Dear Mothers in Medicine,
I was so excited to have found this blog! What an inspiration! I'm a 4th year medical student with a busy little 12 month old. My husband is wonderfully supportive and great at stepping up and taking care of our son when my schedule gets crazy. To be honest, when I first found out I was pregnant I would have never thought that med school + a baby would be so doable (ridiculously hard at times, but totally doable). Sure, there were many times when I was ridiculously sleep deprived and didn't get to see my husband or baby awake for a day or two. And sure, there were several times where I spent my pumping session crying in addition to stuffing a sandwich into my mouth as quickly as possible. But I did it, and I *think* I did it well. I don't mind anonymously tooting my own horn on this one because I'm darn proud. This past year has confirmed that I'm on the right track-I love being a mom, and I love being in medicine!
I am now preparing to apply to residency positions. As much as I tried to like a field with more potential for control over my schedule (peds, PM&R, pathology?), I realized that I would never be satisfied if there wasn't a significant amount of OR time in my future. I even almost let a few of my attendings talk me into going into general surgery, but in the end I decided that my passion is for OB/Gyn. I'm struggling with this decision because of the many hours/days that I know I'm signing myself up to spend away from my family. My husband tells me that I can always quit and be a SAHM, but that is not my calling and I know it. I'm already feeling guilty about putting my career in front of my family and now I'm faced with the decision of whether to disclose in my applications that my family even exists! I've been told that when selecting residents, if two applicants are otherwise equal, they will pick the one without commitments outside of the hospital. It's illegal, of course, to base decisions on these factors, but it's undeniable that it happens.
I think I've decided to leave any mention of my family out of my personal statement, but there are many other areas in the application process where this information could potentially come out. There are two different areas for explaining any breaks and extensions of the normal 4 year track. I took a LOA after I had my baby. Do I just say I took a medical leave and not explain? Is this a red flag? (Is this going to happen again? What if it was a psychiatric reason and she's unstable? Etc) I have heard of people bringing their kids/spouses to interview dinners. Do I leave them behind? Not talk about them? Hide my wedding ring? How far do I take this? It just feels wrong to hide the two most important and influential people in my life. I used to think that if a residency program doesn't want me because of my family, then I don't want them. However, in an increasingly competitive market, it may be naive and foolish of me to sabotage myself by disclosing personal information that won't even potentially benefit me. It just all feels wrong.