September is Women in Medicine Month. We pleased to share the stories of some of our female physicians.
What made you want to go into medicine?
I knew I wanted to have a career where I could make a difference. Medicine is a field where you have the opportunity to impact many lives. I never had a role model and there were no physicians in my family so I really had no idea what I was getting into until third year when I found myself on OB/GYN during my first rotation and experienced the reality of being a physician. I must say I thought about quitting, and that it was too much to handle, but I am glad I persevered because I love being a doctor. The things I like best about my job are my patients who I have known for 26 years and the students and residents that I get to teach. Medicine is rewarding. I also get a lot of hugs in Geriatrics which is great, too. Teaching is also very rewarding. I keep the cards and letters I received from students thanking me for helping them learn and I sometimes get them out when I have a bad day!
How has medicine changed for women since you started?
I had the advantage of going to a mostly women's medical school, so women were treated pretty well. However, I had a friend at another medical school in town and she had a different story. She was a member of AMWA and the men called the members WAWA's because they were always complaining. Academic medicine is still hard for women. There are definite salary discrepancies. I'm afraid this is partly because women are not as good at negotiating in a business situation. I see this changing in the future. There are more women advocates teaching these important skills at medical meetings.
Were there any women in your life that you looked up to and helped shape who you are today?
My grandmother was a strong woman. She told me stories of escaping from Russia by hiding in a wagon under a pile of hay and traveling to America on a boat as a teenager. She was no nonsense and made practical decisions. I was the youngest of three children and the only one to go to college. My grandmother was proud that I became a doctor.
What advice do you have for women just starting out?
I wish I had more business and finance training. You need to know how to manage people, and we aren't taught that in school. Hone your leadership skills and learn how to negotiate your salary. Don't stay in a stagnant job that you don't enjoy. Make time for yourself and your family. There are so many different jobs for doctors and you have control over what type of lifestyle you want.
Date Posted: Friday, September 18, 2020