Friday, February 3, 2012

please help me answer an email

I received an e-mail from a reader last week.  I have been thinking about it a lot since, but have felt unsure about my response.  I decided to post a part of the e-mail on here and offer some of my thoughts.  I am hoping others will leave their advice and ideas as well.

"...I have about 2.5 years of school left before I complete my elementary education degree, and my husband has about 2 years left of undergrad. He's in a constant debate with himself about whether he wants to go with optometry, or ophthalmology. The optometry option seems a little bit more calm rather than the ophthalmology route, but we don't want to sell ourselves short and settle because we are afraid of the bigger challenge... and by reading your blog, it seems it really is the bigger challenge! ...because the other night we just sat at the kitchen table and were trying to budget and just thinking to ourselves.......How in the world does everybody do it? We both have to cut our working schedules basically in half by next semester, and have to focus our next two years on school and who knows what will happen. We are pretty lost most of the time, and most of our friends seem to be having a fountain of financial security somewhere that we can't find, ha ha!
I guess if med school is in our future, we have a lot of preparation to do! I'm really afraid of loans. My husband doesn't have any thus far, but I do and it's terrifying to me! We'll probably have to keep getting more to finish these last few years.... then tons more I'm sure!
We aren't planning on having kids for a few years....(After all, I'm only 20).... but it's all on Heavenly Father's timing and what he says goes. :) But I'm definitely not afraid if it were to happen now, because your blog makes me feel like it is possible and that we could do it!
Have you or your husband run into any ophthalmologists or 'future' ophthalmologists on your path?!
I would definitely love some or any advice you could possibly offer us! I would appreciate it so much!"

There were so many thoughts flying through my mind while reading this e-mail that I honestly do not know where to begin.  So, if my comments seem out of order and unconnected, that is why...

Here is some helpful advice that my husband received early in his education, (during his undergrad years), and which he now tells people who are debating whether or not to go into medicine:  If there is any other career path that you think you would be happy pursuing, choose it (over medicine).  But, if medicine is the only thing that you can imagine yourself doing (and being happy), then go for it.

And this is my advice:  None of it has been easy, ever.  I have worked or been in school (when I took out loans for living expenses) during all of my husband's studies and training.  He is in his 3rd year of residency and I am still working to supplement his income - with four kids at home.  My husband also worked whenever possible (during undergrad, during summers while in medical school).  There were brief moments in between when I stressed about our finances to the point of inflicting help problems upon myself (shingles at 30!).  (*And my husband and I have loving and supportive families backing us up and helping us out oftentimes.)

Just today while I was driving in my van I was wondering what (or if) I was thinking when we decided to start having children just months after we were married and I received my B.S. degree.  BUT, I am grateful now.  BUT, would I wish this upon my worst enemy?  Hmmm.  I don't know.  I am a pretty optimistic person.  I also realize how blessed we really are.  But, the experiences I have had to go through to learn all of this were truly painful at the time that I experienced them.

But, I never have experienced other peoples' trials.  Maybe they are worse than mine.  Maybe this thing called Residency really isn't that bad... compared to what other people go through during their preparation for their careers.

My husband also admits that he will not encourage his children to pursue medicine.

However, with all of that said, it does change everything to consider how Heavenly Father can make up the difference, how He can teach us and strengthen us - particularly when we are humble and "needy".  Maybe my husband and I will look back on these years as the time when we learned the most, when we felt closest to Heavenly Father, when we exercised great trust and faith in Him and then were able to see miracles.  Because we do see them.  Every day.

Plus, we are happy.  Really, we are.


Sara said...

I agree with everything you said.

Rob also says all the time that he would not encourage his children to do medicine. Just like his father did not encourage him....and then he says the same "If there is any other career path that you think you would be happy pursuing, choose it (over medicine). But, if medicine is the only thing that you can imagine yourself doing (and being happy), then go for it." -For him it was medicine that he knew he needed to do and he will do (and has done) amazing things with it.

As for loans, the writer of that email should be prepared to take out a lot of them that's 100% for sure.

Anonymous said...

To follow your passion, regardless of the loans because ultimately, happiness in your career and life will outweigh any hardships you may incur now. Medical training is so incredibly difficult at times that the emotional toll scares me more than the financial.

Adair said...

I think the advice Jared received...if there is another career they could be just as happy in, choose it over medicine, is so spot on. Medicine is an incredibly stressful path, and Billy is in psychiatry!!! This is such a hard letter to respond to because it's difficult to give someone the perspective you now have looking back. I hope I'm not sounding too hard on the field. Medicine is unique and I am grateful Billy is able to help people in such a big way with his training. Just my two cents for what it's worth:-) look how wonderful and far reaching your blog is great!

From A Doctors Wife said...

Every one's experience will be different. They may share the same themes but will be at varying degrees based on factors too numerous to name. What may be right for one person may not be right for you. Big decisions like schooling, children, career choices should be a matter of sincere prayer. I am amazed at our capacity to adapt and endure. There really isn't any obstacle so large that can't be overcome. If I had been allowed to see the future before I had to make the decisions, I might have chosen differently and perhaps foolishly. Who would have thought that the time would go as quickly as it did, that the things we needed we present themselves when we needed them, that I would still have my sanity and possess the faith that everything will come together for our good. Don't fear what might happen. Live your life today with faith and trust that in the end you will be better for the experiences you have gained. Good luck to your reader - you will be just fine, I promise:-)

Jeff and ReAnn said...

Sometimes I feel bad or alone in the sense that I LOVE being in residency (well my DH is). I am not sure if it is just my husbands residency program or the awesome city we live in, but life couldn't be better right now. He thoroughly enjoys his field (anesthesia) and we have so much support from so many friends out here. Our family away from family. I think medicine is so worth it. You study hard, you work hard, and in the end you WILL get a decent income. Now of course that amount varies from person to person. The loans are out of this world crazy, but education is worth it. I have 4 kids, haven't had a real job since we stared med school, we have astronomical medical school loans, but we are livin' on Love and the good things in life (that is another way of saying we are poor, but not poverty stricken). If you look at it the right way it will keep you grounded.

Best of Luck in your endeavors with your career path. As anyone should its a no brain-er to choose a career you love. And if you aren't sure about it... then do some research, shadow, and ask questions.

Jamie Lamb said...

I really agree with all the others--

Don't choose it unless you LOVE it, (and if nothing else will do.)

It IS a live-able stretch of goes on, and it is a HAPPY life.

Loan repayment after residency is quite achievable with such a high income. It's just math...huge numbers can be scary, but they do work out. (I don't think we'd ever consider taking out loans unless we went the med school route, simply because of high income later on.)

Having kids during med school (2 boys), then during residency (2 girls) was the best decision we ever made. It was not easy, but that's why it was good! I love what parenthood has done to us. Having kids is hard no matter what income, career, or situation you choose...but it's a beautiful hard. :)

Everything in this stage of your life is a personal decision...I feel like the only real advice I can give is financial:

If he chooses med school, look for a residency program that offers moonlighting. (It has MORE than doubled our income...please, please look into this!)

Do not buy a house, RENT. The economy is too unpredictable, and this was by far our worst mistake! (In fact, sometimes we laugh about what on earth we'd be stressed about during residency if we were renting right now! It is seriously such a financial and emotional drain to own!)

I agree with one of the other commenters-- if we could see the future, maybe we would have chosen differently...but that may have been foolish. The fact is I LIKE who I am right now, and a lot of that has to do with the trials of residency. It's a refiners fire.

Best of luck! Hope this helps!