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University of Missouri

Future Dr. Mom

A med student mother of two navigates domestic and academic responsibilities.

Megan Johnson and toddler daughter play doctor

Second-year med student Megan Johnson is examined by her 2-year-old daughter, Valen. Photo by Nicholas Benner.

Megan Johnson’s 4-year-old son, Roan, is just beginning to understand that mommy will someday be a doctor. Using his Fisher-Price otoscope, he examines 2-year-old sister Valen’s eyes and ears.

“It’s OK,” he says. “OK, now breathe.”

He must get his bedside manner from mom, a second-year medical student who juggles school and motherhood with aplomb.

The lifestyle requires streamlining, so Megan and husband Grant, a Boone County, Missouri, state trooper, strive to make the most of family time. Grant watches the children while Megan is at school most days, and weekend mornings are sacred.

“We try to be intentional in our time with the kids,” Megan says. “Saturday morning breakfasts are precious. My husband makes amazing pancakes, and I make pretty good coffee.”

Java also helps Megan through the school week, which is simplified by Mizzou’s flexible problem-based learning (PBL) program. PBL groups medical students who collectively investigate medical case studies instead of sitting through lectures.

Because of academic demands, med students with toddlers are rare. Megan says her home life helps her with the occasional pediatric example in class. She knows the immunization schedule, and she is familiar with the childhood viral infection roseola. Incredulous friends and family wonder how she does it all.

“I feel like it has been a remarkable series of events that has allowed me to take this path, so I am excited about it,” Megan says.