From Motherhood to Match Day: MCW Graduate Looks Forward to Next Challenge

From Motherhood to Match Day: MCW graduate looks forward to next challenge

Mercedes “Sadie” Miller arrived on campus at the Medical College of Wisconsin-Central Wisconsin in 2019 with a goal to earn her medical degree in three years. But life had other plans for her and her partner.

Sadie Miller's infant son“I got pregnant with my first born, and I couldn't be happier with the way things worked out,” says Miller, who like many other graduating medical school students was anxiously awaiting Match Day on March 17.

That day, she and thousands of others opened an envelope revealing where they’ll be completing their residency.

“It’s the culmination of years of education, experiences, work, and research and the moment you learn if you get to be a practicing physician in the US,” she says. “You have such limited control over this monumental life event.”

It was another monumental event, having a child during medical school, Miller says, that prepared her for whatever challenges will come next. Juggling parenthood and school hasn’t been easy, she acknowledges. Miller and her partner had to manage work, school, rotations, and daycare, all while learning to navigate parenthood for the first time. Also, Miller’s first child was born during the pandemic, as COVID-related fears shook the world. Needless to say, it was a stressful time for the young family.

Sadie Miller and sonMiller reached out to faculty members to try to figure out the best way to tackle parenthood and her studies. One of the key pieces of advice they gave her was to learn to arrange her priorities according to how she saw fit, not others.

“I was working hard to keep up with my schoolwork, and at times I had to make sacrifices in my academics in order to be a mom and be there for my child,” Miller says. “I had to learn to be OK with those decisions.”

“Likewise, there were times I needed to put my education and performance first. It helped me recognize that priorities are dynamic, and sometimes we have to move them around depending on our circumstances,” she adds.

The experience also helped Miller realize that she could always ask for help when she needed it and that she had the support of a broader community, both in school and out.

“Throughout my time at MCW, no one gave me the idea that I couldn’t tackle both motherhood and being a medical student,” she says. “So I think that's been an incredible experience that I’m unsure I could’ve gotten anywhere else.”

Knowing she had support from her colleagues and staff at MCW, and from her adopted community in Wausau, where the MCW-Central Wisconsin is located, gave Miller and her partner the confidence to add to their growing family. Their second child was born this past fall, while Miller was well into the process of finding a Match.

“I was doing residency interviews up until I was 39 weeks pregnant, and then I had a couple when I was a few weeks postpartum,” she says.

Journey towards Medical School

Sadie Miller and partnerGrowing up in the rural Wisconsin town of Arcadia, Miller first became interested in medicine after watching her younger sister battle with bone cancer. She spent many hours with her sister as she went through the treatment process.

“I think I really fell in love with medicine when I saw not just the hard work and intellect it takes to be a physician, but the nurturing and kind-hearted nature they all showed her as she battled this disease,” she says.Sadly, her sister lost her battle while Miller was in college, which left her unsure if it was still the right career path for her. She took two years off after completing her undergraduate degree, working as a home health aide, certified nursing assistant and substitute teacher while she pondered her next move. Realizing that she kept gravitating toward jobs that involve caring for others helped her decide to once again pursue medicine and apply for medical school.

“I had this idea that I wanted to be a general practitioner, a family doctor, because during my time off I saw that there was such a big need in these rural communities I was working in,” Miller shares.

Sadie Miller and partner at MCW-Central Wisconsin residency match eventShe chose the MCW-Central Wisconsin in Wausau because of its smaller class sizes, strong community connections and rural feel. It’s the type of environment she hopes to practice in one day and raise her family. She says she couldn’t be happier with her decision to attend school there.

“You’re not just a number there, and I don’t think I would have experienced the same one-on-one relationships in a larger area,” she says.

She’s also thankful for the tough road she took to get to her residency, which she found out on March 17 will be in family medicine at Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

“I guess all-in-all with being in med school and having kids, things have rarely ever gone as planned, but they have always worked out,” Miller says. “We’ve learned to find purpose and even joy behind every challenge.”

Share This Story

Read more about

Education Innovation