Ep 2. Becoming a father during medical school

How to become a parent during med school


John Cover Photo John Thomson is currently an MD Candidate, Class of 2019. He won the respect of the entire class when he wrote five back-to-back exams, immediately after his son was born, running on a few hours of sleep. In the picture is his son, Gus and wife, Abby.


  • John’s story
  • Strategies for maintaining good grades and raising a family
  • Guiding principles
  • How to overcome challenges

Statistics mentioned:

  • Dhalla, Kwong, Streiner, Waddell, and Johnson (2002) found that that Canadian medical students are not representative of the Canadian population. Medical students were much more likely than the general Canadian population to come from urban areas, come from neighbourhoods with high median family incomes and be children of well-educated, professional parents (Dhalla, 2002).
  • The most common reasons physicians self-disclose are to reassure the patient, to counsel the patient and to build rapport. Beach et al. (2004) conclude that self-disclosure is most effective when used to enhance the patient-physician relationship.
  • Jagsi, Tarbell and Weinstein (2007) believe forcing students to delay childbearing and forcing students to forgo spending time with their infants is inappropriate. This paper looks at solutions to support new parents during their medical training. Some solutions include availability of on-site child care and other support, the exemption of competent trainees from making up leave time and increased part-time training options.
  • Khadjooi, Scott, and Jones (2012) surveyed 200 students from Edinburough in the UK. They found that almost 80% believe the decision to have a child is influenced by studying medicine.


John was a great first interview because I know him personally. He was approached mostly to practice using the new technology. As two males speaking about parenting, our views are obviously biased. Cujec, Oancia, Bohm and & Johnson (2000) conducted a survey of medical students, current medical students, residents and physician teachers at the University of Saskatchewan. They found that males were most likely to recommend parenthood while females and residents were less likely (Cujec et al., 2000).  Not discussed here are the challenges female parents/students may face. Taylor,  Macnamara, Groskin, and Petras (2013) in the Rhode Island Medical Journal do a detailed analysis of  the challenges faced by new mothers in medical school including breast feeding and childcare.


Beach, M. C., Roter, D., Larson, S., Levinson, W., Ford, D. E., & Frankel, R. (2004). What Do Physicians Tell Patients About Themselves?: A Qualitative Analysis of Physician Self-disclosure. Journal of General Internal Medicine,19(9), 911–916. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1525-1497.2004.30604.x

Cujec, B., Oancia, T., Bohm, C., & Johnson, D. (2000). Career and parenting satisfaction among medical students, residents and physician teachers at a Canadian medical school. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal,162(5), 637–640.

Dhalla, I. A., Kwong, J. C., Streiner, D. L., Baddour, R. E., Waddell, A. E., & Johnson, I. L. (2002). Characteristics of first-year students in Canadian medical schools. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal166(8), 1029–1035.

Khadjooi, K., Scott, P., & Jones, L. (2012). What is the impact of pregnancy and parenthood on studying medicine? Exploring attitudes and experiences of medical students. The journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh42(2), 106-110.

Smith. S. (2011). Student-Parents Get By with Some Help from Their Friends. Retrieved from


Taylor, J. S., MACNAMARA, M. M., Groskin, A. N. N. A., & Petras, L. I. (2013). Medical student-mothers. Rhode Island medIcal journal, 42.

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