Interview with Barb Meyer-Reed
GC Graduation Year
Why or how did you choose your field? Were there specific experiences that influenced you?
My mom is an RN, but did not work outside the home much when I was young. I have relatives who were family doctors, and they probably provided some modeling, but I think my biggest draw into medicine was that I enjoy the physical and social sciences a lot, and really enjoy the humanities (especially language) as well. Medicine seemed to provide a good blend of these interests. And I must say that I have found that to really be true in my professional experiences.
I worked as a nurse’s aide and medical assistant in various places along the way, and these experiences confirmed my interest in primary care as well.
Also, there seemed to be more need for people in medicine than in some of the other fields I was interested in, and while some of my interests (such as literature) can be pursued avocationally, that would be harder to do (and illegal!) in medicine!
What’s exciting about your job or this field?
I still feel that there is little more interesting in the world than the human body – unless it would be the human mind! In primary care, we get to deal directly every day with the care of both.
What has been a challenge in your career journey?
I think balancing family, church, friends and career is a huge challenge for any professional woman, and that is certainly true in medicine, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Life is all about choosing how to spend our time.
How did your liberal arts education assist you in your journey? Are there specific examples you can offer?
I am very happy that I got to study and travel broadly in my undergrad years, because medical education can easily take over for awhile and I wouldn’t trade away any of those great experiences.
Besides that, though, I think a broad education and experience are very helpful in primary care, because our patients come from all kinds of life experiences, and the more experience and personal maturity we can bring to our interactions with them, the more we can understand their goals and perspectives. I use elements of my liberal arts education every day at work – the things we learn in medical school and residency are not nearly as useful to our patients if we cannot communicate well with them.
What advice would you give to a young person just starting out?
Listen to your own inner call. Cultivate relationships with mentors that you trust and admire. Don’t undersell your abilities. The advice of the apostle Paul to “have a sane estimate of yourself” is always well-heeded. I think for women in particular, this may mean learning to stay centered and move forward with inner confidence once you know what your call is.