What was my biggest obstacle?
In truth, I never was aware of any obstacle to pursuing my dream of becoming a physician. I was fortunate to have attended medical school with my husband, William Rheuban. Our careers developed on parallel tracks and we have done all possible to support and facilitate one another in this process, despite what at times can be a relatively chaotic lifestyle.
As a physician in an academic setting, my initial career focused on teaching and clinical service full time. My personal process of promotion and tenure was somewhat lengthier than that experienced by a number of my male colleagues. My husband and I chose to begin our family shortly after finishing our fellowship training and the demands of raising a young family (three children in three years)our priorityalong with the demands of clinical servicerequired that many of my scholarly pursuits be deferred. However, once the children became school aged, my capacity to pursue such research and scholarly activities increased. A revision of our promotions and tenure document, which included rewards for diverse scholarly activities, and recognition of teaching in the promotions process, contributed to my ability to achieve promotion to professor of pediatrics with tenure.
How do I make a difference?
As a pediatric cardiologist, I try to make a difference by being available to and sensitive and supportive of my patients and their families, who face the frightening and serious hardships of congenital heart disease. As an administrator (medical director of Telemedicine), I have tried to impact the well being of our rural constituents by enhancing access to health care services and health-related distance learning. In this regard, I have been honored to play a role as an advocate for telehealth-related issues, in federal and state policy arenas. In all this, I hope to serve as a role model to students and young physicians.
Who was my mentor?
I have had many mentors, all who have contributed to my professional development. My mother, Ruth Schulder, has been my most admired role model, in her tenacious ability to raise a family, pursue a career and lead a gracious well-rounded life. Martha Carpenter, M.D., has served as my clinical mentor. No one surpasses her skills as a pediatric cardiologist. Robert Carey, M.D., the longest standing dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, remains another cherished mentor. His leadership and trust allowed me to develop my professional and leadership skills. In the arena of advocacy, Congressman Rick Boucher has provided me with unwavering mentorship in the process of implementing policy change.
How has my career evolved over time?
Having joined the University of Virginia School of Medicine faculty as a full time clinician-educator, my career has evolved in unexpected and unplanned ways, in part because of colleagues who have offered me opportunities for professional development and challenges. In my capacity as associate dean for continuing medical education and medical director of telemedicine, I have been honored to play a small advocacy role in federal legislation (Congressional testimony), Federal Communications Commission policy, and national society activities, all of which have been exceptionally rewarding.