Being a mom is a rewarding experience that also comes with many responsibilities. When the stress of a career in medicine is added to the mix, additional challenges arise. However, being a #MedicineMom is do-able.
Kylee Sutton, director of administration at Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, is one of 13 Indiana University School of Medicine moms offering advice on making it all work. She and Lindsay Treadway, program manager at Indiana University School of Medicine Office of the Dean, started the IU School of Medicine Working Moms Networking Group.
“I thought it would be beneficial to all working moms at IU School of Medicine to join together to share stories. We organized brown bag lunch sessions regarding time management, advice from moms of older children, a coffee meet-up, a brewery meet-up, and a vision board session,” said Sutton.
IU School of Medicine moms across varied roles (faculty, staff and learners) offer practical advice on thriving in motherhood and careers in medicine.
1. Let go of mom guilt
“Be patient with yourself.” - Kathy D. Miller, MD, Ballve-Lantero Professor, IU Simon Cancer Center, Associate Director for Clinical Research (bottom left photo)
“Let go of perfection. It’s OK if you can’t make every single after-hours work obligation, and it’s OK if your kids don’t have a perfectly home-cooked, well-rounded meal. You are doing your best, and that is all that matters. Sure there is always ‘mom guilt,’ but at the end of the day, we are lucky to have two of the greatest jobs in the world!” - Charline S Boente, MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Ophthalmology Residency Program Director (top photo)
“Don’t let social media and the ‘perfect’ life of others make you feel like you’re not doing your best.” - Kylee Sutton, Director of Administration at Stark Neurosciences Research Institute (bottom right photo)
“Prior to becoming a mom, I had visions of what I now know is an idyllic yet unrealistic portrayal of life as a mother working outside the home. In reality, I have learned this vision was not consistent with maintaining my peace of mind or my own well-being. I have grown in my ability to ask for help and outsource tasks to other capable hands. There are things only I can do for myself, my son and our family, and these are the things I prioritize, showing myself grace in the process.” - Ryan Harris, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry (bottom right photo)
“Prioritize your family, and always be flexible. Don’t plan too much as plans always change, and sometimes things you didn’t plan for end up being the best things in life!” - Abigail F. Klemsz, PhD, MD, Assistant Dean for Academic Advising, Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics (bottom left photo)
“You simply can't be all things to all people. There aren't enough hours in the day, and there isn't enough of YOU to be divided up. Your sacrifices (one less business trip, one less podium presentation, a later promotion) will be rewarded a thousand-fold. There truly is no greater wonder than seeing your children transform into adults. You will never get time with them back--enjoy it TODAY. They need you, and you need them.” - Anna Maria Storniolo, MD, Andrew and Peggy Thomson Professor of Hematology Oncology and Professor of Clinical Medicine (top photo)
3. Grow a support network
“Build a network of friends and family to help with childcare needs. Our schedules are inherently crazy, and we need all hands on deck. Talk about your life with your co-workers; normalize being a professional woman with a family. Find your tribe of women, and absorb as much wisdom as you can!” - Emily Wagner, MD, Emergency Medicine/ Pediatrics Resident, PGY 5 (top photo)
“When I was an overwhelmed intern juggling obstetrics and gynecology residency and a small child, an attending physician gave me this excellent advice: You are not the only one who gives love to your child. Stop feeling like you have to do it all. Let your village-- grandparents, nannies, friends--love your kids with you.” - Hannah Locke, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology (bottom photo)
4. Take advantage of university resources
“As a member of IU School of Medicine’s Women’s Advisory Council, I am fortunate to work alongside scientists, physicians, scholars and leaders who are working to foster policy recommendations and promote best practices supporting mothers on campus and in our community. Within the Emerging Leaders Program, I am surrounded by colleagues who lead diverse teams and consistently demonstrate high-level skills focused on excellence, respect, integrity, diversity and cooperation. It is groups like these that go a long way to keeping talented, professionally accomplished women at IU School of Medicine.” - Tara Hobson, MA, Director of Graduate Programs and Student Success (bottom photo)
“Our daughter spent two-and-a-half years at the IUPUI Center for Young Children. That was a tremendous gift to have excellent childcare facilities right here on campus with adequate aftercare hours to cover our work day.” - Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds, MD, MPH, MS, Assistant Dean for Diversity Affairs, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Associate Professor of Pediatrics (top photo)
“Don’t forget eligible employees have access to a Care.com premium membership and to Backup Care.” - Nikki Livingston, Communications Specialist, Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity and the Office of Strategic Communications
5. Ask for flexibility
“I had my first child when I was a third-year medical student. IU School of Medicine gave me the option of taking a year off, and fully supported me when I made the choice to do so.” - Hannah Locke, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology
“IU School of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine has allowed me to work part-time, which was the best work-life fit for me.” - Marla Doehring, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine (bottom left photo)
“The residency administration accommodated necessary schedule changes leading up to the due date and post-partum. Starting a family has always been a top priority for me, and the program allowed for great professional development without having to put these personal goals on hold.” - Jennifer M. King, MD, Internal Medicine Chief Resident, PGY 4 (top photo)
“I worked four days a week for 15 years when I took on the role of Associate Dean for Medical Student Education. My husband is an ER doctor and with his non-traditional work schedule, I realized that for me to be the whole person that I wanted to be- including doctor, mother, partner and friend, I would need to have more flexibility in my life. That extra day allowed me to enjoy all of the aspects of my life. I was still able to advance in my career and go back to working full time when it was right for me.” - Emily Walvoord, MD, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics (bottom right photo)
“The emergency medicine program has been especially helpful in fostering a family-friendly atmosphere. Evening academic events are kid-friendly. We are allowed to bring babies to our weekly morning conference day. I received amazing support when balancing breastfeeding/pumping during shifts. There are spectacular role models here who are completely crushing the mom/doctor life, and I am so thankful for everything I’ve learned from them. - Emily Wagner, MD, Emergency Medicine/ Pediatrics Resident, PGY 5
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.
Nikki Livingston is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity. She earned a B.A. in Theatre Arts and Drama at Spelman College.
Nikki's unique background in graphic design, copywriting, project management, and digital marketing enables her to support communication efforts through a wide variety of mediums. She is passionate about mission-driven storytelling and helping organizations connect with their communities.