The extensive demands of medicine and motherhood mean many physician moms, and physicians considering motherhood, feel intense pressure to choose between being a mom and being a doctor. The Physician Moms Group (PMG) was created with a goal to ease that pressure for new moms and offer support from those who’ve come before them.
Hala Sabry, DO, founded PMG in 2014 when she was eight months pregnant with her second child and worrying about how she could logistically provide care both to her growing family and her patients.
Offering mentorship and support
The group started with questions about things like nanny protocol, but early members of the group quickly turned the conversation toward their career experiences. With over 65,000 members, PMG is now a global community of women physicians who network and share professional expertise through online forums and in-person events.
“We shared stories about coworkers making disparaging comments about our decisions to have children, suggesting we have to choose between being a mom and a doctor,” says Dr. Sabry, an emergency medicine physician. Members have also expressed frustration with the misconception that women physicians should wait to advance their careers until their kids grow up, she says.
Many members of PMG additionally have a story of some type of gender inequity despite years of professional training.
“Throughout my training, I have had many instances where I have to speak up and say, yes, I am the doctor, even when I’ve been wearing a white coat and an identifiable badge,” says Samya Mohammad, DO, a member of PMG.
The collaboration and support from PMG allows women physicians to combat these disparities in order to better health care not just for themselves and their families, but for their co-workers and their patients.
A changing health care landscape
The first step in finding a solution to problems related to gender inequity is recognizing that they exist, says Dr. Mohammad. As the health care landscape changes for women in medicine, PMG is at the forefront of the shift, working to achieve equality through mentorship of aspiring women physicians.
“I spoke with a male physician recently whose daughter is interested in going into medicine, but his wife is discouraging her, telling her she will never have a life or time to spend with family,” says Dr. Sabry. “He asked me to talk to his daughter and let her know what it’s really like.”
Like early pioneers of gender equality in medicine such as Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO, and Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, the first female physician in the U.S., PMG members are working to dispel inaccuracies about women in medicine and trailblazing the way for future female physicians.
More women than ever are applying to medical school, with almost half of enrolled medical students being women. Intimately understanding the obstacles they may face, PMG wants to make sure these future female physicians can be part of an uplifting community no matter where they work.
“If we don’t replenish and support ourselves, we’re going to burn out, and then we won’t be any good for our patients,” says Dr. Sabry.
As PMG grows and obtains greater resources, the group is planning to offer formal mentorship programs, mental health care support, and domestic violence support in the future. Want to join PMG? Visit MyPMG.com for more information.