As a non-traditional pre-med who is also a wife and mother, and has a host of other titles, I sometimes look at myself and say “what are you doing?” Since starting on this journey to medical school the road has been bumpy to say the least. From paying tuition entirely out of pocket before I was able to get financial aid, to dropping classes and having to retake physics, I can proudly say I am still here. However, there is one question that lingers in my mind. No, it’s not if I still want to be a doctor or why I’m doing this, rather, it’s “how do I balance all of the hats that I wear?”
As a non-traditional student, my life experiences are sometimes vastly different from other students. For example, I don’t just schedule classes based on my interest in them, I truly have to map it out. I have to make sure that each class fits with my work schedule and other responsibilities. I work as a scheduling coordinator for an imaging center three days a week and take classes during the other two, so I have to balance both class and work each week. At home I alternate housework and cooking with my husband (who is working on a Master’s degree) and spend time with my daughter and my husband—all while keeping up with my school work. I am 100% committed to everything that I do and I truly want to be successful in all areas of my life but it’s not easy.
Since becoming a physician is a marathon not a sprint, there are a many times when I temporarily feel like giving up. There are times when I cry, when I don’t think that I can do this, or that I’m taking away too much time from being a wife and a mother. When this happens, I remember why I initially started this. Because it’s my purpose and somebody’s daughter or son is waiting for me to be their pediatrician. As I was talking to my husband about this, what I realized is that balance is important, but there are also other key factors such as belief, faith and validation. No matter how many people believe in you, or are rooting you on and saying you can do this, you have to believe that you can do this yourself.
I’ve come to realize that among the most important things to remember in life is knowing how to adapt and knowing that you are enough. You have to believe that no matter what, you are not defined by your GPA or your MCAT score. As a non-traditional student I have worked as a barista, substitute teacher, bank teller, office administrator, unit clerk on a trauma unit, and now I am a schedule coordinator for an imaging center. I have interacted with people from many different walks of life and I believe that helps to make me a well-rounded person—the kind of physician I would want.
It feels unreal that next year is the year I will apply to medical school and sit for the MCAT exam. I am excited and nervous about the process of applying. I am excited because I am one year closer to my dream and nervous because I want to make sure everything is just right. There are several scriptures that I turn to when I feel discouraged or exhausted but one that really resonates with me and tells me exactly what I’m supposed to do is Galatians 6:9, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up”. This is a long and challenging road but in the end all of the hard work, dedication, tears, frustration, and all the sacrifice of time that I have made will be worth it. I just have to keep putting in the work. So for those non-traditional dad and mom future doctors, keep going!
Sincerely, Pre-Med Mytosha
About Mytosha Dickerson
Mytosha is from New Orleans, LA and graduated from LSU in 2011 with a bachelor’s in communication studies. She recently got married will be attending the University of New Orleans to complete her prerequisites to apply for medical school for the fall 2019 admissions cycle. She hopes to volunteer at some of the local hospitals and will be shadowing a Hem-OC doctor at Children’s Hospital. She has been very lucky to have the support of her husband and family.