Q: Have you ever wanted to give up?
A: Every single time I thought I was going to give up, I just came out stronger.
Q: Can you tell us about yourself?
A: I'm Karra and I'm an emergency medicine resident physician.
Q: Why did you want to become a doctor?
A: I have wanted to be a doctor ever since I was a little girl. I watched my father and uncles in and out of hospitals and just seeing all of the burdens that it brought was truly inspiring. I was really inspired by the relationship that the physicians established with not only their patients but also with the family members of their patients.
Throughout my life, I was a caretaker for my father. I was primarily the one who was taking care of him and just being there for him in every way. Being on the other side now, it's different from what I imagined, but it's so fulfilling. It's incredible to play so many roles, to be able to be the one who is taking care of the patient and be there for their most vulnerable moments. When I go home, I'm like, wow, I take care of patients. I save lives. That’s a great thing and even sometimes hard to believe that this is my life.
Q: What’s different from what you imagined?
A: The challenges that I face on a regular basis. I think you face a lot of stereotypes being a woman in medicine. And I think medicine is already a very challenging and demanding job. So the challenge is a combination of working with trying to defy what a typical doctor looks like.
Q: Tell us about being a woman in medicine. Any moments that stand out?
A: Being a woman in healthcare is empowering. I get to really embody those characteristics that women have, you know — we are nurturers, we're great listeners. And I get to see that side of me with my patients. At the same time, I also think, again, it's challenging because I am constantly mistaken as a nurse or janitorial staff, or ancillary staff. We all play important roles in the hospital, but women do deserve respect for their titles as doctors, too. I think it's eye opening for a lot of people to see women as doctors who are in roles they weren't previously used to seeing.
Q: Can you describe your relationship with medicine in one word?
A: Fulfilling. It’s challenging, frightening, but still the best decision I've ever made.
Q: Can you describe your job in one word?
A: Learning. I learn on a daily basis. I learn about my patients. I learn about myself. I learn about different medical conditions. I just love that I'm constantly learning.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge facing women in healthcare?
A: The stereotypes. There are so many stereotypes against women in healthcare, one being that we can't be providers and mothers at the same time. I think another is that we can't be expected to be the biggest role or have the biggest impact in the hospital. So I think that is and constantly will be a challenge. But, you know, we’re changing the idea. Women can be both mothers and doctors. It’s something that the world’s going to have to get used to.
Q: Are there any woman figures in your life that you look up to?
A: At my medical school, all of my mentors were women. And I think that is why I'm so empowered to speak up and be an example for other women, because I've seen it. I've seen women fulfill these amazing roles. I've seen women run medical schools, as Deans, as Chairs, in specialties, knocking down all of the walls and barriers that people put up against us. And I think that as a woman in healthcare, we need to have these mentors so that we can see that it's possible.
Q: Do you feel a greater sense of responsibility as a woman in healthcare?
A: I do! I feel like I have to speak up. I feel like I have to advocate not only for myself and the other women in healthcare now, but also the women to come.
Q: How do you balance your career with life?
A: In residency, unfortunately, it's very hard, but I think it's possible to do it all because I've seen it. You have to have balance, and you have to have support, whether it be your family, your significant other, or your friends. You have to have support to get you through it. You also need to learn how to prioritize and make time for yourself. For me, that’s spending my off days — even though I don't get that many — working on other projects then doing whatever it is that I want to do, whether that’s hanging out with my friends or practicing self care. Just things that are going to make me excited and happy to go back to work.
Q: Have you ever wanted to give up?
A: I have those moments pretty often, especially in medical school, where I felt like I wanted to give up. But those are the times where you have to lean on that support and just talk to somebody, because your people will help you through it. Every single time I thought I was going to give up, I just came out stronger.
Q: What do you want young women to know about working in healthcare?
A: I want young women to know that is possible. You can do anything that you want to do. If you want to be a doctor, you can be a doctor, if you want to raise a family and be a doctor, you can do so. As a woman, all things are possible.