The Doctors Corrigan

As a third-year pediatric resident at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, Dr. Nicole Corrigan can still be expected to have lots of medical questions. And while she can ask her colleagues for the answers, she can also call her mom.

That’s because Nicole’s mother is Dr. Suzanne Corrigan, who was a pediatric resident at Children’s 30 years ago and is a clinical associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Nicole and her sister Danielle, who’s a second-year pediatric resident at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, “call about day-to-day life that comes up in the practice of medicine that no one prepares you for,” Suzanne said.

Together, Nicole and Suzanne Corrigan are believed to be the only mother-daughter physician duo that has undergone pediatric residency training at Children’s.

Times have changed
Times have changed a lot in 30 years of pediatric residency training. For one, the hours of training are significantly shorter now and mandated by law. In Suzanne’s day, pediatric residents worked every third night or every other night, sometimes 100-120 hours per week. Today, Nicole legally can work no more than 80 hours a week.

Nicole also has more support staff to assist during shifts. During Suzanne’s days as a resident, they had to do their own blood draws and microscope work.

Additionally, there also weren’t nearly as many women in medicine 30 years ago. “There were 10 woman out of 200 in my class at UTSW and only four women in residency my year,” Suzanne said.

“It’s also very different for them than it was for us in terms of sheer volume of patients but also the severity of illness that Children’s physicians see,” Suzanne said.

Suzanne knew all this when Nicole was accepted as a pediatric resident at Children’s but also knew that her daughter would receive excellent training. “I told Nicole she was going to work really hard but would get the best training anywhere.”

Suzanne added: “I can’t say enough good things about the preparation we received and that they’re getting now — giving them the skills they need to critically think, analyze and put solutions together.”

Advice on medicine as a career
Suzanne’s advice for residents and medical students is simple: “If you’re going into medicine to make money, that the wrong way to go. You need to want to take care of children who are really ill. It’s a full-time job and you need to give completely of yourself when you are on the job. You also need a partner or someone who can be there for support,” she said. “You need to be able to put your cares aside. When you’re here, the patients, they’re your priority. You need to be able to compartmentalize.”

“The other big part of medicine is working with the parents and fighting for what’s right for the kids in the community. If you’re not working to do that, then you shouldn’t be in medicine.”

Nicole’s path
Nicole will be continuing her career at Children’s. She completes her residency in June and has accepted the position of third attending physician as a general pediatrician in Children’s Emergency Department.

Nicole said she “feels lucky to have such great training and exposure to superb role model pediatricians, especially her mother and feels blessed to have found her calling in pediatrics.” She added: “In what other professions are families so grateful for your care that you create a special bond with them, I feel lucky to be their doctor.”

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