Having a child while still in residency or medical school

Choosing to have a child while in medical school or residency is a difficult decision to make. Entering into the medical profession and raising a kid both take a lot of effort. The average age of a medical student or resident usually ranges from mid 20’s to mid 30’s. This age also coincides with the most popular time to have a baby. Many of my friends while in medical school or residency decided to have children. This post is a result of their comments and includes their recommendations for what they wish they would have known before having a baby while in training.


Who Will Spend Time With The Child During The Day

Medical school, residency, and fellowship leave little time for activities beyond work. Before having a child, try to discus who will be spending time with the child during the day. Be realistic and know that the person who is in training will most likely not be able to dedicate the numerous hours needed to stay home with a child in the early years. If no one can be home during the day to look after the baby, will daycare be used or will family help? If both individuals are doctors or doctors in training, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Plenty of dual income families (including doctors in training) have children and manage just fine. The only difference is that there may need to be additional planning to accommodate busy schedules.

Can You Afford To Have A Child

According to parenting.com, the average cost of raising a baby is about $13,000 a year. If daycare is in the picture, add-on a potential $12,000 a year. Take a look at your budget to see how the budget will change post child. Realize that depending on your income and budget, there may have to be some sacrifices. As one of my friends discussed with me, their going out budget dramatically decreased post baby. This drop in spending was offset by an increase in spending on  diapers and baby food.  If a baby is planned in medical school the same can be said about the budget with student loans as temporary income.


Obtain The Right Insurance For Your Family

In the event that a couple is raising a baby and one of them becomes seriously injured, its important to have protection so they child is affected as little as possible. Life changing events such as getting married, divorced, buying an expensive asset, or having a baby are all good times to reevaluate your current insurance needs. Figure out what kind of insurance your family will need. Some types of insurance that should be considered post child are disability insurance, term life insurance, and health insurance.


Diapers Are Expensive, But Childcare Is More Expensive

Discussed above but this deserves its own section. Daycare alone can cost above $1,000 a month in certain parts of the country. There will be times when a child needs a babysitter or potentially someone to stay overnight if both individuals have a 24 hour call the same night. Discuss the plan who will help and how much extended family will be involved. Once the child gets older, who will be taking them to school in the morning or making breakfast? Set expectations early for what each person envisions occurring when these events arise.


Prioritize The Child And Their Experiences

While in training, the hours can be very long and tiring. However, as children enter school its important to make it to special events. Be there for those special events to the best of your ability and know that you may have to ask someone to cover your shift in order to make it work. Most people are friendly and willing to cover shifts. Don’t be afraid to speak up so that you don’t miss many of their important milestones.


There May Be A Pull To Stay Home

One respondent discussed how after having a child her desire to be a doctor was completely absent. She felt like her only focus was the baby, and as a result talked with her program director to ask for a break. She describes a welcoming program director who let her take a year off from residency while she spent more time with her baby and new family. This program, like all others, had a maternity leave in place but she felt like she needed more time. Be honest about your feelings and needs with your program. Odds are, you won’t be the first person to ask for some sort of accommodation. Be sure at the end of the day you’re happy with your decision and how you’re living your life.


This Will Be The Best Change Of Your Life

Everyone who replied to give advise for this post all pointed out how children were the greatest blessing in their life. It’s easy to focus on the numbers, budget, and worry about time spent with the baby. However, growing a family and having children can be one of the most rewarding things for a couple. Don’t lose sight of experiences and people that are important along the way.


Thank you to everyone that contributed to this post, I appreciate your insight. Do you have any other tips for medical students or residents for having children while still in training?

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