The Balancing Act: Motherhood and Medicine

For this edition of the interview, I had the opportunity to sit with one of my favorite people, Dr. Dafina Wise-Allen. Dr. Allen started her undergraduate career at the University of Florida where she obtained her B.S in Nutritional Sciences. She went to medical school at Wayne State University and then residency at Advocates Illinois Masonic for Family Medicine. After residency, she completed a Faculty Development Fellowship with a focus on Community Health in 2015. Dr. Allen currently practices Family Medicine in Michigan. We have been friends for more than a decade and I was so excited to share some of her “awesomeness” with you!

 

What is the biggest challenge you have faced being a mom and physician?

Time management. I am always balancing trying to make sure I give 100% to my family and giving the best to my patients. I want to be present with my husband and children when I am with them. I also want to be able able to read and learn more about my patients so that I can be the best doctor for them. I think the balance of those two things has been difficult.

 

What do you do for “you time”?

I would say prayer, reading, and exercise. Each have kept me grounded and helped me stay focused on the most important things in life.

 

Have you encountered sexism at work?

Yes, I feel like I experience that  from patients in the ways that they will be patronizing. For example, they say, “Hi Honey” or they will call me “Miss” instead of “Doctor”. I will see those same patient’s calling my male partner “Doctor” instead of “Mister”, and I’ve had patients assume I was a nurse instead of their physician. I have also noticed if I counsel them on something they would challenge me on what my male partner mentioned even if it’s a completely different medical situation.  From the staff I feel like they defer to my male colleague first. Also, I might be asked to do extra work. I question if it’s because I am a woman.

 

How do you make your voice heard at work when it comes to challenges?  

By by advocating for myself. Sometimes I have to say, “ No I can not work this extra day last minute” or,  “No, I can not see that extra patient today.”  I am a team player however sometimes I have to set boundaries.

 

At which point in your career training did you have your children?

I had my daugher in my fellowship year and my son as a second year attending.

 

What is your favorite thing to do with your kids?

We love anything outdoors such as the park. They are so content and happy on those walks and so am I.

 

Who makes up your colloquial village?

My husband, parents, in-laws, my sister, my brothers, and my closest friends who I consider my family. We also had awesome babysitters that we trust and have shown our kids so much love. They have been helpful for my piece of mind and have helped my husband and I grow our marriage by giving us alone time.

 

What does work/life balance mean to you?

I think it means that I would be giving enough of myself where my husband and kids feel like I am present and I am also able to give as much as I can to my patients and not be overstressed.  I know I need to find a balance for me and accept it.

 

What does being a DAME mean to you?

I think it’s about being a strong Christian Black woman who is serving God, loving her husband, kids, family, friends, and advocating for her patients.

 

What do you love about being married?

I love the partnership. I feel like you get to hang out with your best friend. I love being a team. Also when you add kids into marriage, the two of you get to share people that are extension of you and it’s the most rewarding thing in the world. You get to bring kids into the picture and the two of you love them more than anything in the world. I love the support on those rough days and you come home and have someone that gives you unconditional support through all of life’s stressors. I love sharing all the good times because laughing is the cornerstone of our marriage. God,love, laughter, humor, and raising kids has been the foundation of our marriage.

 

 

 

Thanks so much for the interview Bestie, you are an awe-inspiring human being and I love you!