Atrium Health teammates with their families

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Mom, MD: On Motherhood and Medicine

Our doctors share the joys (and juggling) of caring for patients and kiddos.

“A toddler can do more in one unsupervised minute than most people can do in a day.”

Chpryelle Carr, MD’s favorite mom-joke speaks deeper truths, of course. As a pediatrician at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Rea Village Pediatrics and a mom at home, Dr. Carr knows all too well that both jobs demand total focus and dedication. In honor of Mother’s Day, she and several other Atrium Health mom-doctors share what it’s like to balance medicine and motherhood.

And, in just a month, Atrium Health dads will get their turn. Stay tuned!

On Balance:

  • “You can't pour from an empty cup. This applies to all mothers, whether they are stay-at-home mothers or working-outside-of-the-home mothers. Having independent hobbies and activities outside of my children helps me recharge and be a better mother because I'm a better person.”  Dr. Carr

Chpryelle Carr

  • “Taking time to reenergize and recharge means I am more productive at work and more present as a mom. With two little kids at home, the little acts of self-care – like getting a pedicure or spending quiet time at my favorite coffee shop – can help me to relax.”  Donna Graves, MD, Chair and Medical Director of Neurology, Atrium Health Neurosciences Institute

Donna Graves

  • It’s important to reserve ‘me’ time. My outlet is tennis. I try to play at least twice a week because it’s great to get some exercise, do something that makes me happy, and forces me away from the computer screen.” Antoinette Tan, MD, Medical Oncologist, Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute

Antoinette Tan

  • “Being able to feel fulfilled professionally makes me a better mother. I also incorporate my home life into my work. I enjoy sharing photos and stories about my children and hearing all about my patients’ kids and grandkids.”  Christina Vorobej, MD, Sports Medicine Physician, Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute

Christina Vorobej

  • “I have two rules: I have to exercise every day, and I have to have dinner with my family. Work can take a lot of time, but I do not let it interfere with self-care and time with my family daily.”  Cheryl Dodds, MD, Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist and Medical Director of Atrium Health Behavioral Health Davidson

Cheryl Dodds, MD

On Accepting Imperfection:

  • “Try to leave the guilt at the door. Be willing to leave the house a little dirty sometimes so that you can still spend time with your kids. Don’t focus on being that perfect person in every setting. You have to be willing to accept less than perfect and to know how to ask for help.”  Rachel Garcia, MD, Cardiologist at Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute

Rachel Garcia

  • “I have accepted that I cannot be perfect in every way. You decide what’s important to you and just do your best. For important events (soccer games, school awards), I make time to be there. The kids understand that I can’t volunteer at school, but they also know my job is important, so they accept that. We always eat dinner together as a family, even if it’s late.”  Erin Crane, MD, Gynecologic oncologist, Atrium Health’s Levine Cancer Institute

Erin Crane

  • “There are times when I do take the time to put together the Pinterest-worthy, elaborate birthday party for my kids, but other times it’s okay to take store-brought brownies to the bake sale. I try to prioritize work, home or myself based on what needs the most attention at that time.” Dr. Graves

Sharing Lessons Learned:

  • “My family makes it a priority to have family dinner every night. My family understands the demands of my job, but if I can get home at a reasonable time, we all sit and have that meal together! It truly unifies us.”  Erika Wintering, Chief APP of Pediatric Cardiac Division, Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital

Erika Wintering

  • “Planning is key. I am not a morning person, so we have everything in order at night so that we can ‘grab and go’ in the morning when we rush off to school and work.”  Dr. Graves
  • “It’s important, when possible, to make your kids’ special events. These are once-in-a-lifetime moments, so I think it’s important to plan ahead to make those events when possible. Even if you’re a little late, you want to try to be there.”  Dr. Tan
  • “No one is perfect. Your child sees your love, and that's the most important part.”  Dr. Carr
  • “I tell new moms to make sure you get six hours of sleep a day (not necessarily at night, if that is not possible) and make sure you accept help from others.” – Dr. Dodds

On Being a Doctor and a Mom:

  • “When my patients have been confronted with a life-threatening condition, they take time to reflect on what's truly important. A lot of times they'll tell me, ‘Listen, make sure you spend time with your kids, with your loved ones. Enjoy your life. Don't be so caught up in the stuff that no one's going to remember you for.’ And that helps me stay balanced and focused.”  Dr. Garcia
  • Becoming a parent has made me a better physician. Being a parent has made me a more patient and active listener. Being a parent also helps with the ability to empathize with patients. I may have a patient who’s a young mom with breast cancer. When we talk about what she’s going through – maybe with her children – I can empathize with her because I’ve been through many of those things with my own kids.”  Dr. Tan
  • “Being a pediatrician is so rewarding as I'm able to take care of and spend time with so many children. I learn mom tips all the time frommy families. Providing quality care at work while hopefully making a difference in my patients’ lives allows me to recharge at work before I come home.”  Dr. Carr

On the Joy of Motherhood:

  • “My favorite part of being a mom is watching my kids grow and develop their own personalities and interests. Seeing them run to me when I walk through the door or cuddle up with me as we settle down at night makes all the tedious tasks worth it.”  Dr. Graves
  • “My kids’ questions never end, and their curiosity for life is very inspiring for me. I love, love, love spending time with them because of that.”  Dr. Garcia
  • “There’s such a feeling of gratitude and thankfulness when I see that my children are happy and thriving and successful and healthy. And that translates to being a physician: When I’m taking care of patients, it’s all about seeing that they’re getting the treatments that they need and that they’re having a good quality of life.”  Dr. Tan
  • The joy that my children have is contagious and makes me happier. Spending time with them and playing games with them takes me back to my childhood.”  Dr. Carr
  • “My favorite part of being a mom is watching my girls develop their personalities and opinions and grow into responsible, kind, strong individuals.”  Dr. Crane
  • “I cannot imagine our lives without our children! They are the best investment we have made!”  Wintering
  • “I absolutely love being able to experience the world through the eyes of my sons and enjoy their wonder.”  Dr. Vorobej
  • "My children never cease to amaze me. My husband and I, two physicians, have managed to produce three artists, a dancer, a filmmaker and a visual artist/drummer. Our life is never dull. They make us better physicians and better people by exposing us to new perspectives and communities of creative people.”  Dr. Dodds