With her two children gripping her hands, Tricia Driscoll, a single mother from Roslyn Heights, received her medical degree from the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine Monday.
“I just sort of took each day as it came, and did what I could with what I had,” said Driscoll, 40, who began medical school when her younger child, Teo, was still in diapers.
Driscoll earned a master’s degree in computer science from Johns Hopkins University in 2005 and was working as a data scientist when she decided to change careers.
Driven by a desire to improve health care for underserved populations, Driscoll earned a post baccalaureate degree from Columbia University and then began medical school in August 2013, she said.
Raising her two young children, Nina, 6, and Teo, 5, while studying and attending classes wasn’t easy, Driscoll said, joking that through her four years of medical school, she had become accustomed to a “semi-permanent” state of fatigue.
During her first two years of medical school, Driscoll said she had a baby sitter who would help her look after the kids and would often bring them to campus for school-related events.
“There was a nice, multigenerational thing going on. Most of my classmates are a lot younger than me and my kids got to know them and really looked up to them,” Driscoll said. “I think that’s been great.”
Driscoll later hired an au pair when her class schedule became less flexible, she said.
“I treated it like a job. I tried to study during the day if I could, while they were at school,” she said. “But I did most of my studying after they went to bed and I had packed their lunches or whatever else I needed to do.”
Driscoll said she also sought out other women who had succeeded in juggling their responsibilities at home with those at work or school.
“Working moms generally deal with similar challenges and hearing other women’s stories helped me feel like I wasn’t doing it alone,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll will complete her residency in the Einstein-Montefiore primary care and social internal medicine program in the Bronx. She hopes through her research to improve the way physicians interact with their patients by “making room in the field for different kinds of people and expanding our understanding of what it means to be a good doctor,” she said.