I have a question for all the mature gals out there interested in, or in the practice of medicine who are 35 and up.
How do you feel that you have changed as a person in the last decade of your life? Are the desires you had at 25 the same desires you have now? Have those interests and desires grown stronger over the past decade or changed altogether?
I was at a party last night and met a young internist (mid-30's) out of residency 2 years. I shared with him my motivation in medicine (third world mission work) and he told me I was being too "idealistic". He said that he too wanted that once. He told me that after medical school, you are in so much debt (he is -150k) that you are too tied down to go anywhere. AND he said that at my age (26) by the time I am finished I'll be in a phase in my life where those things no longer seem realistic, and I'll want stability finacially, nicer things ect...(which is true, by then I'd like financial security. I don't want a BMW and lots of expensive things...but a house would be nice) It was a little discouraging to hear that.
Thought I'd get on here and hear some other opinons; if anyone feels inspired to share. What is life like mid-thirties? Anyone who "used to" want to do medical missions but since burnt out on the idea, or found it impossible due to debt, or other circumstances?
Oh....what was the saying? Opinions are like.....???? Anyway, I'm 36 and in my 2nd year of medical school. Like most people, sure I've changed in many ways over a decade. But I don't think my ideals have changed as much as they've been shaped by experience. I believe that integrity grows through experience too, and I hope that I've grown and will continue to grow along those lines. Also with a decade of experience, insight improves. I believe that if I had a calling to mission work when I was 25, I'd probably still have it today, but that's just me. My core values have not changed a whole lot in my adult life.
Debt is certainly an issue, but there are ways of getting around debt too....like contracting to work in high need areas! I would imagine that if it is your desire to do mission work, such a contract would probably be available to assist you. I wouldn't let one numbskull deter you from doing such work. If you have a desire to fill such a need in this world, then you can certainly find a way if one is not readily apparent.
I think that any call to mission work I may have had when I was in my early twenties has been eliminated from the plan by the birth of my children. Let's face it, living in the third world as a young single person is one thing, but raising children there would be quite another. Although I have a friend who is doing just that (in rural China) and I wish I were more adventurous, I now find that the safety and well-being of my kids has overtaken those desires to do that type of thing.
So, although I applaud everyone who is willing to live that lifestyle, I just wanted to point out that you MAY (or may not ) feel differently after you have young children. Just something to keep in mind... ie. you might want to do that right away after graduating, and then consider whether you are comfortable enough in that environment to stay there once you decide to have kids.
You are so fortunate to be starting young, you will have plenty of time to follow your idealistic tendencies. I think many of us here spent much of our younger years without any ideals, plodding through each day, and only realizing in our thirties that medicine was what we'd wanted all along. To me, pusuing medicine in your thirties is idealistic, adventurous, and brave. So perhaps you will have an even greater resolve and more courage in ten years.
As for the debt, I hear everyone here so stressed about it, but I look at it pretty philisophically. I equate med-school debt to the price of a second home. Many, many people have vacation homes...I guess I won't be one of them because I'll have school loans instead. To me, it's a fair trade-off. Or, rather than buying the 400K house that I could qualify for, I'll buy a 250K house instead. I don't like big pretentious houses anyway, and I really won't be spending that much time there!
As to mission work, there is so much you can do and grants and support available to do a lot of it. Check into
or [url=http://www.charitablechoices.org.]www.charitablechoices.org.[/url] You may find that you have to work for years in the US before you can afford the time and money to work internationally, but in the end anything you do will be valuable...It's just a matter of you deciding how you're willing to live--In a mud-floored hut in Nairobi? For one month a year? Or twelve months a year? You CAN be idealistic and realistic at the same time...Just find the balance.
Thanks for your responses. I like to think that I can do whatever I put my mind to, so long as I am willing to make the sacrifices it will require. It can be discouraging to hear people ahead of you telling you that the debt makes it impossible. I guess this is my main concern.
Lindsey, you make the point about doing work in high-need areas to pay off loans. I wonder if there are opportunities in American territories like Guam to do contracted work like that. I hear that the US is responsible for the medical care there, and there is a great shortage of physicians willing to move there or similar places. I am also wondering if there might be contracted work for other international locations as well. Anyone know how to go about finding this kind of information???
Val, you said that I might have to work for years in the US to be able to financially afford leaving. I think your right...but I don't want to hear that! I just want to go to school, finish residency and get the heck out of here! That's where I think I might be being too idealistic. I actually am looking into Nurse Practitioner programs, because I could finish faster with minimal debt, and still provide rural care in the third world or developing areas semi-independently. NP's are able to diagnose, prescribe meds, deliver babies, etc...basically provide rural heath care services. Regular nursing does not appeal to me, but I hear that NP's are not like regular nurses. Anyone have thoughts or info. on that?
Mimicat, you make the point of having children in developing countries. You are right, it would be very diffucult. I do not intend of having children right now, so that is not a road block for me. I can see how mothering and missions would be hard to coordinate!
Thanks all! You are an important part in my decision-making process.
I don't know your background, but if Christian missions is a possibility you might consider Medsend.org (I think). They pick up the tab on debt repayment in order to send medical missionaries into the field following education and before becoming "locked" into a job.