If you are considering taking on medical school and parenthood, remember that you're not alone. While there will be even more challenges to face than for traditional medical students, many physician-parents have had a baby during medical school before you and been successful. To read Part 1 of parenthood during med school, click here. What follows is Part 2 of one MomMD member's experience raising four children during medical school.
How do you manage your time between classes, rotations, and family?
I live by my calendar and to-do list, and I was lucky enough to marry an amazing man who keeps the "glue" together. We are truly a team with an eye on the long-term goal. I come from a family where few have completed college, and my husband's family has yet to see someone graduate from high school, so we are in a bit of uncharted territory in that respect. We have a family calendar for all appointments, events, and my current rotation schedule (as least as much as it is defined). Meals are planned out for the week. My husband makes the meals, does the laundry, and gets the three older kids to school, then works with our little one on the newest suggestions from her therapists.
I often leave before everyone is up, and one of my ways of staying connected with the kids on rotations with longer hours is through post-it notes. I leave messages saying I miss them, or asking them to leave me a list of things they want to do the next time I am off, or just a plain old message saying I love them. Then I leave it on the fridge so they can see it through their sleepy eyes first thing in the morning. At night, the kids go to sleep and I start studying again. It is hard, but working with patients is such a humbling and amazing honor, and having the wonderful, supportive family I do makes it all worth it. I am extremely happy in both facets of my life.
If I am completely honest, the thing that most often falls by the wayside is my own personal health. I can't remember the last time I had my hair cut, and I have an internal debate with myself every morning about the benefit of a two-mile run versus 30 minutes more sleep. The only reason I dragged myself into my own doctor recently was because they wanted to see me before refilling my migraine medications (a must when working long hours with poor sleep!). As much as I would like to push off those things, somehow I have to fit them in, as life will only get more complicated in residency and ultimately practice.
What advice would you give to other medical students who are considering having and raising a child or multiple children during medical school?
1) You need a partner/support system that is 1,000 percent on board. I cannot emphasize this point enough. If they are even slightly ambivalent, that needs to be cleared up before taking the plunge. They will be taking on most of the "house" work, the errand running, and still need to emotionally support you. Medical school is hard. Parenting is hard. The two together can be overwhelming without a counterbalance in place.
2) You must be at a family friendly school. Can it work at a school that would prefer to think women in medicine do not procreate? Sure, but it will be unnecessarily harder.
3) Organization and prioritization are key to the balancing act. And all-in-all just great skills to have in medicine.