Hello all! First time posting, long time lurker. I'm currently in school to become an RN, I've been a CNA since '09 and have honestly wanted to become a doctor since I was 14 years old, but coming from a very poor family I needed to begin working immediately. I just couldn't wait 12 years for a career.
I know all of the pre-req's required to get into medical school. I plan on working as an RN while finishing my BSN and final pre-req's. I do have a few concerns regarding attending medical school.
My biggest concern about attending medical school is cost. I've read here on the forums and other areas that it's next to impossible to work while in medical school. What is the loan situation while in school and has anybody worked part time or PRN while in school? Are you able to get enough in loans to support your family or is it a stone soup situation for 8 years? I'm just worried because I've worked so hard to even touch the idea of being middle class and I'm afraid going to medical school is going to put me right back below the poverty line.
I have also been considering becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife instead of going to medical school because the training takes a fraction of the time and I would be permitted to work while in school, but I just don't think I'd be happy with my decision to settle for anything less than physician level.
I came from a lowerish-middle-class family growing up, and had a similar mindset as you. I got my RN and worked for a few years before going to med school. I think your plan is pretty solid, although it is hard to go from making a salary to living on loans. There are a lot of other medical fields that do not require as much of your time and money and still provide a nice lifestyle, like pharmacy, dentistry, psychology, PA/NP, optometry, biomedical engineering, and so on. Many PAs will remind you that if you are planning to work part-time in primary care, the cost-benefit ratio might favor going PA, if you are only considering finances. CNM might be more favorable if you are ONLY considering OB when you factor in lifestyle and liability considerations.
That being said, your income potential is highest if you become an MD. It will pay off...eventually. When you are in school, your undergrad loans can be deferred. You can get loans for living expenses, and most, if not all, will allow you to take loans for childcare costs as well. It's not a ton ($15K?), but it helps. Residents are generally paid $45-55K, which isn't too much less than a bedside nurse (although the hours/week are far more).
How old are you? If you are young and don't have kids, what are you waiting for? A career in medicine will hands-down get you out of poverty if you are willing to work hard and work with what you got for a few years. If you know you want to go to med school, it may not be worth spending the time in a different career, which may distract you from your goal. Why not go for it now?
Oh, I also worked PRN in med school (quit once I had my first baby), about 4 hours/week. Enough to cover groceries every month, so it helped. My employer was very flexible with me; I did 5-9pm every Friday.
So I hear your concerns about income. I was a single mom until last year and worked my way through undergrad working 40 hours a week on top of school and research and all the other stuff you do to be well rounded.
There is absolutely NO WAY I could have worked these past two years in medical school. None. I had to figure out how to cook more quickly, sleep less, and fit in some small amount of exercise and still pass classes- and that in itself was a huge challenge for me.
My school gives me about $14-20K per year to live on (depending on which year). I have classmates that are men, married with many kids, and they make it work by taking out additional private loans. I would avoid that if you can make ends meet some other way.
Also, for my school, I got additional loans to cover the cost of my daughter's preschool (that single, childless students wouldn't qualify for). Or if your car breaks down, or if there's another huge unplanned expense, you can submit a loan increase request.
I would recommend going for your dream. Don't settle. If you're used to living on a little and getting by, you'll be just fine on the loans. It's when medical students try to live like doctors they run into trouble. I know it's not the most popular thing to admit- but I also qualified and accepted state medicaid for health insurance and food stamps. It allowed me to feed my daughter good, whole fresh food and get her medical care. I figure I will give back to the system enough to make up for it when I'm a doctor, so I'm not ashamed.
You can make it work!
No one in my class works, I know of two people who work 10 hours a week in the first year class (personal trainer or EMT), but they are single and childless. I say take the loans (minimum amount you can survive on), and any time you're not in class or studying, spend that time with your kids and not working.