Med School Moms Find Support in Each Other, Families, and School Community
Gay also felt encouraged by the school community. “Everyone was so welcoming and helpful. I remember my first PBL group helped me get up to speed and filled in the gaps I missed during the remaining orientation week. And, every time I brought Desi to school, our classmates played with him and were genuinely excited to see him. I’m very grateful; we truly couldn’t ask for better classmates or more supportive people to be around.”
King and Gay also found a support system in each other. “Even just the simple fact of having someone to pump with,” King said. Gay added, “Some of our best memories are sitting in the pump room and pumping together, which sounds crazy.”
Many times pumping together was spent focused on their studies. “We could study, quiz each other,” Gay said. But, it became more than being productive. “You just didn’t feel alone. I think that was helpful too, for my mental health, helping remember what drives you. Having each other just helped,” King said.
The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has had other students become new moms and dads during their tenure at VTCSOM, but Gay and King are the first women to give birth during their first year of study.
As a non-traditional applicant with a previous career, King knew she wanted to have a baby during medical school when she applied. The small class size at VTCSOM, with fewer than 50 students per class, was a factor she considered when deciding where to attend. King believed this environment would allow her to balance her desire to become a physician with her desire to start a family.
“I felt like I was empowered here because of it being small. I could have conversations with school leadership, faculty, and staff and really let them know what I need, because I knew they wanted me to succeed,” King said. “I think sometimes either we don’t know what to ask for, or we don’t feel like we can ask for something. We should empower women to ask for what they need to be successful in both career and home life.”