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.