The Mrs. The Mommy. The M.D.: See It. Do It.
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

See It. Do It.

Dr. Denis is originally from Trinidad, but grew up from age 10 in NYC. She remained in NY for undergrad and medical school, and was then transplanted to Philadelphia for residency training in obstetrics and gynecology - which she completed in 2011. She and her husband have been together for 13 years, married for 7, with two beautiful daughters. She enjoys yoga, reading and baking… but her kids keep her busy! She is awesome, right?! Read below about her life as a Mom and M.D.!

Name: Carlene Allana Denis, MD

Medical School: SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Graduation Year: 2007

Future (or Current) Specialty: Obstetrics and Gynecology 

How many children do you have and their ages: Two, ages 6 and 3. 

Did you do any post-undergraduate schooling or working before attending medical school? 
I worked for 6 months at Starbucks! I stayed in college to complete a second degree and to give me some time off before starting med school.

Did you have any of your children during medical school? If so, how did you “plan” for it? 
Not at all planned. Our first was a surprise. We worked through it by making some arrangements to my rotation schedule in the fourth year (delivered the week before Match Day). My mom was able to come up just before and delivery and she stayed for a few weeks after. When it came time to move to a new city for residency, I was able to leave my daughter with her while my husband and I bought and moved into our new home.

What kind of childcare do you employ? (i.e. live-in nanny, family help, daycare, babysitters) 
We use Daycare.

What has been the biggest challenge to handling medical school (and/or practicing medicine) along with having children? How have you overcome it? 
There is no overcoming the mommy guilt. Feeling like you are missing milestones, or events, or just plain ‘ole quality time because of the demands of school, residency, work. When I am home, I make them a priority and I schedule things for us to do on weekends. I make it a part of my schedule so there is an expectation that it will get done. I also read to my girls most nights of the week. Now that my oldest is a wonderful reader, she makes me let her do the reading though!

Do you feel like your school/job is “flexible” to any family issues that may arise? 
Not always. It is hard for doctors to take sick days, especially in private practice with tighter/overbooked schedules. Fortunately, my husband is flexible in his job and he takes on that “burden” when needed.

What is one item/strategy that you have that helps to make life easier as a mother and medical student/physician? (i.e. organizational method, electronic device, calendar tool, etc.) 
BIG calendar… and even then, things get missed. Two working parents makes it hard to keep track of everything. Put we plan ahead, and talk, talk, talk.

What kinds of things do you do to “relax”? 
I work out a few times a week. Not as much as I would like, but it is time that I set aside for me. Yoga, ballet barre - time that is scheduled out of the house. My husband and I also make date nights, and “play dates” with our friends with kids. That way the kids are occupied, and we have great friends that we can hang out with, and vent!

Do you feel that your experience as a mother has made you a better doctor or future doctor? If so, how?
YES! As an OB especially, I have been there, done that. It gives me a good perspective of what patients are going through. Being pregnant, delivering, feeling overwhelmed, not dedicating time to yourself, mommy-guilt… all of it helps to make me the kind of doctor that I think my patients appreciate, and can relate to.

What advice do you have to the women who want to pursue medicine with children? 
As soon as you make the decision to pursue medicine, there is no longer a good time to have kids. So just do it! Time in school can be made up, time with your family cannot. Once that moment is gone, it’s gone for good. You can’t go back and enjoy your babies, because they get older in a heartbeat. Cherish the time you get to have with them, and appreciate the time you spend away. Those smiling faces when I get home puts it all in perspective.

Are you a physician or medical student mom who would like to share her story? Send me an email at
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