the big gap.

EarringsandLipstick · 03/01/2024 08:16

Honestly, I don't think it's practical, and I think your vision, while commendable, is misplaced.

You need to base a medical career on a lot more than a personal experience you wish had been different.

It sounds as if you don't have a relevant degree, so before even getting close to applying you'd need to have achieved appropriate results in science-based subjects. The studying is nearly the least of it; the training at your stage of family life is really tough, and to achieve financial stability you are looking at a consultant post, which is challenging and likely to require more accommodation & flexibility from you than you'll be able to give.

There are lots of options to change careers to maybe address some of the issues that motivate you - I just don't think this is viable.

(Also: cost - how will you fund your training while needing to support your family too?)

Panicmode1 · 03/01/2024 08:17

My brother is a consultant surgeon and strongly discouraged my children from doing medicine. He was a late entrant too - he was an accountant first, and went in at 27. Even without children it was HARD.

I would think about whether there are other roles you could do - midwifery, doula etc but talk to medical professionals in the NHS currently - and listen to what they are telling you. There is a reason that there are thousands of vacancies and hundreds of staff off with stress....it will also take you a VERY long time to get back up to £45k - I was shocked at how little my brother was being paid after YEARS of study and work, even as a senior registrar. (On top of which he has to pay for all of his exams and training courses.)

Tacotortoise · 03/01/2024 08:18

Well if you don't mind pretty much missing your children's childhoods to get there and your husband is happy being the sole
wage earners for years and then flexing childcare around your shifts, then yes go for it.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g · 03/01/2024 08:18

Talk to current doctors and medical students. It's not a family friendly profession. As well as working unsocial hours, you may have to move all over the country for work placements for years and years, starting in medical school. Long hours of extremely demanding clinical work, and long hours of study to get through exams not just at medical school but for years and years after that to get through specialist training and qualify for Royal College membership.

It's also extremely difficult to get onto a graduate entry medical degree course, especially if you have no science background.

TooBored1 · 03/01/2024 08:20

I think the wider the range of life experiences a junior doctor has, the better.

But do be aware a medicine degree is FULL time. You will be expected to be on placement for long hours, often needing to travel or stay away from home.

It's not impossible to do with children but can be harder to balance kids/medical studies than kids/work due to the frequently changing placements.

Rosario99 · 03/01/2024 08:21

I think it's crazy. Find a different way to make a difference, advocacy, campaign, fundraise or set up a charity or something.
You're not thinking properly about it. It will also be retraumatising you to be around the system.
You have young children, they need you to be around and it's unfair dropping your family finances to chase your own, highly likely fruitless crusade. You will never change the world. Focus on your kids and family.

Destiny123 · 03/01/2024 08:21

If I was totally honest I wouldn't. I finish training in 18m (now nearly 33), one of my vet mates has just gone back to med school (in oz) and I think she's slightly mad. Even in the time I've been qualified it's just got worse and worse. I love my job but I'm not sure I'd do it again

Look up physicians associates its a 2y msc if you've got a background science degree. They start on 50k+ for a 37h week, no nights weekends or oncalls, always someone to ask for advice (they can't yet prescribe or order radiation but otherwise similar day to day role... I strongly considered it mid uni but they ban medicine as a previous degree as they know we'd all leave for the better lifestyle

jamsandwich1 · 03/01/2024 08:22

Oh bloody hell don’t do it!! Coming from a (senior) junior doctor. You can’t even guarantee where you’ll end up working. You’ll be shifted halfway around the country every few years most likely. It’s not a consideration whether you have kids at school etc.
I love my job (on the whole) but we get treated atrociously. You can’t even begin to understand until you experience it.
the foundation programme (first 2 years after qualifying) is now completely random allocation so you have no idea where you’ll spend 2 years. Truly, truly don’t even go there. Even if there are no training bottle necks at reg level (there absolutely will be) you’ll be looking at becoming a consultant in your 50s. Obs and gynaecology is incredibly litigious. Do you want to be doing nights in your old age? (If you’ve never done nights you won’t understand how hard they hit).
I can’t even explain how much I’d advise you not to do it. Feel free to DM me.

Outthedoor24 · 03/01/2024 08:23

@CanaryCanary that's what I was thinking too.
Ops 37 - 6 or 7 years of no money The early years of being a Doctor aren't well paid either so really your talking 10 years at least before she's back to earning £45k and the debts.

That takes her to 47. I can't imagine many doctors still working full-time at 67 so really it's a lot of training and effort for 20 years of decent money.

I actually thought that medicine courses don't accept people beyond 32 because of the length of time it takes to qualify.
That might be a single course policy and it might have changed but I've certainly heard of it.

Pottedpalm · 03/01/2024 08:23

Panicmode1 · 03/01/2024 08:17

My brother is a consultant surgeon and strongly discouraged my children from doing medicine. He was a late entrant too - he was an accountant first, and went in at 27. Even without children it was HARD.

I would think about whether there are other roles you could do - midwifery, doula etc but talk to medical professionals in the NHS currently - and listen to what they are telling you. There is a reason that there are thousands of vacancies and hundreds of staff off with stress....it will also take you a VERY long time to get back up to £45k - I was shocked at how little my brother was being paid after YEARS of study and work, even as a senior registrar. (On top of which he has to pay for all of his exams and training courses.)

Published figures indicate that junior doctors hit that figure by their second foundation year. And there is a pay rise due..

Destiny123 · 03/01/2024 08:23

If you've already got a degree have you looked at how u will fund it without student loans as the fees are so much more than when I did it on the 3.5k feed and my mates then were having to work night shifts as hcas then go to uni the next day just to fund the course as you can't get student loans as a grad

EmilyTjP · 03/01/2024 08:24

Maybe you could do another role or volunteer in a hospital setting to get some experience to see what it’s truly like working for the NHS and dealing with members of the public.
You say you want to listen to women but you need to appreciate not all women are like you. Working in a maternity background, I’ve witnessed women pouring water on their underwear to pretend they’ve broken their waters or opening their cannula and putting blood on sanitary towels to imply they’re PV bleeding.
Mistakes do happen sadly and things can be missed but it’s not because all NHS doctors lack compassion and don’t listen to women. There’s lots of factors.

jamsandwich1 · 03/01/2024 08:24

Also, sorry to sound cynical but you won’t change the world. You are just a miserable cog in a miserable failing system. There aren’t the resources to give the care you’d ever want to.

LaMarschallin · 03/01/2024 08:25

Financially it will be a tight decade

Decade?!
I'd say you're very much underestimating the time span.

You have no science background and you'll need a grounding in science before you start medical school. I presume your ultimate goal is to be a consultant?

Even if you'd count yourself as an OBGYN once you're on a training rotation, you've still got a year working in medicine and surgery before you can even think about that.

I'm sure you have idealistic motives, but this path sounds unrealistic to say the least.
Maybe try some of the alternatives PPs have suggested.

olympicsrock · 03/01/2024 08:26

Don’t do it. When your children are 6/7 you will be studying hard during evenings and weekends and not have time to do nice things with them ( or the money ) . When they are 8-12 you will be a junior doctor and have a nightmare with wraparound care ( work 8-6! As well as shifts) miss sports day, assemblies etc
You would be massively stressed sleep deprived and frustrated with the system

Doctor mum

Unabletomitigate · 03/01/2024 08:26

Hey there, before you commit to entering the system that let you down, take a look at functional medicine. This is gaining ground in the US, as a backlash against the role of pharmatceutical companies in medical education. It might lead you down a different path.

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