Tell me a little bit about yourself
My name is Shahla Asghari M.D. I am a foreign medical graduate from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran. My second semester as a first-year medical student, I became pregnant with my now 23-year-old daughter. I was fine with the fact that I was pregnant, I knew that God would cover everything. Once I graduated, my first job was working on call for a nursing home before I moved to America. My medical degree was accepted, however, I would have to pass a 3-step exam to become board certified. I spent 6 months preparing for the exam and once completed, I opened a Clinical research LLC with a business partner. In 2010 I became involved in teaching, where I covered various health science courses such as Anatomy & Physiology, Microbiology, Nutritition, and Medical terminology. I loved working with students and have been teaching ever since.
Why did you decide to become a doctor?
I wouldn’t say it was really a decision. My father, who was a University professor, encouraged us to pursue higher education. My older sister went to medical school so I followed her.
What was the biggest obstacle that you faced being a mom in medical school?
Raising my daughter was my first priority. Children need around the clock care. I had to manage my time between being a student and a parent. Everyone knows how toddlers are – they hang from the ceiling and tear up the house.
How did you overcome these obstacles?
I believe in God, I put God in front of me and moved towards Him. It wasn’t easy but doable! Also, being goal oriented rather than motivated. Goals help with the motivation as you achieve them.
Who were the members of your support system and what role did they play?
My family was around to help with my daughter. They were very supportive and encouraged me to stay in medical school.
I understand there are many out there who don’t have support or family around to help, and it can be lonely. But don’t avoid the loneliness, like many choose to do. Instead, be aware of it, sit in it and find the solution through prayer. I am a big fan of Mother Teresa and if you read the letters she left behind, she was very lonely. Despite this, she continued her mission in that deep loneliness, but she became closer to God in the process.
What affect did Medical school have on your daughter?
My daughter hated it and wanted nothing to do with the medical field, she recently graduated with a bachelor’s in finance. There were some hard times in regards to behavior, but once she was old enough – It became a matter of keeping her busy and giving her as much attention as I could when we were together. Throughout the process, proper discipline and taking the time to sit and explain what I was doing and “why” was also very important.
What did a typical day look like for you as a medical student mom?
Did parenting get any easier upon graduating medical school and gaining employment?
Life got harder and harder. My schedule was unpredictable, and you never knew what life is going to throw at you each day.
Would you have done anything differently?
Yes, I would have been more relaxed and not worry so much.
What would your advice be to the woman out there reading this article who wants to further her education/career but hesitates due to her responsibilities as a mom?
Be goal orientated and trust yourself. Ask for help when needed – because you will need help – and don’t fear anything. Humans biggest enemy is fear. Just take everything one step at a time. Obtaining a medical degree is not an easy task, There is no step by step guide —- improvise when you have to!