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Five Maine Track medical students become parents while training to become doctors

Tufts School of Medicine’s Maine Track is a program for students pursuing a career in rural medicine offered in partnership with Maine Medical Center.

PORTLAND, Maine — Five of the 46 people who graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine's Maine Track program on Sunday can claim another title besides doctor: parent.

These five doctors all gave birth during their medical school careers: a non-traditional choice for students amid the rigors of training to become doctors.

"All of [medical] school is like you don't really know what you're going to get into until you actually do it, and that's a part of the life that we've accepted," Dr. Dana Tripp said.

Tripp, from Saco, just gave birth to her son Cyrus on April 17. She will be working in anesthesiology at Maine Medical Center.

"It's a very different kind of love than I've ever felt," Tripp said, staring at her son.

"Everybody has someone in their life that they think of in that way," Dr. Caroline Wight said, an emergency medicine doctor who is going to be working at the University of California Davis.

She thinks giving birth to her son Wesley while in medical school gave her a new appreciation for the patients she will care for.

"I had all kinds of complications [during my pregnancy] and that experience really put me into the shoes of what it's like to be the patient and to know what it's like to be scared," Wight said.

No one will know what it is like to give birth at Maine Medical Center better than Dr. Annika Treyball. The Blue Hill native not only welcomed her son, Larkin, in September at the hospital, but she will be working there in the obstetrics and gynecology department.

"Medical training is hard and parenting is really hard," Treyball said. "There can be some stigma around it because it takes you away from time spent learning."

Fellow classmate, Dr. Andrew Brown, who will work in family medicine in California, said he, and others, credit the Maine Track staff with understanding their life choices and schedules as parents.

"I wish more and more medical schools had a formal family leave policy, as more and more fourth years are choosing to start families," Brown said. "I get to drop her off at daycare every day and pick her up every evening, so it's been really special."

Dr. Jo Linder, the assistant dean of students for the Maine Track program, said she believes being a parent helps these doctors care for patients better.

"Medical school should be not only about learning, but also about living life," Linder said.

Tripp will get eight weeks off before her next rotation in the ICU. She and her classmates agree with Linder's sentiment.

"I think being a parent will make me a better doctor and I think being a doctor will make me a better parent," Treyball said.

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