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18 February 2015

First Woman to Head MLB Doctors Group

As a sports fan, I have always been intrigued as to why women dominate the medical field, but not sports medicine. You rarely think of them until you see your quarterback get knocked down or someone slides into second base and catches their cleat on the base. This is why I perked up when I learned that Dr. Kathleen Weber is poised to become the first woman to lead the Major League Baseball (MLB) Team Physicians Association in 2016. She is the Director of Primary Care/Sports Medicine and Women's Sports Medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

This was an important interview for me for two reasons. The first reason is my daughter. She is 11 and aspires to make soccer her career. She has a big wall sticker of soccer phenom Alex Morgan above her bed and wears a pink headband like Alex. I want to do whatever I can to help her reach that goal, but I stop short of being overbearing and pushing too hard too soon. Being able to speak to a professional who has seen what pushing too hard looks like was a gift.

My other reason for talking with Dr. Weber is professional. As someone who works with and studies about women in science, I have sometimes been told, "At least medicine isn't an issue anymore." Clearly, there are still systemic issues in medicine in regards to when it comes to women beyond their representation in medical school. To realize that in 2015 we are still celebrating and marking "firsts" for women doctors is remarkable -- and not in a good way. I hope that Dr. Weber's work will inspire young women who aspire to be athletic trainers and physicians and practice in any locker room and sideline.

I recently chatted with her about sports, being a first and the difference in athletes by sport:

VLF: What does it mean to you to be the first woman elected to be the president-elect of the Major League Baseball Team Physicians Association?
Dr. Weber: It is a great honor for my work to be respected by my colleagues. It is a privilege for them to trust me with this leadership role.

VLF: What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
Dr. Weber: I plan to continue the community and leadership that our organization provides. This includes continuing to improve our academic meetings where we discuss issues such as safety. Safety is a big issue in baseball.

VLF: We know that in terms of safety, concussions are a huge issue with football, but what are the big concerns in baseball?
Dr. Weber: In baseball it is mostly overuse issues. Hamstrings, pitchers elbows and rotator cuffs. Concussions are an issue, but not as big an issue as in football. But there is research occurring to develop a cap for pitchers to protect them from balls that are hit straight back to them. We also are always working on ways to better protect the catcher.

VLF: How influential is your position and organization? Does MLB listen to your opinions on safety?
Dr. Weber: I also serve on the Medical Advisory Board which does present recommendations to MLB. We do find that they listen to our findings and expertise.

VLF: I was impressed that you work with so many different teams from baseball to basketball, but also women's football. What differences to you see between the sports and even between men and women athletes?
Dr. Weber: To me they are more alike than different. For one, every athlete wants to win. Their common denominator is that they all have a high drive to be their best. They all work very hard. I will say that the difference is how they express frustration and emotion. But male athletes are just as emotional as female athletes.

VLF: As the mom of an 11-year-old girl who plays soccer and dances, what advice do you have to keep our children in shape?
Dr. Weber: First of all, kids should be having fun. Once you stop having fun you lose the urge to compete. Also, your daughter playing soccer and participating in dance is good. Kids shouldn't specialize until they are much older. Specializing too early is what causes repetitive injuries.

VLF: What advice would you give kids who have Olympic or professional sport dreams?
Dr. Weber: I tell kids that they need to work hard and have fun. Learn to eat well and rest well. Kids need to learn how to recover from injuries. They should enjoy their family and do well in school. As for parents, you need to give them access to good coaches. If a coach shows you that he or she is a jerk, walk away.

Note: Interview is from notes, not a transcription. Ideas were summarized and/or combined for space.

13 February 2015

Catching up with Thor, Wonder Woman and Ms. Marvel (Spoilers)


The last time you checked in on your blogging goddess, she had finished the first issue of the new Thor, the first two issues of Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman and a bunch of the new Ms. Marvel. Today she picked up the latest issues bringing us up to Thor #5, Ms. Marvel #11, and SCF Wonder Woman #6. And how are they?

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

THOR: We are still learning about the new Thor. The mystery woman is still hiding behind the mask, but we do learn that she cares about the original Thor. When he comes back from the dead (you knew he wasn't really dead!), she is relived. And while he fights her for his hammer (the source of the super powers & the name "Thor" she now possesses.), he eventually realizes that she truly is worthy of being called Thor. There's a fight scene in one isses where Thor meets up with a bad guy who teases her about being a feminist.

LOVE THIS.

And so far your comics-obsessed blogger is loving "Thor." There are moments when the comic deals head on that Thor is now a woman. Then there are moments when it is just about Thor fighting bad guys. The original Thor is on the hunt for who new Thor use to be, so that will be a fun adventure as his first two attempts were. "Thor" is highly recommended. This little girl would agree. 

SCF Wonder Woman continues to explore the mythology of Princess Diana in short stories. For the most part it's pretty awesome. The art work in the first story of the current issue is a little iffy as it meanders into objectification and stereotypical drawings of women characters. But the stories are both solid. Both deal with Wonder Woman's continuing attempt to solve issues in a peaceful manner.

Last up is Ms. Marvel. Kamala, oh how this character continues to grow as she figures out her place in the world and in her role of superhero. Maybe it is because she is a teen that these stories are more emotional. Her first 'big bad' threw everything at her. Since she is still discovering all her powers and limitations, she continues to get herself in tough spots. And this causes your stomach to drop! Even if you know she'll find a way out. The anticipation is amazing. She is not only representing for young women and Muslims, but also for her generation as you can see from the snap shot I took. She is standing against the stereotype of the tuned out Millennial.

And what did your comic reviewer see at the end of two of these comic books? An ad for a Princess Leia series. Add to this the upcoming all-lady Avengers and you may need to send money fast!

11 February 2015

How I Chose Happiness When #PhDLife Failed

Today bestselling publisher Linda Joy released Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness featuring the soul-inspiring stories of 27 amazing women who share their intimate stories of transformation. Choosing Happiness also includes Reflection Questions after each story which will empower you to integrate the vital lessons of each woman’s journey into your own life. For a limited time you can get over 40 transformational gifts with your copy of Choosing Happiness. Grab your copy today >> http://bit.ly/Happiness_Book
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As some of you know, I went back to school in the fall of 2010 to earn a PhD. But in May 2014, I was unceremoniously dumped from that program. Yeah, it was through email and not even a formal letter. The age of the internet, I guess. So four long years of reading, writing, earning more white hairs and gaining at least twenty pounds for not much to show. OK, the twenty pounds definitely shows! But while some programs dump you and you at least have a masters degree to show for it, I got nada. OK, I did already have a masters degree, but you know what I mean. I was done and depressed.

That was until I started to tell people about what happened. In the course of earning a PhD, you must pass a series of exams. Fail just one of them twice and you're out. Plain and simple. That's what happened to me. It happened to at least one other classmate too.

Just a few weeks ago I had to tell someone about being dumped from the program and the reaction is fairly the same across friends:

1) Eyes bug out while mouth drops to the floor.
2) They recover and say something like, "I'm so sorry," in a soothing tone.
3) They shake their head and say something like, "If they can't see what they are losing, screw 'em."

I won't lie and say that it does not still hurt, it does. A LOT. Being Latina adds to the hurt. In 2009, Latin@s made up only 3% of PhDs. THREE PERCENT. I use to joke that if I earned my PhD, I was going to invite every Latina with a PhD to my graduation party because I could fit them in a van. It is not that I wanted to be of the few, because I am already one of the few Latinas with a masters degree. But I take my position as a role model seriously. I do not wave it off because of the weight of it. I accept the challenge. Do I really have a choice?

Instead of leading with three little letters after my name, I have accepted my role as cheerleader of those Latinas who persist. I'm in a private Facebook group for Latinas working on their PhDs and I get to use the fact I fell flat on my face for their benefit. I thought about leaving, but I haven't. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say and supporting the Latinas who persist makes me happy.

The fact my family, friends and people I barely know off-line have been so outraged by my dismissal from the program makes me happy. Earning a PhD is hard stuff because you are constantly challenged. I rarely knew when a professor thought I was on the right track. I know they are supposed to challenge you, but goodness! Anywho, it is nice to hear people rave about how brilliant you are. ha! But seriously, after being told how much you don't fit into a department and all that jazz, it is nice to see people freak out and want to storm the dean's office on your behalf.

I have often said that I have failed me way into the successful life I have and I guess this is just one more example. I can't wait to see what life holds for me after this latest failure. And I'll go into it with a smile.


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I invite you to share how you are choosing happiness in the comments below.

Be sure to check out Linda’s new book, Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness and grab your copy today at http://bit.ly/Happiness_Book to receive the bonus gift bundle worth thousands!

Disclaimer: I am participating in a book tour, but am not compensated for this post. 

Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.

What I'm Currently Reading

I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces


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