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Vital Signs

From resident of the NICU to NICU resident

Dr. Bethany Lovejoy Ames started life as a four-pound preemie in Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), under the care of Dr. George Little. Today, she's back in the NICU--as a second-year pediatrics resident, caring for babies far smaller than she was. And her preceptor is none other than her former caregiver, George Little.

Twin: Ames and her twin brother came into the world six weeks early, at 34 weeks' gestation. "Thirty years ago, 34 weeks was considered high-risk," she observes. "Now, we're caring for babies [born at] 24 weeks."

The stronger of the twins, she needed only three weeks in the NICU, but her brother stayed there for four months. Both are now healthy adults, and they grew up hearing about the critical role Little and others played in the first weeks and months of their lives. "My parents think the world of George Little," says Ames, a 2004 graduate of Dartmouth Medical School. "There's even a picture of him in our baby books. That's how I recognized him when I started my residency!" Though it might seem that Ames was born to be in pediatrics, it wasn't until her freshman year in college, at Brown, that she realized she wanted to care for sick children. After graduation, she taught chemistry and physiology for two years before entering DMS.

Beth Ames, left, started life in the NICU in the care of George Little, right.

Hope: While she's proud of her history with Dartmouth's NICU, Ames doesn't mention it to her patients' families. "The baby is the focus, not me," she says. But if parents learn of her story and bring it up, she's happy to talk about it. "It's a

nice connection I have with families that other residents don't get to experience," she observes. "It gives them hope. They often say, 'If you turned out this well, maybe my baby can, too.'" A.P.

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