Women Physicians Pass Down Some Heartfelt Well-Wishes and Wisdom
To all new women physicians, we say—Welcome! You are joining a growing number of women in medicine, and the members of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) are so proud to count you among our colleagues. This moment can be as daunting as it is exciting. Since we have been in your shoes, we’d like to offer some words of wisdom.
- Please do avoid the words “only” or “just”, as in “I’m only an intern” or “I’m just a resident”. You have worked hard for all that you have accomplished. Remind yourself of that and don’t diminish your talents in yourself or in those of others.
- You will have days when you think you don’t know what you’re doing or wonder why anyone thought you could do this job. Just remind yourself that medicine is a process and it takes a lifetime to learn everything you’ll need to know. You can’t expect to know as much as the senior residents but they started where you are now. So ask questions. Ask whenever you aren’t sure about something. Just as important—Listen. Doubting yourself when starting something new is par for the course, just don’t let it interfere with your mental health. When the doubts continue, seek solace in bullet #1. If that isn’t enough and your thoughts start to interfere with your wellbeing, talk to someone.
- You will make mistakes. We all do. No need to dwell on them; instead, assess the situation, figure out what you could have done better, or what else you needed to know, and turn it into a lesson learned. If the issue was a problem with the system, let someone know so it can be addressed.
- You will face stressors on your personal life that you likely have not faced before. Significant others, family, and friends may not understand why you are not as available as you were before or are too tired to socialize. A career in medicine is not something you take on your own. Let others know the demands on your time and be sure to let them know how they can help.
- More on family stressors: If you previously were responsible for the majority of tasks at home, you likely won’t have the time or stamina to keep up with those expectations now. You can only do so much. Talk with your significant other and/or family about how you might shift responsibilities during this phase of your life. This will also provide good practice for the future, as finding a workable balance at home is a career-long juggle for women physicians. You want to do everything possible to avoid conflict between work and home to avoid adding adversely to your wellbeing.
- Enjoy what you do! You have taken a long, hard path to become a physician. Don’t lose sight of why you are in training. Even if it seems you are just bogged down completing medical records, make sure to find something gratifying and educational in your workday to help keep your sights on your long-term goals.
- Find opportunities to interact with other women physicians. You may find this in a role model, a mentor, or it may be with other women residents…at your institution and/or among members of AMWA. There are shared, common areas of interest among women physicians, regardless of specialty, and taking the time to share your experiences, talk about your successes, ask for input or perspective, can help you and others.
Enjoy this next year. This is what you have been working so hard to achieve, and it is the start to a brilliant career. Keep a lookout for opportunities for mentoring and engagement. If our insights resonate, please do consider joining AMWA so you can learn more about how to navigate as a woman physician in the world of medicine. If being part of a community of women physicians sounds appealing (and why wouldn’t it!!) see all the benefits afforded residents as a member of AMWA.
We look forward to hearing from you and working together to advance the careers of women in medicine. We’re here for you. Ready to JOIN