Match made in the lab for graduating doctor, advanced practice nurse

By Lisa M. Larson

UMass Medical School Communications

May 31, 2017
  Ben and Kathryn Crawford

Ben and Kathryn Crawford

It was love at first . . . lab rat.

As pre-med majors at Vassar College in New York, Kathryn Romaine and Benjamin Crawford were assigned to be lab partners during their junior year.

You could say their research was a success. They got married two years ago.

“It’s a pretty textbook romantic medical story,” said the now Kathryn Crawford, who grew up in South Carolina. “We took care of the lab rat together for an entire semester. That’s how we actually met.”

On Sunday, they will hood each other as they both graduate from UMass Medical School—she with a master of nursing in the family nurse practitioner track from the Graduate School of Nursing, he with a medical degree from the School of Medicine.

“Kathryn is my biggest source of support,” said Ben, from Needham. “I can’t even tell you how much she’s helped me to get my medical degree, even as she worked to get her own degree. There is no one else who I would rather have up there on stage with me on graduation day.”

After graduating from Vassar—Kathryn with a degree in psychology, Ben with a degree in neuroscience—the couple moved to Boston, where he worked at MIT and she at Planned Parenthood for two years.

“The amazing nurse practitioners at Planned Parenthood really changed the tide for me,” Kathryn said. “They made me realize how much I connected with the nursing career.”

Meanwhile, Ben applied and was accepted at UMass Medical School. While he began his four years of studies in 2013, she attended Worcester State to complete her prerequisite courses in nursing. She enrolled in the Graduate Entry Pathway program of the GSN the next year, for the three-year program.

“Little did we know we would have the same graduation, on the same day,” said Kathryn.

Ironically, Ben’s foray into the medical world began with nursing.

“As a summer job after my freshman year at Vassar, I worked as a nursing assistant at Beth Israel Deaconess. I loved the relationships I was able to develop with patients,” he said. “I spent a lot of time getting to know them. By the end of the summer, I was looking for a deeper role and it inspired me to go to medical school.”

Next step for Ben is three years of residency in pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital—his first match choice. Kathryn will seek a position in primary care.

“As a family nurse practitioner, I’m really interested in taking care of families from start to finish,” she said. “I love the relationships that you build.”

She wants to emulate the caregivers who took care of her family when her father was treated for pancreatic cancer.

“The providers treated us like we were people—like my dad was always a person and not a disease to be conquered,” she said.

They both look forward to continuing their careers, together.

“One of the reasons we both chose UMass is because of the wonderful focus on interdisciplinary education,” Kathryn said. “We’ve had classes together, we are doing our opioid training together and it’s really special that we are going to be colleagues in the future.”

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