I have received quite a few questions about my daily schedule and how I handle medical school as a single parent, so this will be my attempt to answer them. Since the beginning of orientation week, I have had my wonderful guy here helping me out, so the adjustment has not been too bad so far. With that being said, I always have a plan B, so in addition to my current schedule, I will put what my schedule would be if I had absolutely no help at all. This way, you all can get an idea of how manageable everything is (at least for the first two years, anyway). ***Not too long after writing this post, I had to implement my plan B, so also see my follow up post HERE***
How do you get both you and your daughter ready and to school in the morning?
The picture above represents my schedule for this week. As you can see, I start class at 8am and either finish at 5 or 6 depending on the day. For those of you considering GA-PCOM, be aware that the elementary schools in the county do not run on the same time schedule. I believe this is because they have so many students (my daughter’s school has over 1600 students), so the buses need to be able to handle the load. Some schools will start as early 8:15 and others as late as 8:50. I got lucky in that my daughter’s school starts at the early time, and her bus arrives to pick her up around 7:15 every morning. This gives me enough time to get her ready and on to the bus first, and then focus on myself and make it to class by 8. I was also lucky enough to find a place that is literally a 30 second drive from the school, so I do not have to worry about traffic times in the morning (which are pretty brutal in my area).
What do you do with your daughter when she gets out of school?
Like I previously mentioned, my S.O. currently gets her from the school bus and helps her with her homework before I make it home in the evening. If I did not have him here to do this, she would be in an after-school care program. Unfortunately, for her school, there is not one available on-site, but I was given a list of about 20 programs that provide bus transportation from the elementary schools to their location. These run about $75-100/week and go until 6:30pm. If you provide a letter from the provider to GA-PCOM, they will increase your cost of attendance so that you can get more loans to cover everything. I’m pretty sure other schools will do the same, but don’t quote me on that.
How do you find time to study?
From 6-8pm every day, I do absolutely no studying. This gives me time to talk to my daughter, make dinner, get her ready for bed, and do anything else parent- or relaxation-related. At 8pm, she is on a strict bed-time schedule, and I study until midnight. I am a night-owl so this works best for me, but for those who aren’t, you can always adjust it to go to sleep early and wake up around 4am.
Do you have to attend every class?
For the time being, I attend every class, but only the labs and guest lecturers are mandatory. GA-PCOM does record the majority (but not all) of its lectures, although some professors will pause the lecture recording at times to give hints to those in class. I learn best from reading the texts and writing out notes, and I found that listening to the recorded lectures at 1.5x speed really helps at night. Therefore, I may end up skipping a few lectures to read through and learn the material in the library, and then I can reinforce the material later on in the evening by streaming the recorded lectures at home. Either way, I am on campus all day, but I will get more hours of studying done versus zoning out during lecture time. I would be too tempted to sleep in if I did not go to campus, so even if I decide to not go the lecture, I still plan on going to the library or one of the study rooms.
What about weekends?
My Saturdays will probably be split between at-home studying and anatomy lab on campus. My daughter is pretty used to my busy schedule, so she usually leaves me alone for a few hours. If I did not have my guy helping me, then I would already have found somebody from care.com who had a pretty good availability to come if needed. I also do have family about 45 minutes away from me, so in a true emergency, I could probably drop her off for the day.
On Sundays, I do NOT study at all. I made a promise a long time ago that I would give myself a breather one day a week, and it is really important to me to bond with my daughter at this time. Sundays are pretty much mommy-daughter days, and I plan on keeping it that way (although I may alternate with Saturdays at times). This keeps her happy, and gives me less of the mommy-guilt. GA-PCOM also has a break every day at 12pm that coincides with my daughter’s lunch, so I may eat lunch with her from time to time if I feel she is starting to miss me more.
I hope this answers everyone’s questions, but if not just send me a message. I can also ask my other classmates about their experiences if you would like to know something a bit more specific or relatable (i.e. raising a toddler or infant in medical school). The first two years are a pretty set schedule, so medical school if definitely doable with or without help as a single parent. My daughter is also school-aged and I have been raising her by myself without help since she was a toddler, so I think it does come a bit easier for me, and I can manage with or without someone around. There are also more than a handful of other parents in my class (both single and married) with children ranging from infants to teenagers, and they seem to be adapting just fine, so please do not think that medical school is impossible if you are a parent (single or otherwise).