The Mrs. The Mommy. The M.D.: Applying to Medical School: Do I Mention That I am a Mother?
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Applying to Medical School: Do I Mention That I am a Mother?

A reader asked for some insight regarding her personal statement and I thought that this would be a great post because it was something I went back and forth about during my application cycle.

Two application cycles, 15 rejections, and 2 acceptances later, here is my take on things:

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I have a lot of reservations regarding writing about motherhood in your personal statement or talking about it during the interview. Everyone has a different backstory, but my feelings come from the fact that  my pregnancy was both early and VERY unplanned. I wasn't even telling my family and friends let alone some strangers on an admission committee. Frankly, I did not want to be written off as ill-equipped to handle to rigors of medical school because I was a new mother. Needless to say, I didn't mention it either time that I applied in my personal statement. 

And for the same reasons I didn't mention it on my interviews. Even when I was running back to breastfeed my 11-day-old son in the middle of my interview day at IU, I kept my mouth shut.

I did break my rule once, during the second application cycle when I interviewed at Morehouse.  I actually was stunned by the fact that I both simultaneously got emotional and shed a tear while talking about how having my son hadn't stopped me and that then, more than ever, I knew being a doctor was something I was born to do. It was an intense interview, but I felt like I laid it all on the table, and I was able to be completely myself. After the interview I kept playing this scene in my mind and how I might have sabotaged my chances but Morehouse School of Medicine will always have a special place in my heart because they were the first school to say they wanted me to be a doctor too :-)

I haven't known anyone personally who got a negative reaction for talking about their kids in the PS/interview, but I just didn't want to chance it if I happened to get the interviewer who believed that women should stay at home with the kids... Unfortunately, biases are alive and well. 

:Disclaimer: Obviously, now that I am in medical school there is FULL disclosure. I don't think you should have to hide motherhood, but unless you are certain it makes your application stand out in a positive way amongst the vast majority of single or non-parent applicants, for now it might need to be left unsaid. 

I think the main thing is, whether you talk about your experiences in motherhood or not, you want to focus on YOU. As a mom we tend to focus on everyone but ourselves, especially our children. So although it may be easy to talk about them, you don't want anyone to sell you short because they think you can't emotionally be invested in medicine.

You only have a limited amount of time (and words) to give someone a taste of the dynamic and multi-faceted person you are. I wanted them to walk away from my PS/interview knowing me as a person and why I couldn't see myself doing anything besides being a doctor.

That's just my two cents...Hope it helps!

I would love to hear other opinions on this! What is your take on sharing your role at a mother while applying to school programs and/or for jobs?  
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