Millennial In Medicine Lauren C. 4th Yr Medical Student
“It’s not that I think you’re going to fail, I know you are.” My genetics professor pulled me aside the first day of lectures. I was nine months pregnant, and she went out of her way to tell me I had no business being a mother and pre-medical student in her class.
Sadly, I had encountered similar experiences. Whether it was friends who said I was putting too much on my plate or my neighbor scolding me for choosing a career over my son, the message was the same -You cannot have a child and go to medical school.
But the thing is, you can.
In high school, I was captain of my cross country running team, a prefect, and straight-A student. I ultimately went on to attend one of the top Universities in Canada. Yet, without knowing my background or capabilities, it seemed even strangers unanimously decided I was out of touch to tackle motherhood and a medical degree. While I respected that people had their own opinions, I was not about to forget my own. I encourage you the same.
The best advice I could give any parent interested in medicine is to gauge your own potential and desires before agreeing to others’ interpretation of them. This career will be challenging regardless of your background. The difference is that the additional hurdles you face may ultimately teach you to handle medicine better than your peers. Furthermore, this is your life, not your professor’s, best friend’s or neighbor’s.
In medical school, I found my own version of balance. As a single parent, I set small goals for myself each day and learned how to finish my work early. This gave me time to volunteer, publish research, and care for my son and myself. While everyone was recuperating from 10 hour study days or an unpleasantly long rotation, my personal obligations motivated me to keep working. I became so organized that I mapped out my day by the hour. Even when things did not go according to plan, I learned to be resourceful enough to find other means to honor my commitments.
Here I am, four years later, and I have climbed the mountain I was told was too high. If I could change anything, I would advocate for more resources for parents in medical school. We are a small minority, and that is in part due to social and financial limitations. Regardless of our modest representation, this career is more than possible, and your ambition to become a physician should never be considered too great.