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Women in Medicine Spotlight: Kierstin Kennedy

Kierstin Kennedy, MD, shares advice and reflects on what has inspired and challenged her as a woman in medicine.

What is your name, title, and department at UAB?

My name is Kierstin Kennedy, associate professor and chief of Hospital Medicine.

Kennedy

Where did you attend medical school?

I went to medical School here at UAB.

Why did you decide to get into medicine?

I think part of it was just the challenge, because everyone said medical school was so hard, combined with the fact that I enjoy science and really enjoy talking with people and helping them.

What is your leading charge at UAB?

My charge is leading the Hospital Medicine group and helping it evolve, as well as developing young hospitalists, improving quality in inpatient care, and helping shape inpatient medicine.

Do you feel that being a woman helps you in your job?

Definitely. I think being a woman helps me in everything.

What would you say to a young woman who aspires to be a physician or surgeon?

I would say to be prepared to work hard, but also start early on trying to find ways to create balance, finding ways to do more than just kind of focusing on one goal. People will say there is no such thing as work/life balance, but I disagree. I just think “work/life balance” gets mischaracterized. If you think about a vintage scale, when it’s holding things that are the same weight, it doesn’t remain perfectly still, it kind of wobbles. That applies to balancing life inside and outside of work. There are days when I feel like I’m killing it at work, but I dropped my kid off at daycare with no shoes. There are other days when I feel like supermom but feel like everything is falling apart at work, yet in the end it all balances out. So the key is to try to find a way to constantly shift your attention and your energies so that you can maintain that balance in what you’re doing in and outside of the job.

What are some of the struggles you face as a woman in medicine?

One of the greatest struggles, if I’m being honest, is trying to find a way to express passion so that it’s not misconstrued as emotion. I think as a female physician and a female leader, if you’re passionate about something, often that gets misread as being emotional, which is not always the case.

To watch more of Dr. Kennedy’s story and learn what has inspired and challenged her as a woman in medicine, click here.