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Be Your Authentic Self: Celebrating Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society. As we reflect on those who have paved the way for progress, we also honor those who are shaping the future for generations to come. At Harbin Clinic, we take great pride in our female leadership at every level of our organization. Throughout March, we will be honoring some of the great women who work at Harbin Clinic and live out our mission to care completely for patients. We began our conversations by asking our female leaders a couple qeustions: What attributes helped them obtain success? And, if they could provide advice to a young woman, what should they share? 

Kenna Stock, Chief Executive Officer

From an early age, I wanted to understand “why” things happened the way they do. I cared about others’ feelings, experiences, and perspectives. Because of this, curiosity & empathy have contributed to who I am today.  More than he probably realizes, my father has been a significant influence on my life.  From him, I learned the value of hard work and perseverance. Also, I learned from the absolute power of loving your work—even if it was at times complex and challenging.  When you have a passion for the work you do and feel that the work has a purpose, it won’t “feel” as hard as it might otherwise.  If I could advise a young lady striving to reach her goals, I would share:

  • Seize every opportunity with enthusiasm and eagerness—demonstrate her ability to grow personally and professionally.  Believe in yourself, but be humble and kind to others who share in your journey.  
  • Invest in yourself—educationally, whether that be formally or through life-experience—be a life-long learner, evolve and expand your “world-view,” and respect others whose “world-view” is different from your own.   Most importantly, be fully engaged in what you do, and others will notice—even when they don’t, you will find satisfaction in knowing you gave your best effort each day.  

Sandy Smith, Director of Operations 

I was very blessed to be raised by a strong woman. She balanced a career, four children and supported us in every way. The most important thing that she taught 

me is a positive, can-do attitude. Every experience, no matter how negative, has a positive takeaway. Looking for the “lessons” and “what was this meant to teachme?” has certainly changed how I respond to situations that don’t necessarily feel good. As I often say, “friction polishes the stone.” Everything is a learning opportunity to improve my communication skills, or sometimes my perspective. Growth and comfort seldom coexist, so if I am uncomfortable, I am usually learning and growing. 

I also have passion for my work. I have worked in the healthcare industry since I was 17 years old, and I truly fell into a career that I love. Helping patients motivates me to look for ways to improve service, access to care, and healing in someone’s greatest time of need. I am the happiest in my work when I am helping others. I believe it is essential to live a life where your passion and talent intercept. 

If I were advising a young who is working to reach her goals, I would share for her to: 

  • Believe in herself, and everyone else will follow. 
  • Envision yourself where you want to be. Be bold in your goals and dreams. 
  • Find a mentor and learn from them. 
  • Proactively create opportunities and be prepared for them when they happen. 
  • Show initiative, take risks, and challenge yourself to do better. You are everything you believe yourself to be. 

Connie Murphy, CMA and Practice Manager for Harbin Clinic Pediatrics Rome Davis Sabino

I have 25 plus years invested in healthcare. I knew this would be my path at a very young age, as I love helping people. Hard work and determination are a must to be successful. Also, I believe setting goals for yourself is very important. I am thankful to my former teachers and managers that encouraged me along the way. My passion for helping people has never wavered. I strive to be a positive influence no matter what the circumstance.

If I were to share some advice with a young lady striving to reach her goals, I would say:

  • Set small goals for yourself as you work diligently to achieve your ultimate goal.
  • Surround yourself with positive people, which will support you every step of the way.

Wendy Pitts, Harbin Clinic Chief Operating Officer

Wendy Pitts, COO of Georgia's Harbin Clinic, smiling and wearing a black suit.

I was fortunate to be raised in a family with both sets of grandparents living in the home. Guided by my mother and grandmothers, I was brought up knowing that a woman can do and be anything. Watching my mother and grandmothers work and raise me taught me what it truly means to have great fortitude. To this day, this has influenced me to always look for the positive in all things. The women in my life overcame adversity and encouraged me to seek solutions rather than accept failure, which connects with my second attribute: being an out-of-the-box creative thinker. Being a “lifetime learner,” I try to learn new things and take on challenges that I may not be as knowledgeable about. Doing this helps me to learn and apply new skills. If I could advise a young lady striving to reach her goals, I would share a story with her that has been so important in my life and helps me remember my purpose. I have a framed greeting card on my desk that has almost faded from how long I have had it, and I read this card at least once every day. It states, “Always believe in you.  Listen to your heart. Trust your instincts.  Know you can. See your strengths. Dream it. Dare it. Do what you are afraid of. Follow your vision. Remember, anything is possible if only you believe.”

Bobbi Freeman, RN, MSN, CGRN  Gastroenterology Endoscopy & GI Lab Rome Manager

The two attributes that have contributed to my success are perseverance and commitment. In my career, I’ve overcome many obstacles. I am grateful for every hurdle because not only did it teach me, but it grew me. 

Years ago, I pledged myself, my co-workers, patients, and my family that I would never give up or give in. No matter what, I would always rise up! Through dedication and perseverance, things would get accomplished. 

If I could advise a young woman striving to achieve her goals, I would tell her to work hard and never 

give up. It is essential not to let the opinion of others make you waver from your aspirations. At every step in life, patience and tenacity will take you a long way. No matter how many times you may be told “no” or “not right now” in your career, don’t let it define you. Stay to the course, and it will happen for you. 

Jill Isabel, RN Clinical Educator & Infection Control Coordinator 

Two attributes that have contributed to my success are:

•Family – I was a medical assistant in the early part of my career, and I did not start college until my youngest child started kindergarten.  I would have never made it through without the support of my husband and my mother. Together, they were present to  fill in the gaps for me. Whether it was caring for our sons, washing the clothes, cleaning the house, I knew I could count on them. To this day, they are my biggest cheerleaders!

•Perseverance – It was not easy to go to college/nursing school with a husband, two young children, and a home to take care of.   With God’s help, I kept my nose to the grindstone and made it through, graduating top in my class. 

If I could advise a young lady striving to reach her goals, I would share the value of being positive, believing in yourself, and determination. Having a positive attitude is most of the battle. It’s important to know and believe that everyone has talents. Even more, they can help you reach your goals. Lastly, determination is essential. Whether it is working on a college degree, choosing a mate, or planning for your future, I believe it is necessary to make a conscious decision to succeed and be deliberate in your actions to achieve your goals.   

Sarah Tuck, Harbin Clinic Senior Director of Marketing

1. What are two attributes that you feel helped you obtain your success?                   

Curiosity and resiliency.

Curiosity fuels my passion for learning and has allowed me to expand my areas of expertise. I’m never afraid to ask questions and I take every opportunity to learn something new. Being curious has also helped me stay open to new opportunities that I might not have

 considered. I’m never satisfied with the status quo and I always look for ways to make improvements for myself or for any process or established plan, and I credit my innate curiosity as a driving force in finding innovative solutions to problems.

Resiliency is another attribute that has been instrumental in my career. I try to be passionate about everything I do and so it’s not always easy to bury my frustration when things don’t go as planned. However, over time, I’ve learned the value of staying the course and  persevering through challenging times with a positive attitude. Learning to adapt to change – and even to embrace it – is so important.

2. If you could advise a young lady striving to reach her goals, what would you share with her?

Don’t be afraid to set the bar high and go after what you want, even if it is intimidating. Ask lots of questions and never turn down an opportunity to learn something new. Build meaningful relationships with those around you but pay attention to how they make you feel. Surround yourself with people who build you up and make you want to be the best version of yourself – personally and professionally. There will undoubtedly be times you find yourself as the only female sitting at “the table,” whatever that means for your career path. When you find yourself in those settings, remember that you have earned the right to be there and your voice matters just as much as the person beside you. Kick any self-doubt to the curb, commit yourself to working hard at everything you do and know that you are destined to do great things.

Lynn Williams, Harbin Clinic Family Medicine Cedartown Practice Manager

Two attributes that have served me well and contributed to my success are work ethic and focus. Growing up as a young child, I had the privilege of witnessing my parents instill a strong work ethic in my siblings and me. To this day, I reflect on fond memories of how we were to do our chores, then have fun. This level of responsibility has stayed with me throughout my adulthood. I am forever grateful to my parents for showing me what it meant to be dedicated to my work, both personally and professionally. Through hard work, great things will follow.

If I were advising a young lady striving to reach her goals, I would share the importance of:

•Studying your craft

•Listening (be willing to learn from others around you)

•Identifying a mentor who shares your passion for work

•Follow your heart and God

Heather Arthur, Pediatrics Adairsville Practice Manager 

Two things that have attributed to my success are my inherent inquisitiveness and devotion to the entire team’s success. There is great value in feeding your intellectual curiosity by asking questions, gathering information, and remaining open-minded. While these are vital to me, I believe nothing can take the place of good old-fashioned teamwork. To me, teamwork is defined as a group of people who come together to work towards a common goal, tweak processes when necessary, and celebrate one another. No one is successful on their own; it takes a village. My advice to any young woman striving to reach her goals is to embrace her uniqueness. No one stands out or inspires change by blending in. All the great women that have paved the way for you have done so by celebrating their gifts. We did not allow anyone to dim our light. We sharpened our knowledge by seeking the wisdom of those who came before us. Never force your creativity to remain inside the box. Refuse to be mediocre, and you, too, will pave the way for other women.   

Dr. Poonam Singh, Internist at Singh Internal Medicine

I believe that being a good listener and a lifelong learn has contributed to my personal and professional success. These attributes have helped me earn my patients’ and the community’s trust. 

Good Listener: I believe that to be good at anything, one has to listen well. I try to listen, without interrupting, intently. I aim to be true to myself and open-minded; I try to make the other person feel supported and convey my confidence in them. Good listening is a two-way dialogue, and I find that the best conversations are active. I may challenge assumptions and disagree, but I intend to help and not win an argument. 

Lifelong learner: Learning is a lifelong process for a physician. I am persistent. Each patient interaction is a unique opportunity for me to learn. Lifelong learning is invigorating for me, while it improves patient care. Medical science continues to change. Many cherished ideas learned in medical school and training become obsolete with new research and evidence. What was rarely remains what is. This is humbling. I continue to learn to be relevant and provide the best care I can provide. Lifelong learning engenders intellectual humility. The thing I have learned most about being a lifelong learner is how little we know. 

If I were to share something with a young woman striving to reach her goals, it would be:

  • Women physicians encounter unique challenges. They may be pushed aside in such a male-dominated arena. Patients may think they are the nurse, and some male counterparts don’t respect them the same way as male physicians. They shoulder a disproportionate share of household responsibilities despite their careers. But, no matter how old you are or your personality type, when it’s time to speak up for what’s right, you have to. 
  • Be assertive. Don’t allow yourself to be a pushover. Don’t be meek, nor be bossy. Society doesn’t give us the same leeway to make mistakes or exert ourselves as it allows others. One of the biggest challenges for young physicians today is burnout, which isn’t gender specific. Role models and mentors can be fundamental in helping young physicians fend off burnout and combat the underlying challenges. My personal success is being a supportive, loving wife and mother, working toward becoming the best physician possible, and caring for yourself. 
  • Self-care is not selfish. Being a mom, wife, and physician is no longer a rare thing. There has never been a more exciting time to be a woman in medicine, and I cannot wait to see the type of change this generation will make.

Dr. Melissa Dillmon, Medical Oncologist & Hematologist

In addition to caring for patients as a board-certified Oncologist and Hematologist at the Harbin Clinic Cancer Center, Dr. Melissa Dillmon serves as on the Board of Directors for Harbin Clinic and was recently recognized as a Fellow by the American Society of Clinical Oncologists.

Two attributes that have contributed to my success, both personally and professionally, are determination and multitasking. Determination is vital for success in life. It is what keeps you going to achieve your desired goals even when hit by setbacks and obstacles. Multitasking plays an essential role in helping me get ahead in life and staying ahead. When I’m able to multi-task, I have more free time to focus on my family, friends, and hobbies. Each day, I try to live out these attributes and execute on them.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, if I were to give advice to a young woman, it would be the following two things:

1) Find a mentor in your field
2) Once you succeed, mentor someone else

Published March 4, 2021

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