22.08.2014

Having a baby during 3rd year med school

After two years of the predictable life of lectures, textbooks, and exams, the students are plunged into the world of actual clinical medicine, where patients and their illnesses rarely go by the book.
And as soon as students have figured out the ins and outs of the electronic medical record system, the names of the social workers, and where the bathrooms are, they are shipped off to the next rotation—in a different place, with a different medical team, with different patients, with different expectations, and often an entirely new computer system to battle with. Every four to eight weeks, the students are whisked through a new world: surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics-gynecology, psychiatry, neurology, pediatrics, and outpatient medicine. Students are not just learning medicine during the third year of medical school; they are learning how to be doctors. It’s no wonder that the third year of medical school figures prominently in studies that document the decline of empathy and moral reasoning in medical trainees. Of course it is not all misery and cynicism; third-year medical students gain immense knowledge, and many find positive role models. The average smartphone, after all, can access reams of medical facts more quickly and probably more accurately than our trusty neurons.
That said, I think having a baby during residency was a good experience in many ways and I obviously do not regret it.
I am not talking about the first day of internship (though that also happens on July 1), but the monumental transition that medical students make at the halfway point of medical school from the classroom years to the clinical years. One would think that the third year of medical school would be a crowning achievement—the donning of the white coat, the grasping of the golden ring after many years of striving. Complications, drug interactions, patient idiosyncrasies, medical errors, insurance issues, and emergencies keep life frenetic.


But the beginnings of clinical medicine should be a time of awe and enthrallment, not a time of hardening. But to ignore the seismic emotional experiences of medical training risks chipping away at the very qualities that distinguish great physicians from the merely competent.
The most recent revolution occurred in 1910, when Abraham Flexner issued a scathing report on the lack of scientific standards in American medical education.
A small but burgeoning field of research suggests that these emotions profoundly affect what kind of doctors these students become and the quality of medical care they can give to their patients. Clinical exposure is being introduced earlier, mixing in with the classroom part of medical school.
Since then, rigorous biomedical education has appropriately been the basis of medical school. One of my attendings during medical school told me that her biggest regret was waiting until after her training to have her children. In the midst of this are the greenhorn medical students, acutely aware of their lack of practical skills to do anything of use. Some schools, such as the University of California, San Francisco, and Harvard, are reworking the third year altogether, attempting to integrate all the clerkships into a yearlong coherent clinical experience. Not one person had to ever cover for me during pregnacy, maternity leave or post-pregnancy. I took and passed my board 3 weeks after baby#2 having to breasfeed 3 times all night prior to exam and pump twice during the exam.


What a great job is medicine, which will take its pound of flesh and a bit more if you let it. Medicine fulfils intellectual and alturistic puzzle pieces that lead to a purposeful full life, and so does balancing that with having cheeky monkeys and having a small hand in shaping another little person(how important). I am now 32 and in my second year of practice and we have been trying to conceive a third for the past year without success.
I have been diagnosed with unexplained secondary infertility and despite rounds of clomid and IUI, still no 3rd baby. Personally, I want to finish having kids while I'm relatively young so that I can enjoy my family and the rest of my life and career without the stress of wanting a child and the difficulties that come along with that at an older age. As was said earlier, there is no perfect time to have a baby; and we do need to change the medical industry to be more mom-friendly. I am an undergrad planning to attend medical school in a couple of years, but the idea of having kids at that time just seems crazy.
In med school, unlike in residency, I would not get ANY paid time off and I really hope to take advantage of unique experiences like doing medical electives abroad. Heck, I am a little jealous of my high school friends who had a kid or two by the time I was ready to begin my junior yr of college!



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