Women’s History Month with Jill Monteiro

What are you most proud of achieving in your medical career?

Early in my medical career, I wanted to achieve what everyone seemed to respect — the competitive residency spot, the perfect central line, the illusive diagnosis.

But after working to build this resume, I am most proud of the moments that no one saw. The elderly grandmother who thanked me for sitting on her hospital bed and chatting with her about old movies. The medical assistant who said she loved working with me. The neighbor who knocked on my door with a medical question because he knew I’d help him.

These were conscious decisions — to stay rather than leave the patient room, to genuinely engage with all colleagues, to open the door with a smile — and I’m proud of them.

What brings you hope for the future of the medical industry?

Many people want to make it better. Both for providers and patients. The accepted culture is no longer one of working residents to exhaustion and near destruction, or of physicians commanding patients to follow treatment plans as if mandated.

Values around quality of life, autonomy, and equality are surfacing more and more in both grassroots and senior-level initiatives. I believe this momentum will continue, and healthcare will be in a much better place because of it.

What advice would you give to folks working (or just starting their careers) in the medical industry?

Don’t be afraid of change. Being in medicine can feel like being on a train that is roaring ahead without the ability to break or change course. But the field of medicine is huge, as are the career opportunities.

This might mean leaving your cardiology residency to be a primary care physician, or leaving your primary care clinic to become a cardiologist. Or, splitting your time between clinical and teaching, or clinical and writing, or taking a break from clinical all together and working in the vaccine or med-tech industries.

Remove all expectations you or others placed on you, experiment and explore, and follow what makes you happy.

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