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‘Mothers in Medicine’ Provides Guidelines for Navigating Both Medical Careers and Motherhood

The George Washington University’s Katherine Chretien, MD, created a guidebook based on her popular blog and online community, Mothers in Medicine

WASHINGTON (March 6, 2018) — First comes medical school, with late nights, exams, and clinical rounds. Then comes residency, with its 80-hour work weeks and ruthless schedule. Then comes a fellowship, with its research and training responsibilities. Finally, you’re an attending. Now is the time to start thinking about having children.

At least, that’s how it was. Now, women are finding ways to make the choices that work best for them, whether it’s having children during medical training or after. Women in medicine should no longer feel confined to one path for family and career. Mothers in Medicine hopes to serve as a contemporary guidebook for women as they navigate this space.

“In 2008, I started a blog to share the often messy, imperfect stories of motherhood in medicine, for and by physician-mothers,” said Katherine Chretien, MD, editor of Mothers in Medicine and assistant dean for student affairs and associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “Today, the blog has over 1,500 posts and over five million page views. We’ve distilled all the knowledge and wisdom gathered in our online community over the last decade into a guidebook for women – whether it’s a pre-med student worried about when she’s going to have children or someone already with children in practice who is having a hard time balancing it all – this book is a place to get advice and lessons learned.”

Mothers in Medicine is organized around themes unique to the physician-mother: career, choice of specialty, practice issues, and work-life balance. It features real stories and advice from mothers in medicine at all stages of training and practice, and in all stages of life – there are stories about negotiating work load, infertility, divorce, having children during medical training, and more.

“Sharing our authentic stories, particularly of struggle, insecurity or vulnerability, weaves a net of hands by which to catch others who may fall,” said Chretien. “I hope readers will find advice, guiding principles, and truth-telling to support them and lift them up during their journey as a current or future mother in medicine.”

The book’s chapters were written by over a dozen women in medicine, with contributors from the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Children’s National Health System, New York University School of Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and more. GW authors include Terry Kind, MD, MPH, assistant dean of clinical education and associate professor of pediatrics, who wrote the chapter, “Choosing Motherhood and Medicine: The First Questions;” Jane Chretien, MD, MPH, associate clinical professor of medicine, who co-wrote the chapter, “Negotiating for the Job You Want;” and Kathleen Ogle, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine, who co-wrote the chapter, “Navigating Life Challenges as a Mother in Medicine.” 

The Mothers in Medicine book is available on Springer at http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319680279 and on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Mothers-Medicine-Practice-Lessons-Learned/dp/3319680277. The Mothers in Medicine blog is available at www.mothersinmedicine.com.

Media: To interview Dr. Chretien, please contact Lisa Anderson at lisama2@gwu.edu or 202-994-3121.

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About the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences:
Founded in 1824, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was the first medical school in the nation’s capital and is the 11th oldest in the country. Working together in our nation’s capital, with integrity and resolve, the GW SMHS is committed to improving the health and well-being of our local, national and global communities. smhs.gwu.edu