April 26, 2002

Girls Night Out provides support, forum for doctors

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Dr. Gerald Hickson conducted the study at VUMC.

Girls Night Out provides support, forum for doctors

The first meeting of Girl’s Night Out was held at the University Club on April 10. Comprised solely of female physicians who care for children both at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and the surrounding areas, the event was designed to bring doctors together to discuss various issues. More than 60 participants were in attendance.

Dr. Rebecca Swan, assistant professor of Pediatrics, knows what it means to multi-task. A mother of an 8-month-old son, Swan and her husband are also in the process of adopting an infant from China. She is a general pediatrician, the residency program co-director, and the medical director for the Pediatric Acute Care Clinic, working part-time so she can care for her son. This physician and mom has a full plate and she, like many other female physicians, knows that keeping proper balance between clinical and familial responsibilities is sometimes like walking a tightrope.

Female pediatricians often find themselves in a unique situation as they care for children at work and then care for their own children at home. It can be daunting, even lonely. Swan, along with Amy Casseri, director of the Pediatric Services division, recognized a need and designed a new event that they hope will reach out to female pediatricians, both within the VUMC community and throughout the Middle Tennessee area.

After the first meeting, the program is starting to take shape. For some, it may serve as a networking opportunity — a time to meet other pediatricians and share insights. For others, it means making new friends who understand how female physicians juggle everything from pregnancy to dividing their time between work and family.

Quarterly Girls’ Night Out events have been planned. A volunteer steering committee, comprised of VUMC physicians Nikki White, assistant professor of Pediatrics, and Robbin Sinatra, assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and assistant professor of Pediatrics, and five female pediatricians from the community will shape the development of the program, including future topics.

Dr. Arnold Strauss, James C. Overall Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Department, sees Girls’ Night Out as a forum for the participants to learn skills that can help them integrate work life and home life and find success in both.

“I firmly believe that getting together with one’s colleagues and peers to discover common shared issues and talk about potential solutions is a key to professional and personal happiness,” said Strauss. “Just knowing that other women pediatricians are there to talk would seem very helpful.”

For Swan, the Girls’ Night Out program is just another example of how VUMC is supportive of female physicians. Many physicians sometimes find themselves with a full plate, but the Girls’ Night Out program can hopefully help them keep their plate balanced.