Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Dr. Mom

Barbara Bensoussan

They’re frum mothers, dealing with children, Shabbos guests, and community obligations. They’re doctors, dealing with life-and-death decisions, and grueling hours. How do they balance both?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

 Mishpacha image

“I think most MDs are Type-A people who want to do everything well,” says Jessica Triest, a fifth-year attending physician in emergency medicine at Beaumont Hospital in Detroit. “You want to be a good wife, mother, cook — but you’re working 80 hours a week! Something has to give”

A n old joke tells of a distraught Jewish mother who runs to a lifeguard. “Help!” she cries. “My son the doctor is drowning!”

Everyone laughs at this stereotypical mother, but historically, Jews have proudly counted medical experts among our midst, and the prestige has only increased as medicine has grown in complexity and effectiveness.

These days, however, “My daughter the doctor” is increasingly common in frum circles — not that it’s an easy path. Frum female doctors-to-be embark on this challenging training process at the same time that they’re negotiating shidduchim, marriage, pregnancy, and raising young children. How do they keep it all together and come out on top?

Lifelong Dream or Surprise Career?

“I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was in elementary school,” says Shevie Kassai, a fourth-year general surgery resident at the University of Colorado in Denver. Shevie was exposed to the medical field from childhood: Her father owns and operates a long-term care management company, her mother is a registered nurse who used to bring her along to work, and her sister is a physician assistant. “Then I have another sister who’s an attorney, and my parents joke, ‘Where did we go wrong?’” Shevie says. She recalls her general studies principal at Bais Yaakov of Denver being particularly supportive of her dream. “Even when others discouraged me, looked down on my goals, or balked at them, she encouraged me.”

Similarly, Rivky Brown always felt drawn to medicine, even though she’s the first person in her family to become a doctor. (The closest thing to an MD in her family is her grandfather’s doctorate in chemical engineering.) Her father had learned in Lakewood until he took a position as rav of a shul in West Orange, New Jersey, at which point Rivky was sent to Bruriah High School. “I’ve always been inquisitive and liked math and science,” Rivky says. “I taught high school math and science while in college.” She wanted to marry a man who, like her father, would learn long-term, so she set her sights on a career that would allow her to support a family. (Her husband is still learning.)

After attending seminary at BJJ, she enrolled in engineering school on the premise that if medical school didn’t work out, she could always go into biomedical engineering. But she was accepted at Rutgers University, where she enrolled in an MD/PhD program. “It’s a long program — eight years,” she says. “But once you’re accepted, medical school is paid for, along with a stipend.

 

You sacrifice a couple years of working, but it’s a good way to make it through financially.” On the other hand, she cautions, “You really have to love research — which I do.” Rivky is currently doing her residency in dermatology in Miami, where she has about a year left, conducting research on inflammation and immunological diseases.

Miri Lieberman describes herself as a “regular girl from Flatbush,” who never dreamed she’d end up in medicine. “I went to high school at Masores Bais Yaakov, and medicine was not something girls were encouraged to go into,” she says. “Most were directed toward Touro College and professions like speech and occupational therapy.”

She went to Brooklyn College, where she found her core chemistry class extremely interesting. Her frum professor encouraged her to pursue more science. “I did very well, and another professor suggested I go into medicine,” she says. The idea took root. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 569)

Related Stories

Blogging for Bread and Butter

C. Rosenberg

Blogs are increasingly a way to earn a substantial living. Successful bloggers and marketing experts...

Wings for Every Child

Barbara Bensoussan

Esther Gutwein started her career as graduate student doing psychological evaluations. Today she man...

The Heat Is On

Libi Astaire

Along the way, people figured out how to keep their homes at least somewhat warm, employing simple m...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Not a Newspaper
Shoshana Friedman A deeper difference between newspapers and magazines
Services in Shards
Rabbi Moshe Grylak “Such a painful, malicious lie!”
The Pittsburgh Protests: All Politics All the Time
Yonoson Rosenblum The old rule — “no enemies on the left” — still applies
Danger: School Crossing
Eytan Kobre The hypocrisy of YAFFED’s assertion is breathtaking
Real Laughter and Real Tears
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger The two sides of a life lived with emunah
Work/Life Solutions with Eli Langer
Moe Mernick I was proud to be “that guy with the yarmulke”
Is Ktchong! a Mitzvah? When Prayer and Charity Collide
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman These cannot both be done effectively at the same time
An Honest Shidduch
Jacob L. Freedman “Baruch Hashem I’m cured, and this will be my secret”
A Blessing in Disguise
Riki Goldstein “I never thought the song would catch on as it has”
Ishay and Motti Strike a Common Chord
Riki Goldstein Bringing together two worlds of Jewish music
What’s your favorite Motzaei Shabbos niggun?
Riki Goldstein From the holy and separate back to the mundane
Rightfully Mine
Faigy Peritzman Don’t regret the job you didn’t land; it was never yours
Growing Greener Grass
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Nurture your blessings and watch them blossom
My Way or the High Way
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt We know what we want — but do we know what He wants?