Hello there! I posted this in careers…but I thought it would get more hits under medicine. I was wondering how/when people start families if they are wanting to become a doctor. If the husband and wife are both going to medical school, when is a good time to start a family? Obviously, I it is too hard to be a mom and go to med school because it is too much work, so do most people have kids after med school? After residency? If so, does that mean that you have to wait a few years before starting/joining a practice (I want to be a pediatrician). What is life like with both spouses as medical students and eventually doctors?
There is no "good" time to have a baby, period! I had my first daughter before I started med school, and my second during residency. Being a mother is difficult overall, and adding in a "second job" (such as med school, residency, practice, etc.) adds to the difficulty. It’s really tough to do a good job at both and impossible to give 100% to both. That said, in general, schedules are a little more flexible and forgiving in medical school than residency. If you can at all plan it, I’d suggest trying to get pregnant during your third year of med school so that the baby is born during 4th year – that’s the freebie year when you get your fun electives and attendings are surprised when you actually show up for rounds. Plus there’s a whole month off.
Residency is a whole other ballgame, because any time you take off means extra work for your colleagues. They can be pretty unforgiving when they are overworked to start with… and then you call in because you have morning sickness or your baby is sick…. Actually, it’s pretty hard to call in sick unless your residency program allows it. That’s when having a supportive spouse is paramount. I found that I needed a full-time nanny while in residency, and boy is that expensive when you’re making a couple of dollars an hour! (not kidding about that hourly wage)
Once you’re out in practice, things get a little easier, particularly in a female-dominated specialty such as peds. Women physicians are a hot commodity in primary care specialties, and it’s generally understood that women want to have families. It’s probably a lot tougher in surgical specialties, though I think overall the field of medicine is becoming much more accepting of female physicians having families. Gosh, good luck – it’s a long road ahead, but very very rewarding!!
Oh, and lots of doctor-doctor couples do it and survive!