Breaking News
August 19, 2018 - HPV Legislation Doesn’t Impact Teen Sexual Behaviors
August 19, 2018 - Exenatide treatment alleviated symptoms of depression in patients
August 19, 2018 - Tufts researchers win grant to study integration of genomic sequencing into neonatal care
August 19, 2018 - Novel finger-prick test can help prevent toxoplasmosis
August 19, 2018 - Cosmetic Procedures Boost Well-Being, Poll Shows
August 19, 2018 - Responsive parenting intervention results in lower BMIs through age three
August 19, 2018 - Anticancer drugs can help plants to battle infection
August 19, 2018 - Sunscreen from bathers releases significant quantities of polluting titanium dioxide into the sea
August 19, 2018 - Case Western Reserve gets three-year grant to enhance food systems in Cleveland neighborhoods
August 19, 2018 - Teenagers can thank their parents’ positive attitude for avoiding obesity
August 19, 2018 - Body mass index positively linked with blood pressure
August 19, 2018 - New tool fills gap in Small Molecules market
August 19, 2018 - Study compares survival outcomes in rural and urban cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials
August 19, 2018 - Researchers develop molecular matrix that delivers healing stem cells to injured elderly muscles
August 19, 2018 - Teva and Regeneron Announce Positive Topline Phase 3 Fasinumab Results in Patients with Chronic Pain from Osteoarthritis of the Knee or Hip
August 19, 2018 - New study pinpoints ways to improve quality of food and nutrition research
August 19, 2018 - Ology Bioservices wins $8.4 million worth agreement to manufacture anti-Ebola monoclonal antibody
August 19, 2018 - New CRISPR technology may help eliminate mutated gene sequence
August 19, 2018 - “Zombie gene” protects elephants from cancer finds study
August 19, 2018 - Study explores how many American cities protect the rights of employed breastfeeding mothers
August 19, 2018 - FDA Approves Lenvima (lenvatinib) for First-line Treatment of Unresectable Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)
August 19, 2018 - Pain: Considering Complementary Approaches (eBook)
August 19, 2018 - Autoimmune response drives vision loss in glaucoma
August 19, 2018 - Tandem Diabetes Care introduces t:slim X2 Insulin Pump with Basal-IQ Technology in the US
August 19, 2018 - Innovative platform developed to destroy cancer cells
August 19, 2018 - Lowering pH inside tumor cells can slow down spread of cancer
August 19, 2018 - Biomarker predicts kidney cancer risk years before diagnosis
August 19, 2018 - Consequences of healthcare-associated infections go beyond patients’ physical health
August 19, 2018 - New drug- free, nanotechnology-based method detects and treats oral plaque
August 19, 2018 - Integration of Opioid, Infectious Disease Treatment Needed
August 19, 2018 - How eye disorders may have influenced the work of famous painters
August 18, 2018 - Blood biomarker could help predict kidney cancer up to five years prior to diagnosis
August 18, 2018 - Dartmouth scientists create more sustainable feed for aquaculture
August 18, 2018 - Immigrants Not a Burden on U.S. Health Care: Study
August 18, 2018 - Women who eat fast food take longer to become pregnant
August 18, 2018 - Most YouTube videos on plastic surgery are misleading marketing campaigns
August 18, 2018 - The essential guide to make your laboratory more sustainable
August 18, 2018 - Loyola Medicine offers scalp cooling treatment to reduce risk of chemotherapy hair loss
August 18, 2018 - Researchers describe promising strategy to remove melanoma’s most powerful defenses
August 18, 2018 - Women with polycystic ovary syndrome dissatisfied with medical care
August 18, 2018 - Research discoveries reveal insights behind neurological degeneration
August 18, 2018 - Researchers win multi-million Euro award to conduct research into liver disease
August 18, 2018 - Survey highlights variations in practice of airway management in pediatric intensive care units
August 18, 2018 - UK students win sponsorship from Promega Corporation
August 18, 2018 - Janssen Reports Positive Topline Results for ATLAS Phase III Study of a Novel, Long Acting Injectable Two-Drug Regimen for the treatment of HIV-1
August 18, 2018 - PSD as a molecular platform for understanding synapse formation and plasticity
August 18, 2018 - Improved visual communication could help patients to make informed health-care decisions
August 18, 2018 - New algorithm helps identify and manage diabetic patients at increased fracture risk
August 18, 2018 - Microscopic insect odour detecting mechanisms discovered
August 18, 2018 - Researchers develop new approach to study how tuberculosis infects people
August 18, 2018 - FDA Approves Kalydeco (ivacaftor) for Cystic Fibrosis in Children Ages 12 to
August 18, 2018 - An ion channel differentiates newborn and mature neurons in the adult brain
August 18, 2018 - Conditions of first sexual encounter can be indicators of future HIV risk and gender-based violence
August 18, 2018 - Socio-economic position associated with pregnant women’s exposure to environmental hazards
August 18, 2018 - Study evaluates how students change their breakfast consumption when given extra time
August 18, 2018 - Chronic perinatal hypoxia linked to locomotor miscoordination, long-term cerebellar learning deficits
August 18, 2018 - Voters to settle dispute over ambulance employee break times
August 18, 2018 - AGA urges policymakers and stakeholders to improve affordability of drugs
August 18, 2018 - Increasing dietary protein may lower risk of diabetes in people with NAFLD
August 18, 2018 - New HIV therapy suppresses viral replication and increases immune cells in drug-resistant patients
August 18, 2018 - Broad Genetic Testing for NSCLC May Not Improve Survival
August 18, 2018 - Discovery opens door for synthetic opioids with less addictive qualities
August 18, 2018 - Transgenic rice plant extracts could help stop the spread of HIV
August 18, 2018 - Hologic’s Cynosure division partners with Porter Instrument to distribute nitrous oxide and oxygen system
August 18, 2018 - Two thyroid medications recalled by FDA
August 18, 2018 - Forecast Sees Abnormal Heat Worldwide Through 2022
August 18, 2018 - Childhood absence epilepsy – Genetics Home Reference
August 18, 2018 - Fearing hard Brexit, UK drugmakers stockpile to protect lives
August 18, 2018 - Discovery may help broaden the scope of defenses against HPV
August 18, 2018 - When they start thinking green, they see green
August 18, 2018 - Scientists introduce microfluidics-based chip for manipulation and analysis of single cells
August 18, 2018 - Researchers design new way to grow nose cells for treating spinal cord injuries
August 18, 2018 - New light shed on relationship between calorie-burning fat and muscle function
August 18, 2018 - Surgery Saturday Instagram series takes you inside Stanford’s OR
August 18, 2018 - Researchers uncover surprising new role for inhibition in the cerebellum
August 18, 2018 - Children have better nutrition when they live near forests, global study shows
August 18, 2018 - OHSU professor conducts clinical trial with artificial pancreas using Xeris’ liquid glucagon
August 18, 2018 - HSS takes young patients with physical challenges on a surfing trip
August 18, 2018 - Study shows electronic health records leave doctors and patients unsatisfied
August 18, 2018 - Study uncovers mechanism that affects multiplication of dengue virus lineage
Challenges and rewards for women who choose to be both CT surgeons and mothers

Challenges and rewards for women who choose to be both CT surgeons and mothers

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Just ahead of National Women Physicians Day on February 3, STS celebrates two of its member surgeons, Drs. Mara Antonoff and Leah Backhus, and their story of balancing the tough job of being mothers and their “day jobs” as cardiothoracic surgeons. Drs. Antonoff and Backhus believe that “carrying these two titles simultaneously is not only possible, but enormously rewarding.”

BLOG ARTICLE as published on the STS patient website:

In recent years, women have gradually made up greater proportions of medical school classes, with most medical schools in the United States currently fairly balanced between male and female students. However, women continue to be underrepresented in certain specialties, particularly in surgery. Cardiothoracic (CT) surgery is a fairly extreme example, with women constituting approximately 5% of practicing surgeons.

While we remain a small minority of the surgeons in our area of expertise, we must recognize that great strides have been made over the last 3 decades in terms of creating a space for women in CT surgery. As our field has evolved, we have experienced increasing support, encouragement, and opportunities. Women are slowly finding their way into positions of leadership and setting examples for young trainees interested in the specialty. We are certain that the future is bright, even for women like us who choose to be both surgeons and mothers.

Let’s face it: being a mother is a tough job and, at times, is much more challenging than our “day jobs” as CT surgeons. While the challenges of motherhood are not unique to women CT surgeons, there are many parallels that actually complement these two important roles. Caring for children is a 24-hour job, with no vacations (at least very rarely). We nurture our children when they are sick, cheer for them when they need encouragement, and anticipate trouble ahead to prepare for disaster.

In our homes, we are often thought of as the “fixers” of things. Our internal wiring and years of training and accountability kick in as second nature whenever there is a problem. CT surgeons are trained to prepare for every possible contingency to avert misfortune, but in the face of adversity, we are action oriented. We are the folks who spring into action and take charge of hopeless and chaotic situations (although we can still be thwarted at times by a colicky baby at 3:00 a.m.). Thus, most of us would argue that our professional training is an asset to motherhood in many ways.

Yet, try as we might, to don our virtual capes beneath our white coats or blue scrubs, determined to be Wonder Woman each day, the reality is harsher. CT surgeons work long hours with patients who also require 24 hours of care. Balancing the needs of our patients against those of our family (and inserting our own needs in there somewhere) can be incredibly challenging-;but definitely possible. We do it on a daily basis: bit by bit. But mostly we do it with a ton of help! We have spouses and extended family members and support staff and professional services and our loving children who watch our every move and are growing to understand that the work we do is meaningful to many.

Despite the challenges of being both mothers and CT surgeons, we firmly believe that carrying these two titles simultaneously is not only possible, but enormously rewarding. We believe that our career experiences shape the way that we mother our children, and hopefully set an example for them as to what it means to work toward a goal and to help others. Likewise, we hope that our patients see value in the traits that we have honed via our experiences as mothers.

Benefits for Patients

As any parent knows, there are certain skills that we all learn through our experiences with children. We succeed in parenthood as we practice patience, tolerance, tenderness, warmth, and an ability to communicate with others who may not share our same knowledge.

Motherhood hones our expertise in multitasking and our ability to maintain calmness under pressure which is particularly useful for surgeons performing technically challenging operations. Moreover, motherhood provides us with an understanding of the enormous importance of family during times of illness. Oftentimes, patients will inquire about our families and they may catch a glimpse of one of our children on a leisurely Saturday morning rounds. We think this helps patients feel more connected to us in a way and actually strengthens the physician-patient bond.

Advice for Future CT Surgeons

For anyone who is interested in following in our footsteps as both mothers and CT surgeons, here are some lessons we’ve learned along the way:

  • Don’t be afraid to accept help at home. You will need it! Of course, selecting the right partner is imperative; having an understanding, committed co-parent goes a long way. But, by the same token, don’t expect your partner to do it all. You may have to let some things slide or outsource household tasks whenever feasible.
  • Communicate to your children and show them that they are important to you. It is inevitable that you will miss some important events. When you do miss things, find a way to make your children feel special. Prioritize the “must-do” events and don’t waste time on tasks or events for your kids that don’t matter to them.
  • When you have to choose work over family, explain it to your children. Even at very young ages, they will understand and be proud of you-;eventually. There will be times when they don’t understand, but they will get it someday.
  • Find a support network! This cannot be overstated. If there are women surgeons at your institution who can provide you with support, that’s great. But due to the lack of women in our field, there aren’t always same-sex mentors available locally. Seek other means of networking with women surgeons. It also is imperative to have relationships with your children’s friends’ parents who can pitch in for you in a pinch.
  • Remember that all mothers feel guilty, and all good surgeons lose sleep at night over their patients. You will experience both of these emotions. Avoiding parenthood will not absolve you of guilt, nor will becoming a stay-at-home mom.
  • Accept the fact that there are ups and downs, and when things go poorly at work, it will likely affect your home life and vice versa. But it’s important to remember that it is normal for everything to snowball at once, and it also will all seem to suddenly get better at once. Just be strong through the rough patches and seek support as you need it.
  • Know that your mentors may not necessarily be women or surgeons. Your male colleagues can be incredibly supportive so don’t be afraid to take them up on their offers for support as well. Most of them have significant others and children and also have valuable insight here as well; so don’t count them out!

Most important, don’t forgetting to take time out for yourself. You might not have a lot of time for self-care, but find a way to fit it in as part of your routine.

There is no single giant scale upon which to measure the quality of one’s “mothering.” Our goal is simple-;produce happy, well-adjusted adults. Children are resilient, but they are not tough as nails. They do need us to slow down and focus. We must listen to them and love them like only their mothers can. And since their mothers happen to be CT surgeons, their childhoods will be shaped by unique experiences like rounds in the ICU, “playing” on a surgical robot, learning how to suture, traveling all over the globe to surgical conferences, meeting new people, mastering FaceTime calls while Dad makes one of his masterpiece gourmet meals. Oh, and, of course, all enhanced with knowing that their mother is one Badass Surgeon!

Source:

https://ctsurgerypatients.org/how-we-balance-motherhood-and-cardiothoracic-surgery

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles