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I'm having a midlife crisis at 26, help!

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Hi everyone, I need some advice. Up until this evening I was convinced that I wanted to abandon my dream of pursuing medicine but after talking to some of you over the past few days I'm not entirely sure anymore. 

A bit about me and why I decided to give up in the first place. I'm 26 years old, I know people have started med much later so this isn't the issue. I've been applying to med school for 5 years, Ive done research, I did a master's degree in occupational therapy, I've got one year experience working as a licensed OT and am about to start my second year as a mental health OT. My stats themselves aren't anything to write home about, I had 3.92 GPA in undergrad and a 510 MCAT (126 CARS). My extracurriculars, experience as a healthcare professional and references however are quite strong. 

For 4 years I got rejection after rejection, I'd always tell myself that if I got an interview anywhere I'd make the most of it and get in. I'm confident that I would (A clinical masters and experience in a health care profession do wonders for your confidence). Finally I got an interview at Mac last year. I was ecstatic, this was my chance. Then Covid happened and it got cancelled. Then the lottery happened. 

I decided that it just wasn't in the cards for me and tried to just move on despite knowing I was guaranteed an interview next year at Mac. I'm getting married next year, I've got student loans to pay off and a ton of family responsibilities. I told myself a career in OT will be great, I still get to help people, i still get to make a difference every single day, and get paid a reasonable amount to do it. I get to spend a lot more time with my amazing wonderful wife-to-be and future family. It all seemed great. 

But day by day I get this little niggly feeling in the pits of my stomach knowing that I'm giving up on my dream, and that I still can change my mind and apply and interview and get into med school and realize my dream of being a doctor. But do I want to spend the first 3-4 years of my marriage as a med student, and then residency. 

There's just so much going on in my mind about what to do next and I would love some insight or advice from anyone that could provide some. 

Thanks in advance :)

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Hey there, there are many great things going on for you! Let's first not lose sight of that - you are now a licensed OT and you are starting a family. These are all great things. I understand where you are coming from in that you do not want to spend the first years of your marriage in medical school or in residency, but truth be told, you need to recognize that regardless of your age and life circumstances, your partner ends up "going" to medical school and residency with you anyway. They support you, they see your challenges, and they go through your struggles through the program, but just from a partner standpoint. Enjoying the first few years of marriage is one thing, but make sure you don't deter yourself so early on in the game, because even if you did go to med school let's say 2-3 years earlier, you and your wife would still be juggling residency (+ fellowship). You still have 3-4 decades of working life ahead of you! There simply isn't the best time to one thing to be honest - doing med school in your early 20s is the most convenient, sure - but end of the day, you need to make choices and choices that sit well with you. You will get old anyways, time will fly anyways. As long as your spouse is on board and supportive of your goals - and you both are willing to make it work - I don't think you need to throw in the towel just yet. 

We also wish "timing was a little better", but I also think that this moment is all we have, so make the most of it. There is no best time for anything. 

That said, there will be financial penalties - like lost income, opportunity cost, and your spouse may need to do some lifting in the interim (+ LOC debt). You and your spouse need to have an honest discussion about this, especially if you plan on having kids during medical school. There are many adjusted medical students who have families with kids. I am constantly so in awe at how able they are to cope with the demands of medical school - but hey, if there is a will, there is a way. 

The practical details are important, but just remember that time ticks away regardless, focus on what goals matter to you and your family :) 

Feel free to PM me. 

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Whenever non-trads on decent career tracks ask me if they should apply/reapply to med school, I tell them this:

The foundation to making this decision is to be as informed as possible about potential gains and losses of pursuing med school. Financially and otherwise. To make sure there are no blind spots.

Then, make a list of your non-negotiables, nice to haves, and deal-breakers in career and personal life. Be concrete and specific as possible. E.g. income above _____, flexibility, room for advancement, autonomy, remaining geographically close to family, spending lots of time with future kids, etc. Maybe go through this with your partner, since it's a team decision. Next go through your lists in each category and see whether they would apply medicine or the alternative career. The point of this is to make clear what YOUR priorities are and what YOU value. You've listed a bunch of reasons to not pursue med school and some reasons to continue, but without knowing the value you assign to each of those reasons, it's hard for anyone to give you useful advice.

Lastly, think long and hard on whether there are ways to achieve whatever you want to achieve/gain from medicine, in your OT career.

You'll get some responses telling you your life is already sweet don't bother, some will say if you put your mind to it it can be done! But the thing is, two people can be in the exact same situation with the same background, stats, family circumstances and one option can be the wrong choice for one and be the right one for the other because of different priorities.

I was an allied health professional too before med school, older than you. Applied 3 times to get in. But at the time it seemed like a no brainer to keep applying because medicine hit so many non-negotiables on my list and no deal breakers (or any deal breakers could be mitigated by pursuing FM, which I'm planning to do). Feel free to PM if you want to chat more. Good luck!

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