The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

June 28, 2013

Watercooler: Should med school dream be deferred?

Q: I've always wanted to become a doctor, but just getting me and my siblings through college left my family strapped for money. Long story short, I graduated with a loan balance that prohibited me from obtaining my diploma and my transcripts, which I need to apply to med school. I've spent two years paying that off.

A few months ago, I was hired at a prestigious institution offering invaluable medical and research experience. It's a great job for someone with my interests; I work with surgeons every day. The institution likes its employees to verbally commit to staying two years. I was initially fine with that, because I didn't expect to be able to apply to med school this year.

However, a fortuitous turn of events has allowed me to pay off my balance in full (though not all my school loans) and obtain a transcript. I could apply to school this summer, in time for the 2014 term. After the struggle it took to even get to this point, the idea of putting off school another year pains me.

My problem is the two-year job commitment. Unfortunately, medical school is usually an all-or-nothing deal; most med students can't work while attending school.

Everyone says in this economy you have to do what's best for you, but my honor means a lot to me.

A: Honor is all well and good, but my thoughts on this have more to do with pragmatism.

Of course you have to do what's best for you, but "what's best" may mean finding your professional and financial footing first. The experience and referrals you stand to gain from your job should set you apart from younger, greener applicants. Also, don't discount the awesomeness of simply being employed; it might allow you to sock away some mattress money.

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