At Hayes Locums, we are lucky to work with some of the best and brightest women physicians in the country. This National Women Physicians Day, we’re celebrating them by sharing their stories.
We asked some of the women in our physician community to talk about their experience as women in the medical field: the challenges they’ve navigated, the skills they’ve learned, and why mentorship and representation can make all the difference.
Here’s what they had to say:
On the importance of perseverance and adaptability:
“I have known since I was 12 years old that I wanted to be a doctor. I didn’t come from a wealthy family, and I ended up being the first doctor in my family in a time when women made up less than 20% of the medical school classes. I was 20 years old the first time I applied to med school (yes, I said the first time). I didn’t get into med school that year, and I was told I was too young to know what I wanted. But I persevered, and I got into 4 schools the following year.
My career has spanned 40 years, a lot has changed in medicine during that time and a lot has stayed the same. But I think I am most proud of my ability to adapt to all the changes and continue to propagate the ‘art of medicine,’ which I see as a constant that hasn’t changed and hopefully will not change. The art of medicine encompasses compassion, the ability to individualize diagnoses and treatments and allow the human touch.” -Dr. Amy Sprague, Locums Hospitalist
“We’re very well-prepared as military physicians, in part because a lot of military training has to do with what you’re going to do in a deployed setting, where you don’t have all the resources, staff, or instruments you normally have. Having that experience of being able to navigate different ways of doing things, figuring out how to make do with what you have, makes walking into a locums environment fairly smooth and easy. The adaptability we learn in the military helps us work in a locums environment, but the locums environment also helps us take new ways of doing things back to the military.” -Dr. Aurora Vincent, Locums ENT
On how to find that elusive work-life balance:
“Locums has allowed me to do what I love most while still prioritizing a healthy work-life balance. Countless times I’ve heard physicians say I wish I tried locums, but it never was the right time since I was raising a family once I finished training. I have the unique experience of starting to raise a family through the rigorous years of medical school, residency, chief, and fellowship. So for me, there was no time like the present. Go for it. What’s the worst that could happen?” -Dr. Janelle George, Locums Gastroenterologist
“The flexibility of locums work afforded me the lifestyle that I really wanted, without having to be committed to working in medicine around the clock. Locums gave me more time to pursue and cultivate other passions. I’ve always been passionate about writing and literature, and now I’m able to do that in addition to practicing medicine. I still consider pediatrics my first love, but now I have all these other ways that I’m able to serve and to be creative. It certainly is allowing me to live the life that I want to live.” -Dr. Oneica Poole, Locums Pediatrician
On why mentorship matters:
“I definitely have had mentors through the years, women who went before me in even tougher times and hopefully I have been able to pass some of their wisdom on to the next generation. I also think the younger generation have been my mentors, showing me how to have a work life balance (by demolishing the superwoman syndrome), so mentorship is a two way street.” -Dr. Amy Sprague, Locums Hospitalist
“I didn’t have any inclination that there was any room for a woman to become a urologist, certainly not a Black woman. I didn’t see myself as a surgeon either, because I didn’t have representations of diversity in these specialties at all. But [then in medical school I met] Dr. Lenaine Westney, and I was amazed and starstruck, that this was a Black woman who was a urologist. When I spent time shadowing her and her colleagues in urology, I learned about how fun and cool urologists really are. It’s not just for men. There’s a whole subspecialty of Urology that is primarily focused on women. And I thought, this is what I want to do with my life.” Dr. Fenwa Milhouse, Locums Urologist