National Women Physicians Day is an annual observance held on February 3rd, that celebrates ALL women physicians and the incredible impact they make in their communities, while also empowering young girls around the world to enter the field of medicine.
This day also serves to recognize the unwavering determination and courage of Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, who in 1849, became the first woman in the United States to receive a medical degree. Because of her, and the countless remarkable women who followed their dreams after her, we can celebrate our two AMAZING women physicians, Megan Heil, DO, and Whitney Boling, MD.
As physicians and ophthalmologists, Megan Heil, DO, and Whitney Boling, MD, have shown steadfast dedication, incredible passion, and service-oriented hearts committed to continually providing compassionate care to the families they serve here in Michiana. In observance of National Women Physicians Day, we asked them to take a step back and look at the journey that led them to become the brilliant and AMAZING physicians they are today. Here’s what they had to say!
Q: What inspired you to become a physician?
M. Heil, DO: I knew I wanted to be in a profession that each day was different and one that brought real connections with people. Being a physician allowed me to have both.
W. Boling, MD: My biggest inspiration for becoming a physician was seeing the positive impact my dad and grandfather had on the community through their work as ophthalmologists. Everywhere they went, someone would approach and thank them for what they’d done for them, or how they’d changed their lives by saving their vision or enhancing it in some way. I wanted to have that same level of impact, which is why I became a physician, and ultimately, an ophthalmologist.
Q: What does being a woman physician mean to you?
W. Boling, MD: Being a female physician means continuing to break glass ceilings and setting examples. Medicine is still largely a male-dominated field, especially surgical specialties, so being able to be a dedicated female ophthalmic surgeon hopefully helps continue to pave the way for other aspiring female doctors.
M. Heil, DO: Being a woman physician is similar to be being a male physician. The only difference in my mind is that not only am I a physician, but I also hold some of the traditional roles at home as the caregiver of the family. In some ways, that’s like having two jobs, not just one.
Q: What advice do you have for young girls or women interested in joining the medical field?
M. Heil, DO: Persevere and persist. Becoming a physician can have many obstacles, especially being a female in a traditionally male-dominated field. We are slowly breaking through the glass ceilings and becoming equal in numbers and voices to our male counterparts.
W. Boling, MD: I would tell young women who are interested in medicine to make sure they truly love medicine before pursuing it – it is an ever-evolving landscape, and you truly must love what you do to handle all the non-medical red tape and obstacles that come in to play. Once they’ve settled on a specialty they love, I’d tell them to never take no for an answer and to stick with it as long as it takes because eventually it WILL be worth the very very long journey!
Q: If you could say one thing to Elizabeth Blackwell, MD, what would you say?
W. Boling, MD: I would thank Dr. Blackwell for being a fearless trailblazer! Without her courage, the slowly climbing numbers of women in medicine may not have been possible. Only 37% of active physicians were women in recent years…. with more and more fearless females like Dr. Blackwell, I think that number could easily be 50% this decade!
M. Heil, DO: Thank you for paving the way so I can live my purpose.
Because of her, we celebrate the courageous women physicians of the past, present, and future.