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Career & Leadership

Secrets of a successful female attending physician

February 18, 2021

I have some secrets to share. There are too many to list here, but I have to let you know. Even as a successful female attending, I don’t always feel that way. And in the past seven years, I have hit some bumps in the road. There’ve been moments where my reputation was in jeopardy, and my very job was at risk. This breaking-into-the-boy’s-club thing isn’t for the faint of heart, but I know you are strong enough to handle it. Here are some secrets of a successful female attending. (Shh!)

Some things I’m sure of, as a successful female attending: 

Women are not the “weaker sex.” Womanly strength has covered my local interventional service when other vulnerable people needed coverage. 

Here’s a secret: men are human too. They get sick, they break bones, they have heart attacks, and statistically, they don’t live as long! So I don’t agree when women are treated as second class citizens in the workplace. I.e., the pay gap. 

Super secret: women pull their weight. Did you know, when i went on a 10 week maternity leave, they needed to bring in multiple locum docs to cover me? It turns out I was working quite a lot, and the guys covering didn’t want to work that much.

Here’s a secret people have yet to catch onto… the benefit of living in modern times (aside from covid) include readily available childcare, house cleaners, even a spouse who works less than or more flexibly than you! I take advantage of every one of those things (don’t tell anyone). 

You know what shouldn’t be a secret anymore? 

That not all women thrive as stay at home moms. That many women are tremendously talented and driven beyond the walls of the home. It’s not 1970 anymore. Women are literally half of the talent pool. It’s no secret I’m tired of hearing about women working twice as hard for half the recognition.   

You know what’s still a secret to some? Negotiating isn’t greedy when you’re a woman. It’s a requirement. When I renegotiated my salary for the first time, I was called the G-word. Greedy. I’m serious. I survived, and so will you (if it happens, though it shouldn’t, ever).

And while I’m sharing… here are some mistakes I see y’all making.

Be honest with yourself. Do you:

  1. Discount, dismiss, or forget the accolades you’ve received? (Write ‘em down!
  2. Make yourself small for the ‘benefit’ of others?
  3. Ruminate on criticism, fear, imposter syndrome, or all of the above?
  4. Listen to other people’s limiting beliefs about you?
  5. Think money is dirty, or something for other people to take care of? 
  6. Internalize misogyny or benevolent sexism? (I have, and probably still do)
  7. Overthink a lot of things?
  8. Think you lack what it takes to address inequities you face? 
  9. Lack self-compassion? 
  10. Deny the agency that’s available to you, now and in the future?

There ya have it. These don’t need to be secrets or liabilities anymore. 

Consider this chat like the moment of “real talk” reserved for the ladies’ locker room. 

I’ve worked through some of these obstacles, and I can tell you, life is better when you do. And it can be incremental, like a work in progress. 

In the coming weeks, I’m going to introduce a brand new course offering. It’s all about building your career capital so you can build your empire. It’s a mix of career coaching and personal finance, from the perspective of a breadwinning boss. I have learned to save lives and enjoy my own, and I want that for you, too. In many ways, I’ve told you “what” you can do to empower yourself as a female physician. Now, I’ll show you how. If you’re not on my mailing list and want to be updated, be sure to jump on it by clicking here.

Stay tuned!

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  1. John Stoj says:

    I met my wife after her fellowship graduation/awards dinner. She started as an attending as we started dating. I’ve watched the progression as she’s earned partnership in her practice, became section chief, had our son, and has become a leader in her practice.

    All of it has been done while carrying an extra, “burden,” of doing it as a female physician in a male dominated field.

    There is no way most men would survive what women in medicine go through.

    • Tired Superheroine says:

      I’m sure her story would fit RIGHT in here on the blog, in case she wants to share some of her journey. And also, I just realized, it would be awesome to hear from your perspective: the supportive boyfriend turned spouse and father… please let me know. I would adore sharing this with the readers here. She sounds like a true (tired) superheroine

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