(from left to right) – Yael Bree Greenberg, 4th year medical student; Racheli Sambrowsky, 3rd year dental student; Diana Safier, medical assistant; Dr. Miriam Knoll, radiation oncologist; Dassie Nelkenbaum, nurse; Bracha SchÃ¶nblum, physiotherapist; Yocheved Teitelbaum, occupational therapist
Media presentations by doctors, nurses and other health professionals focus on crises and long absences from home. We seldom hear of health professionals going home to cook dinner for their families or to shop Yom Tov Clothes or participate shiurim. Women who have large families and want to participate in community life have to look for role models in medicine and health care.
To give a more realistic feel of how frum Women are successfully pursuing careers in medicine and health sciences, Touro College presented a program for young girls and women that introduced women who integrate communal, professional and personal roles. Six health sciences students and alumni from Touro spoke about their experiences – from bachelor’s to high school and beyond. Her professions included medicine, dentistry, medical assistant (PA), physiotherapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT) and nursing. The women discussed all aspects of their professional life – why they chose their special professional field, how they can master school education, challenges and opportunities, as well as ways of combining work and private life.
Many spoke of the opportunities Touro offered to make their way through their educational trips – from kosher food to an academic timetable based on the Jewish calendar, to a community of frum Students on the campus of the medical and dental faculty who Shabbatons, In front-Yom Tov Congregations, Torah teaching, and the support network of frum Students in the therapy programs who developed study partnerships and deep friendships. As frum Women described how they are able to balance multiple priorities – including marriage, parenting, and community engagement – to make their education successful while enjoying their careers.
Real women tell their stories
Yael Bree Greenberg, a fourth year medical student at New York Medical College in Touro, shared that medicine is “a great career for those who love science, love people, and are not afraid to spend many years in school”. She pointed out that medical education is a long-term commitment. Students can expect to spend 12 years earning their undergraduate degrees, medical degrees, and completing residencies. However, she said, “If you have a vision of your long-term goal, you can and will happily do it.” Greenberg is married with a baby and is currently applying for residency training in anesthesia.
Racheli Sambrowsky is a third year dentistry student at Touro College of Dental Medicine. She described dentistry as an area with tremendous growth potential. âYou have to make quick decisions, think on your feet, solve problems. At the end of the day, there is nothing better than thanking a patient for relieving their pain or fixing their smile, âshe said. listen to Racheli’s presentation.
Dassie Nelkenbaum, an emergency room nurse at Maimonides Medical Center, has a passion for nursing that she describes as “the art of caring in science”. The job is intense, but she doesn’t want it any other way. listen to Dassie’s presentation.
Achieve work-life balance
One concern that may prevent women from pursuing a career in health science is the potential for work-life balance. Several of the panelists countered this misunderstanding, pointing out that their areas of expertise offer the opportunity to switch between full-time and part-time work over the course of a career.
Bracha Schoenblum, Doctor of Physiotherapy, has a private practice in Woodmere and has four children. She said, âYou can work full-time or part-time in a hospital. You can have your own practice or work for someone else. You can work in places you probably haven’t considered. Companies hire physiotherapists with experience in ergonomics. Performing arts organizations also need PTs. Your strengths will lead you into the areas that you love. ” listen to Bracha’s presentation.
Diana Safier has been working as a doctor’s assistant in the family doctor’s practice for seven years. A mother of five, who got married early in college, she chose PA because it enabled her âto get where I wanted to be in just two years. I knew I wanted to treat patients, but I didn’t want the hassle of having my own practice. âShe loves her job and works part time so she can take care of her family and do community volunteering, including running one chamber. âPA is a flexible field; You can work full-time or part-time and change your subject at any time. ” listen to Diana’s presentation.
Yocheved Teitelbaum, an occupational therapist, pointed out the many different environments OTs can work in, including hospitals, rehab facilities, schools, and sensory gyms. âI love OT because it’s a dynamic field where you have the opportunity to interact with people throughout the day and help them through difficult times in their life. It’s a flexible career in that it’s possible to work part-time, switch to other settings mid-career, and achieve work-life balance, “she explained.
Dr. Miriam “Mimi” Knoll of Cedarhurst, a radiotherapy specialist and mother of four who also co-founded the Jewish Orthodox Women’s Medical Association (JOWMA), gave advice. âEvery woman makes the decision how to lead her life in her very own way. From caring for so many young women, I can tell you that there is no one answer for all. âShe encouraged young women to explore their passions, find what makes the most sense to them, and believe in themselves. listen to Miriam’s presentation.
âIt is your responsibility to do what YOU are asked to do. Throughout your career, make sure to keep dropping by with that little voice in your head. It’s the voice that tells you that I want to develop my talents to make the world a better place, to give back to the world and to make a difference, âsaid Knoll.