This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with med school applicants and students. And now for a follow up interview with Allie, a third-year med student at University of Louisville School of Medicine. We first met Allie two years ago – you can read our first interview with her here.)
Accepted: Last we spoke, you had just completed your first year of med school. Can you bring us up to speed? How’s M3 so far?
Allie: M3 year is off to a great start and I love it! Transitioning from the classroom to the wards was a big adjustment at first as I learned to balance working long hours with finding adequate study time along with spending time with my growing family.
One of the things I love about medical school in Louisville is that there are several hospitals within the city where we train, so we gain exposure to a wide variety of practice types, EMRs, and patient populations. The learning opportunities have been outstanding so far – I’ve seen really rare cases, gained experience with working with refugees, and worked in a Trauma I center all within the first semester of third year.
I’ve completed my Internal Medicine and Surgery rotations so far, and am currently on my elective time, which consists of four weeks of different pediatric subspecialties that I’m enjoying so much!
The best parts so far have been getting to know my patients (a few of them have even given me nicknames, which I hope means they liked me!), and even getting to perform procedures (under supervision and guidance, of course).
Accepted: What is your favorite thing so far about the University of Louisville School of Medicine?
Allie: It’s really hard to think of just one thing, but I have to say that our administration and student affairs professionals have gone well above and beyond my expectations. For example, during my surgery rotation, my father-in-law died unexpectedly. My Advisory Dean heard about our tragedy and sent my family a sympathy card. It’s that kind of personal touch that I have been so grateful for in my time at ULSOM. The people here are extraordinary and are always eager to help students with whatever situations arise.
Accepted: If you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?
Allie: There actually isn’t much that I would change about the program itself. It is refreshing to know that when changes need to be made, our administration not only listens to our concerns but acts on them nearly immediately. That’s another thing I love about my school and this program.
However, I do wish there were more opportunities for those with families to have increased involvement on campus. My husband sometimes jokes that my friends must be imaginary, since he hasn’t met many of them.
A classmate and I have discussed creating a group for those of us with families to go out together to enjoy local attractions like the Louisville Zoo, to strengthen our campus’ inclusion of med student parents and spouses.
Accepted: Last time, you had said you were interested in pediatrics. Has that changed? Now that you have a child (congrats!), has your view on peds been altered?
Allie: I’m trying to keep an open mind when it comes to deciding what specialty I’ll apply to next fall, but I am definitely still planning on somehow incorporating pediatrics into my future career. I’m currently entertaining Peds, Med-Peds and Peds-Medical Genetics as possibilities.
I love working with kids of all ages and now that I’m a parent, I feel like I understand parental concerns much better than I did before. Working in pediatrics for me is just plain fun, and so I think that option is the specialty that is winning with me currently.
Accepted: How have you managed juggling motherhood and med school? Do you have any tips for others who may be in a similar situation?
Allie: Juggling is definitely the right word to describe it. Being a mother these days is tough. Every aspect of motherhood abounds with criticism, especially when it comes to whether or not the mother works. I do not come from a physician family. When we told our families that we were expecting, the first thing I heard was, “Will you stay in school?” It is heartbreaking to know that family and friends – the same people that cheered and celebrated my medical school acceptance – are now the same ones telling me that I’m not a good mom if I have a career.
However, I am a person with hobbies and interests, in addition to also being a wife and mother. I need aliquots of time to dedicate to each of my priorities. I have found that by making time for all of the things that I enjoy in life, not only am I happier but my family is too.
When second year began, I was the mom of an 8-week old that was still waking up a couple of times every night. It took a lot of trial and error, and I doubted my decision to continue pursuing my education without a break, but we finally found a schedule that worked for all three of us.
The biggest thing was finding a schedule so that I had plenty of time to study and be a good student so that when I came home, I could play with my daughter and have quality time with my husband without worrying about school responsibilities.
Currently, I write a column for in-Training.org called Cheerios and Stethoscopes about my life as a med student mom, that it could be a voice of hope for others in the same situation or for those who are considering starting a family while in training.
For me, coming home after a long day to a happy child that wants to play is a perfect stress reliever that reminds me that there is life outside of medicine. At one point in my life I thought it was impossible to have two callings, but I have found that being a successful medical student and new mother simultaneously is, in fact, compatible.
Accepted: How was the Pediatric Externship Program last summer?
Allie: My daughter decided to come a bit early, right at the beginning of the externship program, so I was not able to participate in this program. I was really disappointed to not be able to participate in the program, but in the end I was glad I had a longer ‘maternity leave’ to spend with my daughter.
Accepted: How’s your blog going? Can you direct us to 2-3 of your favorite posts?
Allie: I don’t get to post as often as I’d like, but when something comes to me, I try to jot down a quick post, especially if I think it might help others now or in the future. I’ve started a series of posts using the AAMC Careers in Medicine clinical rotation evaluation form to track what I thought about each rotation and elective during 3rd year as I narrow down my specialty choice. I still try to write fun posts about stuff outside of medicine, like our family vacation after Step 1.
A few posts:
• Rotation: Cardiology (Internal Medicine Subspecialty)
• Day 6: Grand Tetons and Bear Encounter at Jenny Lake
To read more about Allie’s journey, check out her blog Paging Dr. Allie. Thank you Allie for continuing to share your story!
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