Redefining Superwoman - A Successful Formula for Women In Medicine

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The premier issue of Physician License & Practice Today magazine features women's roles in medicine today. Like most physicians in training these young women want it all. Great careers, family connections, leisure time, and beautiful, intelligent offspring who will change the world and live out their legacies. They want these things, and they want them now. Although patience and delayed gratification are synonymous with training to become a physician, many hold a sense of entitlement and the assumption that all their hard work in medicine will lead to a fulfilling life soon after training ends.

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Yeah, yeah, I've got it all under control. No one is going to take advantage of my time, my personal life is in check, and everything is on track. Maybe a massage wouldn't hurt every now and then, but work/life balance is really for the other guy's benefit, not mine.

It was once a rarity in this country to find women in medical schools seeking to become physicians, and it was even more unusual to find women who actually practiced medicine after their medical-school training. Now the landscape appears to have changed dramatically. More than 50 percent of college students are female, as are almost 50 percent of the students entering medical school. While such changes have allowed the medical field to progress and become more inclusive in regards to gender, ethnicity, and culture, there are still inequities. Medical schools and workplaces are only now beginning to look at what is needed to address these inequities and bring about systematic changes to support the changing demographics of the doctors of the future.

In the last few generations, medical trainees and practicing physicians learned early in training to expect that anything is possible to achieve; one only had to dream of a goal. We learned that if we attacked our goals with tenacity, good intentions, and a dedicated effort, we'd get our rewards. In many ways, this was true for women who dreamed of a career in medicine, women who just a few generations ago did not have the right to vote and did not have a full career trajectory in medicine. But the same grit and determination that helped us break all kinds of barriers in medical research, surgery, clinical practice, and leadership is not necessarily what it takes now to maintain a well-rounded lifestyle, one that brings satisfaction and fulfillment. Many of the women in medicine in the first few generations have looked back on their amazing firsts and powerful careers and have wondered whether they could have done it differently. We want to have it all. We want great careers, family connections, leisure time, and beautiful and intelligent offspring who will change the world and live out our legacies. We want these things, and we want them now. Although patience and delayed gratification are synonymous with training to become a physician, many of us hold a sense of entitlement and the assumption that all of our hard work in medicine will lead to a fulfilling life soon after training ends.

Looking back on my college and medical school training, I would have loved for someone to utter the word balance to me. Balance is an important concept to seriously consider for our lives as physicians. We frequently hear the phrase work/life balance in training and even in the workplace now, but our first reaction when we hear them is to say, "Yeah, yeah, I've got it all under control. No one is going to take advantage of my time, my personal life is in check, and everything is on track. Maybe a massage wouldn't hurt every now and then, but work/life balance is really for the other guy's benefit, not mine." The question is how in the world can we expect a well-balanced life when we just spent the last seven to 10 years of our post adolescent years focused on achievement in medical training? Each area of life requires focus and a good deal of energy and effort for success. Spending hour upon hour poring over books and getting ready to come across as brilliant on rounds the next day will do nothing for your relationship with your family and friends, just as spending the weekend bonding with your family won't help you pass a qualifying exam the following Monday.

So, take a good look at your work and life choices, analyze and set your goals for the present and the future, and develop a strong mentor network to flesh out contradictions. This formula will help you achieve the full and rewarding life you expect to have at the end of all the hard work and training it takes to get to the beginning a medical career. During this very dynamic time in medicine, you and your generation have the opportunity to redefine what it means to live a successful life as a physician. Making wise choices now will preserve the profession we've all come to love as well as preserve the work/life balance that we all need, regardless of who we are. (Read this article in its entirety at http://www.plptoday.com)

Today Publishing LLC, founded by a small group of physicians and residents, was created and designed to be a relevant, cutting edge resource for medical students, residents and fellows, as well as physicians in practice. The company publishes two magazines which focus on providing content to maximize a career in medicine Physician License & Practice Today, A Vital Resource for USMLE, COMLEX, Residency & Beyond and Pre-Med Today, A Complete Medical School Admissions Resource.

Media Contact:    
Debbi Knoll
Sr. Director, Marketing and Advertising
(267) 207-2781

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