What was my biggest obstacle?
Children, husband and money. (I know this is more than one!) When I started medical school, the children were 18, 16, 15 and 12 years of age. To date, none are happy with my returning to school. My husband was an alcoholic, which in fact made it a necessity to pick myself up by my bootstraps. Money was short. However, I was fortunate to be able to teach through most of my career. When I went to medical school, my stepfather and mother loaned me $3,000 to pay the two-year tuition.
How do I make a difference?
I am hoping that I have made a difference by mentoring others. By chance I went into a surgical specialty, urology. The mentors at the Medical College insisted that I should do a surgery residency and the urologists at George Washington University encouraged me to go into urology. I did not realize at the time that I would become the fifth woman urologist. I have been fortunate at every point of my career to use my inner resources to grow even when bad things happened to me. I have been able to meld the world of science and medicine hopefully to the benefit of patients and society. I have used my skills organizationally to lead the American Medical Women's Association and to encourage other women urologists through the Society of Women in Urology (which I founded) and a variety of other areas.
Who was my mentor?
One has more than one mentor in life. My strongest mentors were my mother and grandmother. My grandmother danced on the stage the world around before settling as a single mother in a small town in New Jersey with four children. She was the doctor, the vet and the philosopher of this village. There was nothing she could not do. With a maternal lineage of strength there was no thought as to whether it could be done. Other mentors have included a variety of peers, friends and professors who helped with the path.
How has my career evolved over time?
For me, change was a necessity. How has it evolved? There is no part of my life I would eliminate nor perhaps repeat. Every part of my education and training has added depth. I went from being a housewife in Palo Alto (where I was involved in too many community activities), to graduate school, medical school, residency, academic practice with the Navy and the Food and Drug Administration, and finally to a free-lance consultant in urology/endocrinology. And through it all, life is (and must be) a continuing building process. In between, I still try to keep up with arts, for example painting and music.