Female providers at AdventHealth Medical Group share their views on staying healthy in body, mind, and spirit.
With May hosting Mother’s Day, it’s natural to focus on women. Working women, busy homemakers, or retirees generally have to deal with full schedules. No matter what your age or the time of your life, stress is a part of it. Balancing life and career, caring for children, tending to older parents, or other life issues, you must take time for yourself. Time to relax, refresh, and renew your spirit.
Female medical providers at AdventHealth Medical Group in Lake County are no different from other working women, wives, and mothers who juggle busy lives.
Gathered in the AdventHealth Waterman conference room for dinner and discussion, the women gave a glimpse of their world.
“It is a juggling act; there’s always something to be doing,” says Dr. Valerie Thomas, a pediatrician who admits to working many hours yet has enjoyed three decades of caring for children while also being a wife and mother.
“You have to take time to do other things, to be with your family, and do things for yourself to be strong and healthy,” she says.
Valerie begins each day at 5:30am with an hour of exercise.
“Exercise is the best medicine,” she says.
Her colleagues agree.
“Exercise is definitely the best,” adds Gina Guzzi, a physician assistant in urology with Drs. Michael Fountain and Jason Gerboc. “I exercise in the evenings, like 6 to 7:30. I run and do stuff at the gym. I always pretend that I know what I am doing at the gym.”
Dr. Marilyn Mayne, obstetrician and gynecologist, enjoys running, walking, and biking around a lake; pediatric hospitalist Dr. Sherryl Gordon-Spence uses a treadmill at her home for exercise.
During the dinner conversation, Valerie and Sherryl discovered they both planned to become obstetricians until they fell for the babies in medical school rotations and decided they’d rather care for children throughout their early years.
“My favorite part of being a pediatrician is I like watching a father fall in love with his daughter. It is the most beautiful thing seeing a big man get wrapped around his baby’s finger,” Sherryl says.
Valerie cherishes receiving high school and college graduation announcements. “That’s the beauty of pediatrics, you get to watch your patients grow up,” she says.
As female medical providers, the women believe it comes naturally to them to empathize and understand what it’s like when a mother worries about her sick child.
“Sometimes just a cup of coffee and visiting with the mother means more,” Sherryl says. “It is very humbling.”
Gina works with an older population, such as families of patients with dementia.
“You may have to explain something 15 times in 15 different ways, but maybe that 16th time is when it strikes the chord,” she says. “It’s worth it when the lightbulb comes on.”
“I’m a physician assistant and have two male doctors that I work with, and it often catches me off guard when a 65-year-old male chooses me over the men who may relate to them better,” says Gina, who often hears men say that they appreciate the time she takes to listen. “I do see those who seek me out, and the female patients will say, ‘I’m so glad there is a lady here in the office to talk to about this.’”
Valerie finds moms relate to her as a mother and want to know things she did in caring for her children.
The doctors caution against relying heavily on the internet or “Dr. Google” for health concerns.
“Parents sometimes are more worried than they should be, because they don’t understand what they are reading,” Valerie says.
So, who do the women go to for a sounding board in their lives?
“There’s always your mother,” Sherryl says, grinning.
Ditto for Gina. Gina’s mother is a nurse, and she enjoys having a common bond of both being in the medical field.
“For me, I still have questions for my mom about laundry or ‘What should I cook for dinner?’” she says.
Sherryl is appreciative of instrumental mentors in her life.
“My pediatrician in Jamaica was the first person I looked up to, and that was a role model going into pediatrics,” says the newlywed, whose husband is a physician, too.
The women are members of a physicians’ providers group that meets for a monthly restaurant dinner outing.
“It’s nice because we realize we are not alone when we may have struggles being a professional, being married, coping with children of different age groups, and we’re sharing parenting tips, school tips,” Sherryl says. “It’s good to realize that you are not isolated with the experiences that you are having.”
The women made it clear with an empathetic “No!” that they do not watch TV medical shows.
“It makes me anxious and very frustrated. They’re not realistic,” Gina says.
“I’ll watch old movies from the ’30s, ’40s, the Turner Classic Movies,” Valerie adds.
So, what other ways do these women unwind? By taking a nap?
“No naps,” Valerie says. “What really relaxes me is going shopping.”
“Looking for good bargains,” Sherryl chimes in.
“The thrill of a hunt, all by myself,” Valerie adds. “Shopping for clothing, shoes, it doesn’t matter. It makes no difference.”
Being unplugged appeals to Marilyn.
“For me, it’s to make sure when I am off on vacation, that I am unplugged and away from it all,” she says, grinning.
But when it comes to working, the providers say they enjoy their chosen careers and the patients they serve.
“I tell every graduating senior going away to college, ‘Whatever you end up doing with your life, make sure you enjoy it,’” Valerie says, “because you are going to spend more time doing that than you are going to spend at home.”
This evening provided an opportunity for women in healthcare to enjoy time together with peers, something every woman appreciates. Having a place where you can be honest, caring, and supportive is important for women, especially in today’s busy world. AdventHealth encourages creating a life of whole health by addressing not only physical health, but emotional and spiritual needs of every person.
Mind, body, and spirit Q&A
What would you do if you had an extra hour in your day?
Dr. Mamie Rogers, OB/GYN: “I would actually do a couple things. I would spend a half-hour working out and then enjoy a half-hour of meditation. Meditation is great because it allows you to reflect on what has happened throughout the day.”
What things are still on your to-do list?
Dr. Marilyn Mayne, OB/GYN: “I really want to live in West Africa for about a year, just to practice obstetrics and gynecology, and maybe help deliver babies in a village somewhere and teach safe practices in becoming a mother.”
Are you kind to yourself?
Gina Guzzi, urology physician assistant: “I try to be kind to myself. Something I’m working on as I get older is being mindful how we speak to ourselves. If you’re kind to yourself in your thoughts and actions, then you’ll treat others with respect and be a positive factor in their lives.”
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Dr. Mamie Rogers: “I love sweets: brownies, cookies, cakes, pies. I have a sweet tooth and few others and I eat chocolate chip cookies about every day.”
What do you do to keep yourself healthy?
Dr. Valerie Thomas, pediatrician: “I exercise every day for an hour. I do whatever I can do that doesn’t hurt me: work-out, dance, walk. I’ve been exercising ever since I was a teenager.”
What is your favorite exercise?
Gina Guzzi: “I like to run. I meet with a group of friends after work and it’s a great way to decompress after a workday. I’ve run two half-marathons—one in Key West and one at Disney World.”
What’s always in your fridge?
Dr. Sherryl Gordon-Spence, pediatric hospitalist: “I am into juicing. I always have my fruits, and I have my blueberries, kale, spinach, as well as other things in my fridge.”
What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Dr. Sherryl Gordon-Spence: “For me, it was learning to laugh at yourself, stay humble, and not take life too seriously. I find if you get into a tough situation and you’re tensed or angry, it can rub off on other people and it makes folks uncomfortable. Trying to stay calm, trying to get people relaxed, you get a better outcome.”
As a pediatrician, she passes on the same advice to new parents: “Take a deep breath, especially new moms.When the mom’s get to that happy, smiling, zen-like glow in their postpartum recovery, that is when the breast milk comes in. If you’re overthinking it and stressed out, it takes longer for the body to cooperate.
What would you say to your younger self?
Dr. Rosemary Cirelli, pulmonary and sleep medicine: I would tell my younger self to be kind to my body and to take care of it better. I would also tell my younger self to protect my knees because that’s been the one limitation to my older self.
What day in your life would you like to relive?
Dr. Rosemary Cirelli: “It would be the last day I saw my mother before she passed away. I wish I would’ve spent more time with her. She was sleeping on the last day I saw her. I kissed her on the forehead but didn’t wake her up. She passed away unexpectedly several days later.”
What inspired you to become a pediatrician?
Dr. Valerie Thomas: “I wanted to have a role in helping children to grow up to be healthy and successful. When I was in medical school doing OB/GYN rotation, I thought I wanted to be an obstetrician until I realized what I really liked about the OB/GYN was the babies. So, I changed courses. I’ve been in practice for 31 years, so I’ve watched them all grow up. I see their babies, some are third generations, and I feel I’ve contributed to their lives. It’s been the best thing, and I really enjoy what I do.”
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Dr. Marilyn Mayne: “I would have become a linguist. I love languages. Unfortunately, I only know French and English, but if I wasn’t doing this (OB/GYN), I would have probably learned about seven languages and (be) working for the United Nations or something like that.”
What does spirituality mean to you?
Gina Guzzi: “For me, it means mostly being at peace with yourself and feeling confident (about) what you do on a daily basis.”
To learn more visit AdventHealthMedicalGroup.com or call 407.599.6111 for appointment availability.