Infectious Disease

‘I wish I had treated myself as a human first’

September 16, 2022

2 min read

Source/Disclosures

sources:

Salles A. Your dream career on your terms. Presented at: Women in Medicine Summit; Sept. 16-18, 2022. Chicago.

Disclosures:
Salles reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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CHICAGO — Arghavan Salles, MD, PhD clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford, reflected on her 20-year journey since medical school.

“I wish I had lived my values ​​all along … and had treated myself as a human first and did not treat myself like a machine,” she said.

Women who demonstrate leadership traits are often penalized for it, Arghavan Salles, MD, PhD, said at the Women in Medicine Summit in Chicago. Source: Joan-Marie Stiglich, ELS

In her talk, “Your dream career on your terms,” at the Women in Medicine Summit, Salles discussed challenges she and many others face in medical school and beyond.

In medical school, students are “made to feel small and told we should be small,” Salles said. “We are advised even in the kindest setting,” and are taught not to care about sleep or nutrition.

Also, medical school students are “taught that you can’t defend yourself because if you do, you will be blamed that you ‘are not receptive to feedback’,” Salles said, to which the audience erupted in agreement.

Salles then found herself in residency with too much work, not enough sleep, no time for exercise and very little time for family and friends, and yet, she put her “whole heart into residency.”

She later experienced “double bind,” which women in medicine often face. Leadership characteristics are the same characteristics attributed to male characteristics, she said. Women in medicine who demonstrate leadership behaviors are often penalized for acting outside of a traditional female gender role. Healio previously has written about this phenomenon.

Expressing too much confidence or being too assertive can be perceived as negative and have consequences in attaining leadership roles, Salles said. She said she found that men and women are judged differently on their evaluations.

“I was made to feel like I was the problem” and felt alone, Salles said. But she asserted, “You are not the problem.”

After missing out on life for 20 years, she chose her life. She realized the most valued thing in her life was family, and so she moved to be near them. “Friends and family are important to me, and I had left them,” she said. Then, she looked inward.

“Know yourself,” Salles said. “How much sleep do you need? How do you like to learn? How to deal with conflict? Do you like mornings? And how do you reset? Because no matter what job … there are going to be difficulties. You need to reset.

“Be a human first,” she added. “You have an incredible amount of value, and if you are at a place that doesn’t see that, get out.”

She went on to say, “Let yourself have emotions. Do self-care … be kind to yourself. You are not your mistakes. Figure how you are going to [get your] house clean, how you are going to get good food … outsource everything that does not bring you joy.”

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Women in Medicine Summit

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