Sisters, triplets, colleagues in medicine

    Heather Butts (left) with her sisters Samantha (middle) and Sydney.(Megan Pinto/for The Pulse)

    Heather Butts (left) with her sisters Samantha (middle) and Sydney.(Megan Pinto/for The Pulse)

    Some families hit the jackpot when it comes to smarts and success – but how about the resumes of these three sisters? 

    Some families seem to hit the jackpot when it comes to smarts and success – think the Marsalis family, or the Emanuel brothers, but how about the resumes of these three sisters: Samantha, Sydney and Heather Butts all work in healthcare. Samantha Butts is a Penn ObGyn and specializes in fertility issues. Sydney Butts is chief of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and Heather Butts teaches at Columbia University’s School of Public Health. And – they are not just sisters.

    “We’re triplets,” explained Samantha Butts,”all born essentially at the same time in New York City. Two of us are identical, and one of us is fraternal.”

    Sharing birthdays and interests, but seeking different paths

    “I am not identical to my sisters,” said Heather Butts with a chuckle. “Usually when I’m with just one of my sisters, people comment that we look very much alike, but when the other sister is introduced, I don’t look so much alike anymore.”

    Sydney Butts says growing up as triplets felt special. “There was constant companionship, but one of the things we have all worked toward is to pursue our individual interests.”

    The sisters’ love for health and medicine started early on in life.  Samantha doesn’t remember ever wanting to be anything but a doctor. And, they grew up in a medically ‘predisposed’ household. Their father is a psychiatrist and their mother is a psychiatric social worker.

    “We were raised in a household where health was discussed a lot,” said Samantha Butts. “I think we also had a very clear understanding of the rigors of a career in health. “It started there, and then each of us found a way to express their passion for this career.”

    Heather says competition among the sisters was healthy. “I went to Princeton, Syd went to Yale, and Sam went to Harvard” she explained. “Even when we were going through the process on what schools we were going to go to, it was less about competition and more about supporting each other.” “We’re competitive in a way that makes each of us stronger.”

    Talking shop and finding time 

    When the sisters get together, chances are, they’re talking “shop” a lot. “It’s unavoidable” they all agreed. “Sometimes, we have to check ourselves and say ‘lets talk about other things in life,'” said Samantha.

    “It is critical to have people around you that you can confide in, so I’m very lucky that I have two people automatically that I make listen, whether they want to or not,” added Sydney.

    “I try to talk shop more than the other two,” admitted Heather. “I just find what they do fascinating, and because I’m more on the public health side, there is that difference.”

    Getting together can be a challenge for the three busy sisters, and requires a coordinated effort. But, as Samantha explained, their mother is highly organized and is used to balancing hectic schedules. And with the rest of the family in New York City, Samantha is always just 90 minutes away.

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