Health is influenced by social determinants, such as income, healthy behaviors, healthier neighborhoods, and social and psychological benefits. Poor health puts education, the great equalizer, at risk, she said. Interventions like mentoring programs may move people toward access to education, which leads to healthier behaviors and sustainability, she noted.
Dr. Montgomery Rice talked about her childhood in rural Georgia: an African American child diagnosed with osteomyelitis at age seven, raised in a single-parent household in the 1960s. Despite barriers, she had strong support from extended family, her church, and her teachers as she achieved high educational and professional goals, including a medical degree from Harvard Medical School. Education and mentorship, another great equalizer, propelled her toward her goals. Her “village of mentors” included women and men, teachers, physicians, and family members.
Barriers and Burnout
Women physicians and scientists often face a crossroads in their careers when they want to start a family. Some may delay pregnancy, struggle with infertility, or consider adoption. “There is no right or wrong answer, only what you want,” she said. Many women physicians may face burnout as they juggle family and career responsibilities. “You must evaluate yourself and ask, ‘Is this still what I want to do? Am I still passionate about my career?’”