motherhood and medicine

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    I’m working on some articles and PR, I want to ask the same question that I always ask!!

    How does being a mother affect the practice of medicine? What qualities to mothers bring to medicine?

    Do you have any examples of how being a mother improved your patient care?

    Anything you have to say would be great!


    Karen WKaren W

    Being a mother has deeply affected my pediatric practice. I was, and remain, a firm believer that you don’t have to be a parent to be a great pediatrician. For me personally, the dimension of becoming a parent has made me understand the depths of love parents have for their children and the way that makes us sometimes crazy. I now understand why sometimes at 3 AM a fever or vomiting seems like an emergency. I understand that little things we notice about our kids can make us crazy and worried and that they may sound trivial to a physician but they aren’t to us. Also in terms of practical stuff – giving kids meds, putting in eye drops, car seat installation, I am much better at giving advice (at least I think I am). Also because my own son suffers from food allergies , I’ve gained a ton of medical knowledge about this topic which previously was one of those things I didn’t have as much depth on. I love being a mother and a pediatrician.

    EM momEM mom

    I agree with the previous post 100%. Being a mother in medicine is HARD and a constant juggling act, but I really feel that mothers make great doctors because all of the sudden you realize that the patient has a family…and that the patient’s family loves and cares about them (hopefully) as much as you love and care for your kids.

    Motherhood has made me far more careful about including the family (when appropriate) in discussions, I have been much better at not getting annoyed when the nurse calls because the family has a question and they have just arrived…after you have just spent a LONG time with that particular patient, and I’ve been especially careful about making sure to track down the family after surgery, because after waiting while my daughter had surgery I truly understood the importance of this! I also have a different perspective on “emergencies”…I’m finally starting to realize that if you don’t have any expertise in an area EVERYTHING seems scary!


    A huge part of medicine turns out to be basically good parenting skills — setting limits, consistency, reliability, care and compassion. Particularly in psychiatry, where so many of my patients have had bad or absent parents, I spend a lot of time doing parent education based on my own experience growing up and my experience with my kids. The risk is that I use my experience as normative, which it isn’t. I finally realized despite my guilt and not being the perfect mom, that for my kids to have 2 stable parents who love them, feed them, clothe them, enthusiastically support them, and set pretty strict limits — this already puts them way ahead of the game compared to a lot of kids today.


    I think the best example of how being a mother has influenced my practice of medicine is in the cases I have gone above and beyond what was expected of me as a physician. The specific examples that come to mind include occasions when I visited patients “on my own time”. Or spent an extraordinarily long time on the phone with parents reassuring them or advising them. Both activities fall within what is expected of a physician but the cases I am referring to involved my spending much more time than anyone expected me to, including the patient’s families. Many a physician that I know would never have taken the time I did on these occasions. I never would have taken the time myself before I was a mother. I empathized with the mothers of my patients and always acted the way I would want my own physician to act if I were in that mother’s place. Many times these activities have taken time away from my own children but I believe they are being taught a valuable lesson–one helps another when it is needed.

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