Doctors Describe Tough Work, Life Balance

Fulfilled Physicians
Mandi Nyambi

Dr. Connie Rhee assures hopeful premeds that one can achieve a balanced life while pursuing a medical career.

Three doctors from Brigham and Women’s Hospital spoke Wednesday night on how they balanced their medical careers and personal lives.

The panel, hosted by the Harvard College Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program, included three colleagues in the hospital’s renal division—Jennifer E. Flythe, Connie M. Rhee, and Emily S. Robinson.

Despite the challenges they have faced, the panelists assured the audience of nearly 40 students that it is possible to navigate intense medical training programs while building a family.

“Even when you have families or other complications, you just do it,” Flythe said.

The panelists took questions for more than an hour and offered anecdotes about their own experiences in medical school and residency. The doctors discussed the decisions they were forced to make during their careers when their training conflicted with family plans.

“It can be very difficult [with a spouse] to match two careers,” said Flythe.

The students in attendance shared similar concerns as they consider careers in the medical field.

“I think it’s good that we had this panel to bring in doctors at different stages in their careers to hear about not only their work, but also how their family life comes into play as well,” said neurobiology concentrator Christine L. Shrock ’13.

Some students attended looking specifically to hear the perspectives of women in the medical field.

“I wanted to see how other women have balanced having a spouse and kids while pursuing a career,” said Marjorie N. Odegard ’13.

The panelists also discussed their paths to the renal division at Brigham and Women’s.

“As you move further along in your training, your options open up in terms of where you attend,” said Rhee.

All three doctors spent their residencies at different hospitals, but their mutual interest in kidney disease lead them to Brigham and Women’s.

Mari E. Tanaka ’13, the panel’s moderator, emphasized the importance of informing students about kidney disease. In addition to hosting events such as the advising panel, the Kidney Disease Screening and Awarness Program which sponsored the event also provides free health screenings and organizes community-based education programs on chronic kidney disease.

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