Hometown: Glin, Co. Limerick, Ireland
Family: My husband Joel and three children: Luke (5), Sive (2) and Fia (3 months)
Last good book read: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Favorite daytime beverage: Coffee
Motto: “Grow fearless”
Why did you become a doctor?
My dad was a vet and as a child, I loved being his assistant. I helped him with cesarean sections in the field, operating on small animals and nursing them back to health. He paid me in ice cream! I intuitively knew back then that one day I would pursue a career in the health field.
Why did you choose this particular specialty?
Early in my career, I didn’t have a clear career trajectory and in many respects that has been a good. It left me open to opportunities. When I joined the faculty at the University of Florida the adolescent gynecology and student health clinics needed a physician and my department chair offered me the position. That was my introduction to the field of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. I liken the experience to trying on the right wedding dress, the fit resonated within!
Is it different than what you thought? How?
Medicine as a whole has been more challenging both personally and professionally that I ever expected. It has also been more meaningful that I could ever have imagined.
What is the biggest misconception about your field?
When I meet new people and tell them I’m a Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecologist, they often look confused and a little horrified. I imagine they are wondering why in the world do girls need a gynecologist? In actuality we, as a subspecialty, provide essential and age-appropriate gynecological and reproductive healthcare to girls and young women.
What is the one thing you wish patients knew and/or understood about doctors?
We devote considerable time behind the scenes to patient care. The face-to-face encounter is only a small portion of what we do.
What is your opinion of managed care and how does this affect you and your practice?
While the intention is noble, better quality healthcare at a lesser cost is hard to achieve. Managed care results in more guidelines, more documentation and less time to spend directly with our patients.
What’s one thing your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?
During medical school, I took a year “off the books” to teach English to children in Nepal and explore the lands of Southeast Asia. This experience was formative, and I returned to medical school with renewed focus and perspective.
What’s the best advice you ever received? Who gave it to you? It’s hard to single out one piece of advice. But in this season of my life, the “Breathing Room” series by Andy Stanley has wonderfully informed how my husband and I choose to live life. It speaks to the lack of margin both relationally and financially in our lives today as well as the connection between our faith and our willingness to create margin.
If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be?
I’m not sure. Math was my favorite subject in school and I love problem-solving, so it would have to be something that combined those interests.
Who are your heroes in healthcare?
Catherine and Reginald Hamlin. To quote Catherine Hamlin, “I’m doing what I love doing and it’s not a hardship for me to be working in Ethiopia with these women.”
Who are your heroes in real life?
Joel Abraham (you may not have heard of him, he’s my husband!). Doing life with him is my greatest joy.