What brought you to your field of expertise?
I first discovered toxicology during a rotation in my pediatric residency, at the Philadelphia Poison Center. I encountered strong faculty mentorship there and decided to pursue a career in Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Medical Toxicology. The elegant science behind how toxins in our environment create physiologic derangements still fascinates me, every day.
What do you find most satisfying about the work that you do?
Aside from providing consultations to the medical community, the most satisfying aspect of my job is the ability to connect with people through public health outreach and advocacy. Much of the work of a Poison Center is in media and messaging to the public and healthcare providers, and providing subject matter expertise to key stakeholders and decision makers. This is the most rewarding aspect of the work.
Do you have a woman role model? Who? Why?
I don’t have a single role model, but I am inspired by strong and accomplished women who find their voice and use it wisely.
What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Building and strengthening a healthy organization with national visibility and public health impact. The team at NJPIES is proud of what we do, and I am really proud of that.
What would you consider to be your greatest challenge?
Managing people can be a challenge. Bringing together diverging viewpoints requires skilled listening and communication, but I have learned that people thrive when they feel their voice has value.
What are a few resources you would recommend to other women in the field of medicine and science?
First of all, I am an avid reader. I make time to read in print as well as listen to audiobooks and podcasts, which I find refreshes my mindset on many fronts and allows me to connect with more people. It’s a great glimpse into someone’s perspective to ask what they are reading and why.
I also try to stay abreast of relevant social media platforms, which can be a source of inspiration and guidance. Obviously, this must be curated to avoid distraction and negative influences.
What strategies would you recommend to other women in science/medicine for improving their work – life balance?
Small adjustments make a big difference. Prioritizing requires forethought. I try to claim future time for important things. If you really want to do something, put it on the calendar. Also, strategically saying “no” is essential. At this stage of my career, I try only to commit to the things I’d be willing to do right away, if possible. If I don’t want to do it today, Future Me won’t want to do it 6 months from now.
What advice would you give a woman going into a medical or scientific leadership role for the first time?
Make your work visible. Self-promotion does not come naturally to many of us, but sometimes the only way for everyone to know about the great work you’re doing is to tell them. Communicate regularly about successes, even the small ones.
What do you do to continue to grow and develop in your field?
Information comes from many sources and keeping up is always a challenge. I try to prioritize reading journals and medical news websites, and I fill in gaps with podcasts and conferences. I attend key events throughout the year where I anticipate new science will be discussed, and I focus on attending platform sessions in particular. My favorite strategy of all is to talk with a colleague about a clinical issue. I always learn something.
What strength or characteristic do you have that contributes most to your professional success?
I try to be a collaborative leader and colleague. Listen to your team, whether that means an organization, department, or group of co-investigators. People will seek opportunities to work with you if they had a positive experience in the past.