You read that right. As of June of this year, I officially graduated from medical school.
It may have taken me a bit longer than normal, I finished in six years rather than four, but I got it done. There were so many times I wanted to quit and even now I feel like I’m not good enough for this career, but at least I can say that I actually finished it. Despite all the issues I’ve had over the years, I ended up making a good amount of great friends and I enjoyed traveling the country, even though I missed my family like crazy. It was truly an experience, that’s for sure.
Honestly, if I could go back in time, there’s a lot I would change, a different path I would’ve taken that wouldn’t have landed me over $300K in debt and taken me away from my family for so long. But, “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s” won’t cut it and I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and hope that it’ll pay off in the end. Oh, I’m sure that I’ll be working until I keel over because of that massive debt and my responsibilities to my family, but that’s my weight to bear in life.
I still have a licensing exam to study for and take, exams are never-ending, which is currently scheduled for Sept. 8th. I don’t know if anything will ever come of this decision to pursue medicine because I have to apply for a Residency program, which has a high rate of not accepting non-competitive applicants. I’m not going to deny that I’m not competitive. Even though my Basic Sciences grades are good and my Clinical clerkship evaluations are excellent, my standardized test scores leave a LOT to be desired and that’s what they consider to be the most important factor. And because my timing is a little off and I probably won’t get my test score back in time, it looks like I won’t even able to apply this year. It really bums me out, but when I thought about it, I’d probably have a better chance if I applied next year. That way I’d have all my USMLE Step exam scores in and I’d have more time to put together my personal statement and get my letters of recommendation. I know I’ll have to get a job in the health care field so that I have something meaningful to add to my application for this year lost. I really wanted to apply this year, but at this point, I feel like it would just be a waste of money that I don’t have on the VERY miniscule chance that I might get an interview and even slimmer chance that I might match. You’d need like 10+ interviews to even stand a chance.
The whole process is long, tedious, and expensive. You can rack up at least $10K, if not more, in application fees & travel for interviews alone. Applications opening up in Sept, interview season runs from Oct-Jan, and then the actual MATCH event where you find out if you have “matched” with a program happens in March. You don’t actually start working until July of that year. Then it’s 3-5 years of being the bitch of the hospital, with no life, but at least by then you’re getting paid, albeit practically minimum wage. And that’s if you actually get into a program. If you don’t match, you’re left with a mountain of debt and nothing to show for it but a piece of paper. Then, of course, you’re walking with your tail between your legs trying to find a decent job to support yourself and your family, all while Sallie Mae breathes down your neck. I honestly wish I had known this going in because I wouldn’t have done all this, but that’s my own dumb fault for not doing my research.
But, I digress…
This post was supposed to be a happy one celebrating the fact that the “hard part” is over, or at least the boring part. But seriously, if you or your child are considering a career as a doctor, do your research and decide if this is truly your passion and you’re willing to live like a hobo for 4 years and you’re willing for them to bleed your bank account dry. If you just want to be in the medical/health care field, there are definitely more lucrative, less life & money-sucking opportunities out there.
I guess if I can say anything, it’s that I never gave up. Each time they told me NO, I found another way, and I kept on chugging along.
So yeah, fingers crossed I pass my exam in Sept so I can close that chapter at least. Then it’s off to find a REAL job and get this application process started.