Mother knows best: Motherly advice that shaped our doctors
A mother’s nurturing love and support can help guide a child – or adult – to great things. Mother’s Day is an opportunity to recognize and appreciate the women who have shaped us. Here, some of our doctors reflect on the advice their mothers shared that made them who they are today.
Treat your patients like family
“My mother inspired me to be the best at whatever I desired to be, and she told me to shoot for the stars. She didn’t have a formal education, but she has heaps of street smarts. When she learned I wanted to become a surgeon, she told me to take care of my patients as I would take care of my family and all would be well. This is what I use as my driving force when I make treatment recommendations and surgical decisions.” — Ashish Kamat, M.D.
The gift of resilience
“Growing up as a minority in a relatively small town, my mom warned me that there would be times when others would try to define me — whether it was by being a woman, a black American or solidly middle-class. She made me understand that people would make assumptions and have expectations of who I am, how I should act and what I could be based on how I looked, but she told me that I couldn’t allow those things to influence how I felt about myself and what I was capable of achieving. She prepared me for real life and gave me the gift of resilience. When you know who you are, you can’t be shaken. If I’m able to get that message across to our own three daughters, I will know that they will be able to handle life’s challenges.” — Terri Woodard, M.D.
Enjoy what you do
“My mother was passionate about her job and internally driven. I learned from her the value of finding a career that I enjoy and the importance of a strong work ethic.” — Matthew Katz, M.D.
“My mom was an immigrant. She has a thriving interpreting business now, but for a long while she had to take whatever jobs she could to support her kids. When I started residency, she told me how lucky I was to love my job and that it wasn’t just to make a living. That has always stuck with me. I am so privileged to do work that is deeply meaningful to me.” — Welela Tereffe, M.D.
Don’t be wasteful
“My mom married early and had three children by age 20, but earned her GED and attended college classes. At a local hospital, she worked her way up from being in the purchasing department to being the director of materials management. Her path is how I became exposed to the medical field.
Because she had to be aware of costs, she has always cautioned me against wastefulness in the operating room. Because of that, most of the staff is aware that I don’t like many things opened prior to needing them during a surgery.
She also stressed the importance of an education, and her example instilled in me the desire to finish high school and pursue a career in medicine. I was the only one of her children to do so. Last year, my son became her first grandchild to graduate from college. My middle daughter is a freshman in college, and my youngest daughter is considering a career in medicine. So, by God’s grace and my mother’s example, the cycle is being broken and a new generational legacy is being created.” — Bryan Moon, M.D.
Never stop studying
“One of the most important things my mom taught me is to be thirsty for knowledge. That’s why I’m sitting here today having recently completed my MBA that I earned while still caring for our patients. I could just hear words of encouragement: ‘You never stop studying.’
Her other advice was to always be giving — especially in patient care. When my mother’s mom was sick, I was just getting into med school. I knew nothing, so all I did was sit by her bedside, but it helped me understand the importance of being giving to our patients. Sometimes we give treatment, but sometimes it’s our time and just being there for them. And I have always kept that in my heart.” — Marina George, M.D.
“Growing up, my mother gave me, along with my four siblings, the emotional space to experiment and be bold. This informed many dimensions of my life growing up, from sports to travel to the classroom. With respect to the latter, she encouraged me to try coursework and explore subject areas that were out of my comfort zone. The accompanying safety net was that my grades were never the most important thing; all she cared about was that I put forth a genuine effort to learn. This activated my passion for medicine and set me forth on the path I find myself today.” – Anaeze Offodile II, M.D.