As an extension of our Women in Medicine Month celebration in September, we continue to shine a spotlight on our incredible female clinicians and the invaluable role they play in providing exceptional care to our patients. Each month, we’ll introduce you to the women who were highlighted in our Women in Medicine Month tribute and get to know more about what it means to them to be a woman in health care today.
We sat down with Jennifer Hernandez, M.D., FACOG, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Obstetrix Medical Group of Texas in Fort Worth. Dr. Hernandez joined the group immediately following fellowship training and has been in practice with Obstetrix for the past eight years. Check out the highlights below, and click to view the full interview!
How did you get into medicine? Did a woman inspire you to enter the field?
I had my own internal desire to be a doctor. My parents say I wanted to be a doctor since I was three years old, so I had this sense that that is what my goal and dream career would be. But I did have a lot of mentors along the way; one of them specifically was my own pediatrician. She was a woman and I really looked up to her and wanted to follow in her footsteps. So, a lot of mentorship along the way and lots of women helped guide me to where I am today.
What are some positives that come from being a woman in medicine?
I think it’s having a career, following your goals and providing excellent health care for members of the community. In my case, I take care of high-risk pregnant women and so I’m a woman taking care of women, and I love that. I love that I can relate to my patients and, vice versa, they relate to me. I love talking to them about my own pregnancy and helping them through feeling like they’re being cared for by somebody that understands. I think it’s very relatable and meaningful to the patients to connect to their health care provider and feel like you have a relationship with them, and I think a woman taking care of a woman is one of the most important ways that I can do that.
What advice do you have for women who may be applying to medical school or entering into the medical field for the first time?
I encourage everybody to follow their dreams. Don’t let somebody tell you, you can’t do it. I had a lot of people tell me I couldn’t do it, and I didn’t listen to them. I was stubborn and said, “Well, you know what, I think I can,” and I did. And I am really grateful that I continued to do what I wanted to do and followed my dreams instead of being told that I couldn’t. I definitely encourage young women if they have that dream or that little twinge of desire to go into medicine, to do it. Just try it, follow your dreams; you’ll find your passion and that’s what’s most important— being happy in what you’re doing. And then all the other challenges seem a little bit easier if you have found what interests you and what you’re passionate about it. It makes it easier day-to-day to do what you’re doing and facing those challenges.
How can women physicians best support fellow women physicians?
I think it’s just women supporting women in general. I think that’s an everyday challenge, whether its healthcare or not. But I think women that have this common bond of health care, especially women physicians, we definitely should support each another. We’ve been through the ringer together. We all understand what we’ve been through and how we got to where we are, and so I think being supportive of each another is so important. I’m super lucky to have a wonderful group of partners that are all supportive of each other. So I’m very lucky. I know that not everybody is as lucky but you’ve got to find that group that supports you so you feel like you’re part of a work family when you go to work and that makes it so much easier and more gratifying every day.
I love the idea of supporting women and showing young women that it’s possible to follow your dreams and do what you want to do. Becoming a doctor is challenging but it’s worth it if that’s what’s in your heart. I support someone who wants to follow that dream.