By Vanessa Calderon, MD

Raise your hand if you are a working mom in medicine. Keep it raised if you recall the stress and anxiety that came with planning your family leave and discussing options with your Medical Director and HR. Or if you returned to work and noticed the subtle (or not) frustration of colleagues when you needed to take time to pump. Or if you looked around the department for a private room to pump but came up short. Or if you had to drop everything to make an unexpected detour to your child’s school to pick them up due to illness or an emergency.

Do any of these stories sound familiar? Most working moms in medicine have probably encountered at least one or two of these obstacles while on the job. However, my experience as a working mom at Vituity has been quite different. I want to tell you a story about a nurturing environment, compassionate colleagues, and a truly caring support system when I planned my pregnancy and then seamlessly returned to work after maternity leave.

I was 10 weeks pregnant with my first child when I got accepted into the Vituity administrative fellowship. I remember feeling so proud and excited for this opportunity but, in the back of my mind, I was also apprehensive about the challenges that lay ahead. Life has a way of throwing some curveballs, right? I agonized over the prospect of having to inform my fellowship director at the time, Prentice Tom, MD, about my life-changing news. Would I be cut from the program? Would my pregnancy derail my career in ways I had not even considered? These questions and nightmare scenarios were playing on repeat in my mind.

After three months, the time came for me to finally come out of the “pregnancy closet.” I called Dr. Tom and told him the news, hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. “Congratulations!” he said. “How wonderful.” I was so relieved, not only by his understanding but also by his sincere expression of happiness for me during this exciting time in my life. Dr. Tom and my site Medical Director at the time immediately asked me what I needed and made accommodations to make me feel completely at ease. We talked about how much time off I needed, which meant an adjustment to the fellowship timeline so I could stay in the program. My Medical Director even gave me a key to his own office when I needed to access private space to pump. 

That was only the beginning. The leadership at Vituity also invested in my future so that I had access to career development opportunities when I returned to work. I am now a Medical Director, and I supervise women physicians and advanced providers who are experiencing the same challenges I encountered during my fellowship. I can anticipate their needs and “pay it forward” when it comes to the support that I received.

Half of today’s medical school graduates are women, as are over half of the advanced provider workforce. When Vituity recruits the next generation of talent, they can point to women like me who will be there to support those young physicians and advanced providers in their quest for work-life balance. And Vituity keeps coming up with innovative ways to support new families, highlighted by a $10,000 parental leave stipend and $25,000 loan offer to help cover expenses during time off.

Guess what? I gave birth to my second child last year. Although I have more responsibilities now as a Medical Director than I did during my first pregnancy, it was a relief this time around to know exactly what I could expect and the resources that Vituity had to offer me. You cannot imagine the comfort this brought me when I decided to take my second family leave. And Vituity’s support for families does not just end at childbirth. That support is established at the top. Our CEO, Mu Tomlinson, MD, regularly takes time off to coach his children’s basketball teams.

A lot of companies in today’s healthcare market tout themselves as “family friendly.” At Vituity, it is not just talk. We support families because we are one.

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