Medical students balance school, clinicals, family and second jobs

Balancing work and family can be tricky, but two medical students working at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital for their clinical rotations are splitting time between school, work, family and sometimes another job.

"Sometimes it's a rat race," says Vernon Horst.

If you're married and you have a family and you go to school, it's not just you going to school but it's you and your family, says James Wallace.

Both Wallace and Horst are third year medical students at the Medical College of Georgia; they are also both fathers of multiple children. As medical students, they often spend time away from their wives and children.

I've done rotations in Tifton, Cordele and Thomasville so we have housing at those places so sometimes I'm away from my family for a couple days at a time or even a week or two at a time, says Horst.

Horst and Wallace begin their day at Phoebe at 7 a.m. and leave around 5 p.m. Some days the hours begin earlier and end later. Wallace says he has worked shifts that begin as early as 5:30 a.m. and end as late as 10 p.m.

The hours can be pretty bad but you have to make sure you have constant contact, taking time just to send a text to your wife and when you get a moment call your kids, he says.

As if he already had very little time to spend with his wife and children " ages five and 12 -- Wallace even picked up an extra job to help pay the bills.

Up until this last month I was working once a month going back to savannah working there as a physician's assistant, says Wallace.

At the end of a long day, Horst and Wallace say their wives help pull the family together again.

Horst says when he returns home, his wife updates him on the day TMs goings-on.

We try to run the rest of the evening as a team. Thanks to her, the children are always happy to see me and running out to my car and trying to be the first one there, says Horst.

Horst and Wallace agree it takes teamwork within their family to get through the crazy schedule: It TMs just one of many life lessons they learn as medical students.

You just have to remember there are people that do this for a living. When you get out of school, when you're practicing as a physician life doesn't get any easier. They're still busy, they're still working long hours so this is sort of life training, says Horst.

When it comes to school and family, they say sometimes they have to neglect their studies because they say their families come before school.

As several of the physicians here have told me, 'Only you can be the dad and the father and the husband to your family; a lot of people can be a doctors, TM says Wallace.