Article: December '23: Somebody Call a Doctor
December '23: Somebody Call a Doctor
Introducing ALPHA BRAVA's 'Employee of the Month' series: a set of candid conversations with the women who inspire us, across all disciplines. In these intimate interviews, our guests reflect on their work-life journeys, career obstacles, and best life advice. Proving connection and community are best nurtured through vulnerability and personal stories.
Imposter syndrome is real. Even for Heidi, double board-certified doctor, world-class citizen, and compassionate advocate. The remedy? Grace, tenacity, and patients.
Doctor, what’s your specialty and why?
I’m double board certified in internal med and geriatrics. I chose to focus on taking care of the older generations because I find them to be the most interesting and delightful members of our society. We have so much to learn! They are full of life and experiences and love and wisdom.
What lights you up?
Spending time with my partner! Traveling together is fun2. There’s so much laughter when we’re together. He brings me joy every day of my life.
We know you spent part of your childhood growing up outside of the U.S. Talk to us about that and how that experience has impacted you.
It’s common to grow up in an echo chamber of ideology, culture, and lifestyle that drive us to misunderstand anyone who is different from us. This is further being amplified today with algorithms that lead us to believe everyone who does not think the same as us is “stupid.” Having spent several years of my childhood and adolescence in communities where I was the “odd one out” helped me to have empathy and appreciation for those who are different from me. I can be friends with people who I disagree with. Differences help me to be a more understanding human, both personally and professionally.
What’s your greatest fear?
My cats dying! I’m investing in a witch coven’s startup, who’ve promised to thwart their inevitable mortality.
What is the greatest deficiency in American healthcare and one way you’d address it?
American healthcare is being crushed by greedy insurance monopolies and heavy bureaucracy, while patients and providers are literally fighting for their lives. Corporate entities such as United Healthcare are stealing the majority of America's healthcare dollars while reaping astronomical profit margins. Meanwhile, Americans are left with crushing debt and poor health, and providers with devastating burnout and despair. Medical debt should not account for 60% of bankruptcy filings annually, while also leaving them with substandard health. I believe universal healthcare would not only be more financially solvent, but would also allow for an emphasis on preventative rather than reactionary medical care (less lucrative but more holistic/effective).
What's the most underrated virtue in a woman?
Compassion. Women are expected to be tough and withstand mental and physical pain- to be smart and successful, but not to be soft or a “push-over.” To maintain compassion while still functioning with integrity, foresight, and intelligence is a difficult line to walk.
... Most overrated?
Physical appearance. I love the following quote from Elenor Roosevelt – “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.” I don’t want to stake my virtue on something that is largely beyond my control. I’d rather build something beautiful with my life.
What is one frustration point of being a woman in medicine? How do you overcome it?
Imposter syndrome! It’s overwhelming, and the higher you climb, the greater the anxiety.
Working in medicine is difficult, and I have struggled to feel confidence in my skills. Fortunately, I often get to see the real time ways that my knowledge improves the lives of patients I care for, and that builds my confidence. I also cherish the opportunities I have to make my patients feel seen and heard; this is a form of healing that is underlooked but very needed.
What do you think of when you hear the words “work-life balance”?
It feels like a buzzword; like an impossible puzzle. I think I’m beginning to find my equilibrium, but it is easily upset. I’ve found that it’s important for me to build in more “free time” than I think will be necessary when I plan my schedule. I never regret it.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
Listen more than you speak. This has served me very well, both personally and professionally. The people around you need to feel that you see them for who they are. Give them the time and space to express themselves, and you’ll inevitably understand them better.
Heidi in the AB Dad Hat