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Carolyn Hax: Med school beckons over fiance’s wishes

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 24, 2010

Dear Carolyn: I gave up med school because my fiance was scared of the massive debt and uncertainty about where we live. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was young; now how do I stop resentment from creeping in? Thanks! – Sacrifice is worth it??

You pre-empt resentment by finding another vocation-plus-life- purpose combination that’s as appealing to you as being a doctor, or more.

If a good-faith effort to find a new calling comes up empty, then you tell your fiance you made a mistake and would like to pursue a career in medicine.

It’s not only possible, but also necessary, to factor his concerns into your decisions without giving up a large part of who you are.

That is, unless your fiance is asking too much. You have to consider that possibility; hoping it will go away just means you’ll have a bigger problem to deal with later. If he sees himself as your true life partner, then he won’t want you to sacrifice your identity in service of his sense of security.

And with that in mind, please do some research, if you haven’t already, on ways to get a medical education that don’t involve crushing debt; the National Health Service Corps comes immediately to mind (, as does training to become a physician assistant. The military is also a path to a paid medical education, if your fiance is willing to buy financial security for the price of about as much geographic uncertainty as a career path can offer.

This is not a comprehensive list – your undergraduate college’s career office is a good place to start for that – but instead an argument against capitulation. It’s not your only option, and arguably not a viable one for a healthy marriage.

E-mail Carolyn at, or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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