Having a child is one of the most joyous moments in life for any parent. With the birth of a child comes new adventures, memories, experiences and a new way of living. Although this experience is rewarding, struggles and challenges can arise when adding the responsibilities of working as a medical professional. Fathers at Indiana University School of Medicine have reflected on their experiences as fathers and physicians and are excited to share insightful tips and advice on how to be great at both.
1. Find balance between family and work
“I always tell new dads that it is not the love that they’ll need to figure out, but it’s the logistics of being a working parent that they need to think about. There are only so many waking hours in a day for kids, and the old schedule you may have kept may no longer be feasible. By engaging in that conversation early on and identifying these likely challenges, dads can find a much more fulfilled, much less stressful, work/life balance that helps support everyone in the home.” – Adam Nevel, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine (bottom right photo)
“Becoming a father is one of the greatest joys of my life. I lost my father at an early age, so I appreciate every single moment with my beautiful son and daughter. My advice to fathers is to remember “Love” is spelled “Time”. If you allow medicine to control your life, kids will always take a backseat. I believe “I’ll do it later is code word for ‘never’,” so put down your smart phone and take interest in what excites your child. You may not love Bey Blades or Tik Tok, but your children will remember the time you spent with them.” – Antwione Haywood, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology (top right photo)
“IU School of Medicine has been very welcoming to me and my family as a same-sex parent household. They can see the value of representation, equity and inclusion and this contributes to foster a sense of belonging for individuals who are underrepresented in medicine like me. The school has given me the chance to have the work-life balance that I want in my life. There is no guilt and no judgment when I say that I can’t hold a certain meeting because there is an important event for my kids that I want to be present for. The culture is that your family and well-being come first and that has taken an important part of being a successful parent and physician.” Alvaro Tori, MD, Associate Dean for Diversity Affairs (left photo)
2. Find support at work
“The people I work with have understood how important being a father is to my well-being and have tried to help whenever they can to insure I can be there for my children in the ways that I desire. From making service time exchanges, to listening to schedule requests, and helping me get out in time for birthdays, and school events—these are just a few instances that come to mind in how those I work with have supported me in my role as a father.” – Levi Funches, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (top right photo)
“IU School of Medicine has provided me with flexibility and I receive continued support from my team members. This is one of the many ways the school has supported me in the endeavor to be a father.” – Javier Sevilla-Martir, MD, Assistant Dean for Diversity Affairs (bottom right photo)
“There are multiple examples of IU School of Medicine supporting me as a father, such as: wonderful health care benefits and access to emergency care through care.com. However, more importantly, the school, in conjunction with IU Health, provides the most supportive work environment that helps me achieve my professional goals in clinical care, teaching and research. Being able to achieve my professional goals energizes me in my personal life and fuels my desire to always be a better parent.” – Tim Large, MD, Assistant Professor of Urology (top left photo)
“My wife and I feel very lucky and grateful to have wonderful colleagues. My colleagues at the Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center held a fantastic baby shower and many of our colleagues emailed us and gave us warm greetings during quarantine. As a Chinese couple, we can feel all the sincerity and love from our U.S. family at IU School of Medicine! We are so lucky!" – Meichen Yu, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in Radiology & Imaging Sciences (bottom left photo)
3. Always communicate
“With the recent crisis with COVID-19, my daughters have expressed fear of me going to work in the emergency department. Helping them understand the importance of what I do as a health care provider and as an emergency physician is important to me as a parent. Additionally, with the recent events of racism and police brutality, I am also mindful to model and discuss with my children what a future society of true inclusion and love for people of all skin colors may look like. My goal as a father is always to prepare my children to grow up to be meaningful contributors and citizens of a better society than we live in currently. I hope I model that for them in all that I do.” – Paul Ko, MD, Associate Dean for Curricular Development & Oversight (bottom right photo)
“With several medical professionals in our family, my primary advice is to always encourage your children to pursue their passions. As a physician, I never encouraged or made it feel as though it was an expectation that my children would follow my footsteps. They each had to find their own path.” – Louis Cantor, MD, Jay C. & Lucile L. Kahn Professor Emeritus of Glaucoma Research and Education (Louis Cantor’s children top photo)
“One of the hardest concepts for young children of health care providers to understand is on occasion, patients' needs supersede those of your family. When I am not able to make an event, my wife and I communicate with them routinely about why I cannot be there, because I am helping someone who needs my attention.” – Michael Meneghini, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery (bottom left photo)
4. Be intentional with your time
“Our kids want us, not what we can give them. They want our time and attention.” – Clint Bahler, MD, Assistant Professor of Urology (top left photo)
“Play with your kids and hug them as much as possible.” – Anthony Shanks, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology (bottom right photo)
“Commit to activities that align with your priorities. Just remember that how you spend your time reflects what you value and your children see this.” – Dylan Cooper, MD, Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine (top right photo)
“Everything that I do or that I agree to, I first ask myself how much time or attention that is going to take from my wife and son. While I am still quite involved, I try to make sure that I protect my time with them. In fact, we have a rule at my house that we set down our phones from 6-9 pm every night (unless on call) so that we can truly be together.” – Ryan Fitzgerald, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery (bottom left photo)
“I have three daughters and raising them to be positive contributors to society is one of my greatest responsibilities and privileges. This of course requires time and intentionality to be physically, relationally and emotionally present. Therefore, I have tried to be fully present while at work so that I can be fully present at home with my daughters.” – Nathan Schmidt, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics (middle right photo)
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Madison Pershing is a Marketing and Communications Assistant for Indiana University School of Medicine’s Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity.