Best of Both Worlds podcast: Growing your family during medical school

Medicine can be a great career. But many women struggle with figuring out when in medical training to start their families.

Today’s Best of Both Worlds podcast guest, Marlise Pierre-Wright, recently had her first child as a medical student at Northwestern University. Since she’s a “non-traditional” student (read: a few years older than the average) she knew these time lines would overlap. In this episode, she and Sarah discuss this decision, what she has learned, and her advice for other people contemplating a medical career.

Please give the episode a listen, and as always, we welcome ratings and reviews wherever you listen to podcasts!

6 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Growing your family during medical school

  1. I’m looking forward to listening to this episode! I’m in a dual degree MD/MPH program, so my training is already a year longer than just doing an MD, and I’ve recently discovered I’m interested in a field that would require 7 years of graduate medical education (4 years of residency + 3 years of fellowship). I’ll likely be in my mid-30s before I’m even starting my “real” career and would like to have my first child well before then, so I’m looking forward to the advice in this episode!

    1. @Jara In addition to today’s episode, a year ago I was on BoBW talking about having kids during medical training. It is linked above. I had children in med school, residency, fellowship and after joining my practice.

      Good luck!

  2. I had my son (almost 19!) during my second year of law school. That was unusual then but I hope professional schools are more aware these days. It all worked out…

    1. @Anna – they really should be organized about it and talk about how they will make it work because it shouldn’t be a strange thing at all. Many women go to professional schools between the ages of 23-33 which, amazingly enough, are also prime ages to have a baby. The fact that anywhere might consider it “weird” or a huge accommodation is just…nuts.

  3. I’m a tenured college professor who had two babies in the pre-tenure phase of my career. Both were born toward the end of our college semesters and your suggestions in the Q&A are bang-on target (I fondly remember grading final exams while my newborn daughter was strapped to me in a baby carrier).

    What I would add to your response – many universities (family friendly ones!) have passed parental leave policies for faculty members that would enable you to skip a semester of teaching. Most also offer the ability to pause your tenure clock for a year (per child). This pause provided me with the wiggle room to focus on the bare minimum for the first six months after my children were born and only slowly ramp up my research and publications.

    I’d encourage the pregnant professor to read the faculty handbook carefully and consult with colleagues (especially other female professors with children)! I got pregnant shortly after being hired and my department was nothing but supportive through the whole process. I wish her luck!

  4. I enjoyed this podcast! I had 2 children during residency. What I’ve found interesting is that there is a perception that having children during training is novel and unusual. Since having children, I’ve had several attendings (men and women) in their 60s tell me that they also had children as residents, some 20-30 years ago! I think it’s helpful to normalize having children as a trainee. There are certainly challenges, but they are well worth it if a bigger family is desired or if age and other factors make fertility a concern.

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