Visit Mentors' Round Table to read our interviews of women in the fields of science and health. These are women of varying levels of experience and backgrounds, brought to the table to answer your questions about everything from work-life balance to financial management. Read on, be inspired, and leave them (and us!) a comment!
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How did you choose your career?
I always knew I wanted to work with kids. I spent a few years student teaching and working in various childcare and school environments. I loved being around kids, but it made me sad to get a new group of kids every year. I knew that pediatricians generally see a child from birth to 18 years old and I liked the idea of getting to know a kid and watching them grow over a long period of time. I realized that to be a pediatrician, one needs to go to medical school!
Have there been any problems in your work life or training that have arisen because of your religion?
My school is generally accommodating. We have a dress code and have the option of wearing scrubs or professional attire. I have a scrub skirt and I wear long sleeves under my scrub top. In our physical examination class, the dress code is shorts and a sports bra for girls. The school allows me to wear a skirt over shorts and wear long sleeves. I only get paired with females and have a privacy screen that I use when I need to expose any part of my body. For the most part, everyone has been very respectful and understanding of my “situation.”
What do you like best about your career? What do you like least?
I love learning about the human body. It’s amazing how intricate and complicated even the most basic things are. If I could summarize what I learned in medical school so far in one sentence, it would be G-d is so smart! I enjoy learning how these things work and I like how it strengthens my relationship with G-d. I have much greater concentration when I say morning brachos (blessings) for example, or the blessing recited after using the restroom. There are so many things that can go wrong in a person, I’m so amazed and thankful that my body is healthy!
My least favorite thing is how comfortable I have to be discussing uncomfortable topics. Physicians have to know everything about their patients and sometimes that means asking personal questions. I know this is part of being a good doctor, but it’s definitely something that forces me out of my comfort zone.
Are you married?
Married for 4 years.
Do you have children, how many?
None yet, G-d willing very soon!
How do you balance family and work life?
My husband is very helpful and understanding. He helps me with household chores like cleaning and grocery shopping. I generally cook one big meal on Friday afternoon and that lasts us through Shabbat and most of the week. We also made a decision to not have guests and not to BE guests. Since I’m at school all week, Shabbat is the only time we get to see each other and spend time together.
What does your spouse think about your career?
He is very supportive on all fronts.
What does your family think about your career?
My parents have always been very supportive of my decision and have consistently encouraged me to pursue medicine. They even tolerate my very strict “no Sunday phone call policy” if I have an exam on Monday!
How do/did you handle the financial stress of training?
I always remind myself that only G-d decides how much money someone will make. All I can do is work at my maximum capacity; everything else is up to Him. We all have as much as we need, so why waste time worrying about it? If I don’t have it, it means I don’t need it right now!
Do you have any advice for students aspiring to be where you are?
Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t do it! I’ve had so many people discourage me from going to medical school. There is a lot of misinformation out there and only people who experienced it will be able to give sound and accurate advice. Speak to people you respect and look up to and who know YOU. The best advice I got came from women who had gone to med school themselves.
Do you have any role models you look up to?
Rebetzin Tzipporah Heller (spiritual teacher and counselor) is an amazing and brilliant woman. She was one of my teachers in seminary and continues to inspire me and be a role model. I was also very influenced by a young rebetzin who lived in Chicago. She was the recipient of a lung transplant and had this amazing clarity and zest for life. She told me “Doctor’s don’t save lives, G-d does.” It was such a profound thought and it made me realize how closely doctors have to work with G-d. Just like there are no atheists in foxholes, there aren’t really atheists in operating rooms either. This holy woman later passed away, but her words continue to resonate with me.