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I am 22 and single. I have no aspirations to be a mother anytime soon. Washing, feeding and clothing myself seems enough of a challenge at times, let alone having that responsibility for another person. But the age at which people are planning to have children is something that is discussed. Most medical students I know, like me, like to plan ahead.
They know where the next few years of their life are going: the end of medical school, foundation year 1, foundation year 2, choose a specialty and work to be a consultant or GP.
So why wouldn't you at least think about the other side of your future — the non-academic, family side? This, for a lot of people, includes having children.
But assuming you have met someone you would like to have children with (which is a challenge in itself), your bank balance won’t be fantastic straight out of university.
I don’t know how much junior doctors earn, but with student loans to pay back and bills, rent and additional costs such as council tax mounting up, it is fair to say it would be a few years before most medics would be in a financial position to start a family. You could easily be in your 30s by the time you can even consider it.
I personally blame the female body's inability to adapt quickly enough to the fact that our lives have changed so much.
Graduating, getting a job, finding a partner and financial stability all take time, and unfortunately our bodies haven’t kept up with these social changes.
In my case, I will be at university for three years longer than the average student and will therefore enter the job market three years later. I will then be working as a foundation doctor for two years before applying for specialty training.
This doesn’t seem like the ideal time to be thinking about having children but if I wait until I am a consultant, I might be risking my fertility, and if I have children before becoming a consultant then I risk my career. Catch 22.
I know I have painted quite a bleak picture but this wasn’t my intention. These musings are based on discussions I have had with other people in the same boat as me.
In reality I don’t see many women who, by my definition, 'have it all'. In the real world, I see 50:50 or 100:0, by which I mean work is OK family is OK, but neither are great, or work is great but family is non-existent or vice versa. I want 100:100 but I have yet to figure out how to achieve this — and I don’t think I’m the only one.
Salma Aslam is a medical student at Bristol University
Read the BMA's guidance for working parents
My advise pray lots and don't worry. It's important to get all your exams out of the way- that includes medical exams and speciality exams. Then you will have a better chance to cope with balancing life with work. There is no reason not to get married during this period if you have a supportive understanding husband (and packaged free family). Its best not to buy a house at same time as having children unless your other half can take care of both and is more than financially secure. There's no reason why you should worry about fertility or put your career above being a woman who was designed have children. It may be tougher leaving children when working nights and weekend and late shifts so choose your specialty wisely unless you intend to not mother the children after bearing them much and diffusing your responsibility to the other half or family or nursery. It's a tough one. No one can take on your maternal instincts than you. You will lose out more than your career. Depends on if your taking on the bread winner role and the other half taking on the traditional mother role. Diffusion of roles isn't always the best of things. All the best