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Is it wise to pursue medical school if I desire to marry?

I want to get married and start a family, but that would be hard to do as a med student. I've already wasted my 20s and don't want to waste my 30s as well.


Several years ago, I started medical school, but had a terrible start and ended up dropping out after the first year. I was going through some personal problems at the time, and things just did not work out the way I had planned.

I’ve considered going back, but now that I am in my 30s, I don’t know if that would be wise. I want to get married and start a family, but that would be hard to do as a med student. On the other hand, the support of a family and having priorities other than the next exam could also be an advantage in school.

For the last few years, I’ve been running my dad’s business. It’s not something I want to do for the rest of my life, and I’m struggling with what to do. In a way, I feel stuck in my current job because my dad is not in a position where he can come back, and so I feel responsible to keep this going.

My dad and I have talked about selling the business, but this is not a good economy to try to do that. I feel like I need to hang on long enough to either sell or find someone who can run the business and train them, but the longer I wait, the harder it will be to go back to school. I know that if God’s plan is for me to become a doctor, He will work out the details. At this point, I guess I am struggling with what His plan is for me.

My main question is, would it be a good idea to pursue something so consuming if I have a desire to get married? As far as marriage is concerned, I’ve already wasted my 20s and don’t want to waste my 30s as well.


First about medical school and to get right to your question: I don’t think medical school and marriage are as exclusive as you think they might be. There would obviously be more challenges for a female student, mostly because of the potential for pregnancy, but many couples have married before or during medical school, and even started their families, and have done just fine.

Yes, there are challenges, finances and time being the top two, but you would experience many of those same challenges no matter what career or educational path you chose.

The key is for a guy and girl to have a clear understanding of the kind of demands that any chosen vocation path requires. Some jobs require more travel; some require strange hours; some require frequent moves. It all just depends on what both the husband and wife have the grace for at each season of their marriage.

If you sense you have a call on your life that requires medical school, and you know you desire marriage, then God will give you the grace for both should they coincide. As demanding as medical school is, men and women still seem to find time for marriage and parenting in the midst of it. Love has a way of helping us rise to a level we didn’t know we could, even though the path is hard.

If I were you I’d be much more concerned about what happens after medical school. Depending on your field of specialty, medical school could be only the beginning of the time-demand challenge. The only thing just as hectic, if not more than hectic, as medical school is medical life.

But again, if that’s the direction God seems to be leading, He’ll give you the grace and wisdom to do it in a way that brings Him glory and you good. Just know the time-demand issue is always there, no matter your career. Every married couple has to work that out ’til death does them part.

As to the issue of feeling stuck in operating your dad’s business, that’s almost too subjective for me to give any real specific advice, but I will say this: Don’t put more pressure on yourself than necessary. Often we think it would break our parents’ heart to move in a certain direction, when the reality is that they don’t want to hold us back. Most parents want their child’s happiness more than the child wants their own happiness.

My advice would be for you and your father to think through a reasonable time-line for transitioning out of the business and into school and everything that would need to happen during that time, including training someone to take your place (or selling the business if that becomes an option). Give enough time (a year or less seems reasonable) for him to be comfortable with it, then start the process.

Such a plan allows you to move forward with God’s direction for your life in a way that honors your father. Do it with humility, and God will provide the grace. That’s His promise.



Copyright 2010 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

John Thomas

John Thomas has been a Boundless contributor since its beginning in 1998. He and his wife, Alfie, have three children and live in Arkansas, where he serves as executive director of Ozark Camp and Conference Center, a youth camp and retreat center.


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