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The Greater the Education, The Greater the Reward (and Risk)

Inspired by this week’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast episode with Whitney Bator, Doctor of Dental Surgery, who began her pursuit of a profession in medicine beginning in high school and ultimately found success after years of education and training.

I ask my son often what he wants to be when he grows up because I am genuinely interested in and delighted by what ideas are driving his unique mind, and what lights his soul on fire. Without fail his response is always along the lines of paleontologist, conservationist, or zoologist –he loves animals and facts and research and the list goes on. Do you remember your own unwavering conviction when adults would ask you, with earnest (or perhaps they were just making child appropriate small talk) what you wanted to be when you grew up? Your response likely changed any number of times, but whatever that dream career was in the given moment that the question was asked, you were unshakeable in your response…that is until you had your first encounter with doubt and uncertainty.

Despite our ever-evolving interests and passions, there are certain career paths that necessitate certainty (even if only temporary) in their pursuit due to the financial, personal, and educational sacrifices required.

Physician Shortage

According to data recently published by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) the United States will see a shortage of up to nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032 due to demand increasing at rates faster than supply can meet.

  • The shortage will include both primary care and specialty care providers.
  • The major factor driving demand for physicians continues to be a growing, aging population.
  • The supply of physician assistants (Pas) and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) is projected to continue to increase ultimately leading to an over saturation of providers in these fields.
  • The shortage will most drastically affect historically underserved and rural areas, but will be felt (and already is) by patients everywhere.

The Risk | Our nation is facing a dire shortage of medical providers.

The Reward | For those interested in pursuing a career in medicine, there is job security, opportunity, and a 6-figure salary on the other side of all the sacrifices made.


Increased Interest

Health-care and medical pathways have always been at the forefront of interest for high school career education programs, but the pandemic has only further accelerated this demand according to EducationWeek.

  • Students see a need and want to be a part of the solution.
  • “Health care, like most career fields, took a massive hit in the immediate wake of the coronavirus, with 1.5 million health-care jobs lost from February to April of last year. But as the virus spread, health care lost fewer jobs and bounced back more quickly than the U.S. labor market as a whole.”

The Risk | Hands-on training is a challenge, both for high school students in work-study and job-shadowing positions and in residency programs and placements for medical students.

The Reward | The predicted physician shortage will be met with a supply of adaptable, innovative, and compassionate providers who received their education in the midst of a global pandemic.  Students are not being scared away from the profession, in fact, one of the educators surveyed by EducationWeek noted that of her “18 seniors in the medical pathway last spring, a dozen were put on the state’s nurse aide registry after graduation.”


Is There a Doctor in the House?

The truth is, if you, or someone in your life wants to pursue a career in medicine, it is never too late to do so, and there are many ways to climb the rungs on the ladder to achieve a successful career filled with rewards after taking calculated risks along the way.

  • Explore Your Options | If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in medicine, investigate the profession as much as possible before you begin climbing the ladder. Interview local doctors and specialists, seek out clinical experience and job shadowing, and ensure the rigorous coursework is worth the rigor.
  • Experience Other Things | In our interview with Whitney Bator, DDS, she offered this advice to her younger self and those interested in pursuing a career that requires financial, personal and educational sacrifices like medicine and law; she advised listeners to take time to explore other interests and pursuits to ensure the sacrifices to be made won’t be made in vain.

  • Do Your Homework | Know the academic prerequisites for admission, find an academic advisor who will help guide you in your endeavors, and take advantage of secondary and post-secondary opportunities like concurrent credit courses and medical certifications. Pursue extracurricular activities that will set you apart while also providing practical experience and a front row seat to the impact of your future profession; consider scholarly research positions, working as a medical scribe, or volunteering at a local clinic.
  • Fund Your Future | While debt is an inevitable risk for the reward of a career in medicine, you can mitigate how much of that risk you take on by being proactive in finding funding. Here is an incredible resource compiled by Kevin Keith, a third-year medical student at the Medical University of South Carolina on getting started.
  • Set Your Course & Your Boundaries | Once you’ve determined your educational and career path, it’s important that you know what to say NO to so that you can preserve your YESES for the ones that are the best. You will likely have years of saying NO to things you would like to do in order to say YES to the things you have to do in the pursuit of your goal.  Find the people you can turn to who will understand your current sacrifices, who will support you, and who will love you through this season.

“There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” –Nelson Mandela

With every career path there are risks and rewards, and sacrifices made in the pursuit of becoming a paleontologist or a pathologist.  If it sets your soul on fire, the sacrifices are never made in vain.


Worlds’ Toughest Job. Mom.

blog1Thank you, Mom

After watching an online greeting card company’s humorous and touching Mother’s Day tribute World’s Toughest Job video, I’m convinced that a day isn’t enough to thank the woman who has devoted her life to making ours better — Mom.

They say that you never truly appreciate your mother until you become one yourself. The significance of those words reveals itself as quickly as the positive result on that little stick from the drug store. Nine months of mood swings, soreness, fatigue, anxiety and the more unmentionable discomforts (you remember what I’m talking about) are followed by the physical trauma of forcing something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon. Then, not only is a sweet little screaming bundle of joy and responsibility born, a mother is as well.

The incalculable amount of sacrifice and labor that is coupled with that title only becomes clearer with time. You say goodbye to a good night’s sleep, spontaneous decisions of any kind, adult time and personal space. You say hello to rogue Legos and clothing scattered like Easter eggs throughout the house, hours of scrubbing surfaces with mysterious and (worse) not-so-mysterious stains, bathroom breaks becoming team efforts and previously viewed cartoons on movie night. You clean, cook, encourage, provide, wipe away tears, kiss owies, put pictures on the fridge and worry everyday that it’s not enough.

Once we grasp the enormity of this awesome undertaking, it’s astonishing to think that someone did all of this for us. Perhaps she isn’t perfect, but she has devoted her existence to keep us alive and prepare us to face the world on our own with no small amount of nurturing love and hard work. So, as I finally put my child to sleep after our nightly ritual of bedtime negotiations and retire, exhausted, to my room to finish some work and (God willing) get a few hours of rest before waking up to a new day of responsibilities, I thank you, Mom, for doing all this and so much more for me.

Though, it’s difficult to express how much her efforts mean to us, with Mother’s Day on the horizon, all we can do is try, remaining ever grateful that she took on the world’s toughest job.


Motherhood. One Of The Toughest Jobs.

Mother of Invention

blogGone are the days when the ideal homemaker sported a perfect coif, heels and pearls while tidying the house, setting the table and preparing a casserole dinner. Though I’m not sure women in my family ever strove for this standard (unless ponytails, slippers and sweats count), things have come a long way for moms since our grandmothers and great-grandmothers set up house.

Just a century ago, life expectancy averaged in the mid-50s, infant mortality was high and women had limited job options. We couldn’t vote, couldn’t hold office and very rarely held executive positions. Women’s contributions were relegated, for the most part, to the home, a home that bore little resemblance to the appliance-packed quarters of today.

Whenever a tough day gets the better of me, I think about these bygone times, open the hallway closet and look lovingly upon my Dyson. Sure, it sounds like something small (unless you’ve seen the price tag on one of those British-born vacuums), but if you consider how people fared during preindustrial days, you’ll appreciate the many little modern conveniences that make running a household a much smoother prospect.


I once had a pre-nuclear panic attack when it was my turn to host Thanksgiving dinner and my oven and microwave teamed up and decided they had enough of my too-few-and-far-between second-rate culinary attempts. What was I supposed to do? Cook everything stovetop? Are you kidding?

Fueled by angst and anxiety, I managed to eke out a makeshift meal while attempting to corral my then-two-year-old son, thinking that things couldn’t possibly be more stressful. Yeah. Right.

Before supermarkets and the availability of all those shiny domestic devices nestled in our kitchens, women usually made family meals from scratch in clunky, cast-iron stoves that required vigil maintenance. Much care was spent sifting ashes, lighting fires, carrying coal or wood, and applying thick, black wax to keep surfaces from rusting.

Back then, women baked bread, butchered meat, plucked chickens, kept a garden, ground spices and created conserves among other things, occupying most of their time. You know, in the good old days.


Believe it or not, cleaning was an even more arduous task than cooking, requiring around 40 hours per week. Soot and smoke from stoves, fireplaces and lamps blackened walls, dirtied drapes and soiled furniture. Each day, glass had to be wiped and wicks trimmed or replaced. Plus, floors were scrubbed, rugs beaten, trappings dusted and windows washed.

Of course, we can all relate. Pulling out that pre-moistened wipe, pushing around that self-propelled vacuum or wiping away sprays from that bottle of cleaning solution can be quite taxing. I need a glass of wine just thinking about it.


By far my least favorite undertaking, washing clothes often feels like the most tedious, thankless task. With a little boy on the loose, dirty clothes amass at a relentless pace. On a weekly basis, I strain and sigh as I haul around a basket piled high with grimy garments, dreading the process of folding and replacing them only to find them strewn about by week’s end.

But before washing machines were standard, not only did women have to lug around heavy bundles of dirty linens, many also had to transport and heat about 50 gallons of water from a (hopefully) nearby source to complete a single load. This involved soaking, scrubbing, boiling, stirring and rinsing the items before wringing them out and pinning them up one by one to dry.

And since there was no laundry detergent at the time, lye soap was typically made from animal fat leftover from when meats had been cured for storage. Dishpan hands have nothing on what these women’s digits endured.

Then, the following day was reserved for ironing and perhaps mending. You know, using fibers harvested from cotton or flax fields that had been hand-spun into thread.

I salute those women before us, yet despite how far we’ve come, motherhood still ranks as one of the toughest jobs. But at least we have more help from our partners who take on domestic duties as we share responsibility in the workforce. Plus, we can be grateful that there are a lot more conveniences available to the average household, not to mention a lot less soot.