“Being a woman in my opinion is a super power! Women are more intuitive and usually have high emotional intelligence. We listen well and can read between the lines when talking to patients. Many studies have shown that women doctors have better outcomes for their patients. That’s the data that we need to be talking about more.”
In honor of National Women Physicians Day, Dr. Archana Shrestha, an emergency medicine physician from Illinois shares with us her personal and professional challenges she faces and how she co-founded the Women in White Coats Blog where her mission is to support and empower women in medicine each and every day. #ThisFemPhysicianCan
WHY DID YOU GO INTO MEDICINE?
My mother is a family medicine physician and I grew up around Medicine. My mom used to take me on rounds with her to the hospital sometimes and as a teenager I would work in her office on Saturdays so I got to see first hand the positive impact my mom was making on people’s lives. I liked science in high school due to some phenomenal teachers and knew I wanted to help people as a healer so decided to become a doctor and go to medical school.
DOES BEING A WOMAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN HOW YOU APPROACH YOUR CAREER? WHY?
Being a woman in my opinion is a super power! Women are more intuitive and usually have high emotional intelligence. We listen well and can read between the lines when talking to patients. Many studies have shown that women doctors have better outcomes for their patients. That’s the data that we need to be talking about more. And that’s part of the reason we created the Women in White Coats blog to not only empower and uplift women doctors, but also to change the narrative.
DO OTHER PATIENTS AND COLLEAGUES PERCEIVE YOU DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE YOU’RE A WOMAN? HOW?
Sometimes even though I’m wearing a white coat that says Dr. on it, patients call me “nurse.” It happens more with older generations who hold the stereotype of men as doctors and women as nurses. But I take excellent care of my patients and many times even my older patients ask if I have a private practice and if they can see me in the office.
WHAT IS A PERSONAL CHALLENGE YOU FACE AS A FEMALE PHYSICIAN?
Balancing my roles as a doctor, wife and mom is a struggle at times. As an emergency physician, I work a lot of evenings, nights, weekends and holidays. This means I miss out on family time quite a bit. Sometimes my kids get upset and cry when I am leaving for work and that is always hard. But when we are together, I cherish those moments and focus on quality time. Also emergency medicine has allowed me the flexibility to go down on my hours when needed to be more present with my family. The other thing I have learned is that I don’t have to be super woman and do it all alone. Now I have a team of people to help me at home and with the kids. Between a very supportive husband, a cleaning lady and virtual assistant and others we keep it all going.
WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE YOU FACE AS A FEMALE PHYSICIAN?
Women doctors are sometimes passed up for leadership roles because there is the perception that they are focused on family and not their career. But leadership roles are actually a great option for a woman because they usually allow her more control and flexibility with her schedule. We need more women doctors as leaders because we bring a different and valuable perspective to the table.
WHAT CAN (and DO) YOU DO THAT HELPS EMPOWER YOU TO BE THE BEST FEMALE PHYSICIAN YOU CAN BE?
As the CoFounder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Women in White Coats blog, I am dedicated to uplifting and empowering women doctors. That is at the heart of everything we do, from the Articles we publish on our blog to the Women in White Coats Doctors Lounge (a virtual doctors lounge created for women doctors) to our Women in White Coats Conference and Wellness Retreat.
We talk about all sorts of issues — everything from burnout to gender pay disparity, to leadership and side gigs. We want to give women doctors a safe space to discuss the challenges they face, uplift them and empower them with information and support and ultimately see women doctors feel fulfilled and have thriving careers. This is what we aim to do every single day.