Thursday, December 4, 2008

Guest Post: In the round and then for real

We held a fantastic event at our medical school Wednesday night. We were a little disappointed in the student turn out, but otherwise, it was wonderful. We had a panel of eight female physicians speaking about being a woman in medicine. Seven of the eight are mothers, so there was a lot of discussion about pregnancy, babies and family. I was happy with the diversity of our panel. We had one Chinese doctor, a few Hispanics, a lesbian (who humorously advised us to wait until menopause and then let our partner carry the baby), a few Jewish doctors, and only two WASPs like me. Unfortunately, the two black doctors (I don’t like the term African American, which rarely applies to the frequently Caribbean born blacks in South Florida) who we invited were not able to attend, and neither were the Indian doctors. We are blessed with a diverse pool of professors and physicians associated with our school.

I wish we videotaped or had transcripts of the discussion. We got great advice, from having a fire drill-like plan of what to do if we get groped by a patient or a fellow physician (which has happened to members of the panel), to how to answer (or not answer) illegal questions in interviews about how soon we were planning on getting pregnant, how to manage when our kids are sick, and other wonderful bits of information and experience.

The next morning, I was driving 4 year old Z to school. He was sitting next to the big contraption the catering company rented to me to keep the food warm for the event. He was confused, somehow thinking it was for me to bring food to the people at the hospital. I explained to him that I was still in school to learn to be a doctor, then I would go to the hospital to help people.

Z paused for a second and then asked, thoughtfully, “When you are a doctor and you go to the doctor place, will you still be my mommy?”

“Yes,” I said. “I will always be your mommy.”

“Will you still come home to me?”

Oh, kid, you’re killing me. “Yes, I will still come home to you.” In my head, I was thinking, sometimes, during residency, it may seem like I don’t. But I will always come home, eventually. When all the babies are born, all the sutures are closed, all the cases are presented, I will come home. And I will try to find out about your homework and listen to you and hug you and kiss you before I collapse into bed.

Mom TFH is one of the oldest people at her medical school. The other students learn from her various valuable life experieces: as a pizza delivery driver, a Denny's waitress, an art major, a health food store manager, a purple haired punk, a natural supplement researcher, a midwifery student, and a mother. She has two boys and is married to a public elementary school PE coach. Going to med school just didn't keep her away from them enough, so she is doing a dual degree (D.O./M.P.H.), is the president of the ob/gyn interest club, and applied for a research fellowship.


  1. What a great opportunity for you! I'm a non-traditional student who was just accepted to medical school. Like you, I'm a mother and I will be one of the oldest students in my class when I start this fall. I'm always looking for advice for how to make it through the next seven years with my family happy, healthy, and secure.

  2. Fabulous Mothers-in-Medicine insight from a student, no less! I hope you'll post here now and then during residency and let us know how it is going.

  3. Thanks for the warm welcome!

    I love reading this blog, and I am so tickled to be guest blogging here.

  4. It's interesting to me that your classmates try to learn from your previous life experiences. Mine don't.

    I used to go to these panel discussions for women in medicine, but stopped about a year ago because I felt like I was having my gender crammed down my throat, and that feeling that way was counterproductive to having a successful career. I guess I prefer to think of myself as a "person" rather than a "woman" first. Doing otherwise has always made me feel less adept.

  5. I prefer to look at it as embracing my gender rather than having it forced down my throat. I think planning ahead for the realities of sexism and motherhood (for most women physicians, not all) may make someone more successful in her career, and have a hard time seeing how it could make her less successful.

    It's definitely not something that everyone will be passionately interested in, I just have a hard time seeing it having disadvantages.


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