When Parenting and Cardiology Training Collide
My path to motherhood while training to become a cardiologist was most atypical. I became a mother at the age of 22, right before starting medical school. I often joke that my eldest daughter is the "age" of my medical training.
I left Casablanca, Morocco at the age of 17 after high school to attend college in New York. Change was not something new to me – I had lived in Paris, France with my family for a few years during middle school. I was driven and determined to become a doctor. I met my husband while in college and we decided to get married at the age of 20. It was my decision to have children at a young age, to grow with my children. I knew that it would take many years to become a cardiologist and did not want to press "pause" on life while training to become one.
By the age of 25, I was a mother of two. By the age of 28, I was a mother of three, and done having children. With each child, I took more time off from training. I took a year off during medical school to spend time with my second child and I took a couple of years off after the birth of my third child. It is only when my youngest was two years old, out of diapers, walking and speaking that I was ready to start the intense hospital training as an intern and, later, as a resident and fellow. It is because of the time I took off between medical school and residency to raise three young children as a "stay-at-home mom" that I was able to take on the subsequent six years of intense training required to become a cardiologist.
The time I spent at home with my kids gave me an appreciation of what it is like to be a working mother. It taught me the importance of spending quality time with my children and my husband. It taught me to multitask and assign "time slots" for everyone and to keep my priorities straight – of which my family was always number one. Being a young mother and managing so many responsibilities has also made me a more compassionate doctor to my patients and their supportive families. I just turned 36 years old, and while a lot of peers my age are well into their early career stage, I am finally graduating from my cardiology fellowship. It is a choice I made, and I do not regret it for a second.
Watching my children grow has given me so much satisfaction in life. My eldest daughter, Ariel, is now almost 14 years old. She is a witty young woman, fearless competitor, athlete enthusiast, soccer player, part of the debate team, the newsletter's writing team, the school leadership team, the charity team and an avid reader. I could go on and on. My son, Zev, is turning 11 this summer. He is a kind soul, inquisitive, curious, outdoorsy, nature lover, mesmerized by stones and minerals, and loves all kind of sports, especially baseball. Finally, my baby girl Shirley is turning eight next month. She is the life of the party, a ray of sunshine, very affectionate, a happy camper, makes new friends everywhere she goes. She is outgoing, funny, silly, and so mature for her age.
Over the years, I have gained a deeper appreciation for the saying, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." I love cardiology. Being a cardiologist is extremely rewarding and it is my passion. At the same time, being lucky enough to experience motherhood is not something I take for granted.
This article was authored by Sarah Rosanel, MD, a Fellow in Training (FIT) at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Twitter: @DrRosanel
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