Juggling motherhood and a full-time career in medicine can be very demanding and overwhelming. Working mothers certainly don’t have it easy out there, but they admirably make it work and even thrive at their respective workplaces through the low points, chaos, and exhaustion. One such mother and a practising psychiatrist is Ramona Grewal. Born and raised by immigrant parents in Scarborough, she moved to Vancouver at the age of 9.
With an aim of providing the best education and life to their children, her parents helped Ramona get enrolled in a prestigious medical school in the Caribbean when she was 19 years old. She then completed the next 10 years of schooling in the U.S. working and striving to be an excellent practising medical professional.
“Without any second thoughts, now after years of being into this profession successfully, I would give credit to my parents for my success. They have supported me emotionally, financially and in many other ways while growing up. They encouraged me to pursue my educational and personal goals with so much love and care. They are still my go to people when I need help or advice. I am where I am in life because of their hard work, love, and sacrifices,” she said.
Being a doctor was not always a career choice for her and she says, “Initially, in high school I wanted to go to Law school but by my early college years I realized my love for sciences and enjoyed the role of being a caregiver and helping others. If I wasn’t a Psychiatrist, I would be a stay-at-home mom to my two little girls, but I get the best of both worlds as a working mom and still have ample time to spend with them since I work from home.” For her, a typical workday starts at 8am and ends by 3-4pm.
“I work from home using telemedicine to see my patients which gives me the convenience to see my children throughout the day. I have been working for the same community health centre for 4 years and enjoy working with underserved populations in rural communities in Washington state.” She added, “what keeps me motivated is my family. I have a lot of support and encouragement from my husband, parents, in-laws, and my children.”
Years-long medical training required to become a fullfledged specialist certainly was not designed with parenthood in mind but now, she still manages to keep her work and personal life balance intact. According to her, the key to do so is by working 4 days a week (still full time) and having a three-day weekend. She said, “I can focus and keep organized with my work but also have time to spend with my family and keep up with other responsibilities. In addition, I believe it takes a village to raise a family. I have a lot of help and support in my personal life and know when to ask for help when things are getting to be too much for me.” “Taking time away from the daily routine is key for me and my family. Going on vacations when you can (whether big or small) is important. In addition, having the weekend set aside to do fun activities with my kids is also needed,” she added.
She believes her greatest strengths are being very organized and motivated. “I have been told by many that I am very ambitious and will not give up no matter how trying a task may be. This has allowed me to stay focused on my goals and aspirations in life; however, this is also my weakness.”
“I have given up a lot of time and energy in order to achieve what I have in life at the expense of not having much of a social life in my 20s,” she added. But now, with an ever-evolving mindset she is achieving greater heights and feels all her hard work and commitment is paying her well. “In the next five years I see myself as being a continued loving wife, mother, and career-oriented woman with her own psychiatric practice locally.” With her ultimate inspiration as education, she feels “the more I learn the more I know, and this drives me to continue progress, change and improve both personally and in my career.”
Ramona is happily married to Jason and believes the most eventful day of her life was the day she married him. “It was the start to a different part of my life that has led me to many wonderful times like having my daughters, our careers, our home together and so much more.”
On being asked about the hardships one faces while on a journey to become a psychiatrist, she said, “I think the entire path to become a psychiatrist involves a lot of sacrifice, hard work and resilience. The path to start and complete medical school and residency is quite difficult. My biggest hardship was being away from home for medical school (4 years) and then again for residency. Being away from your family, friends, a familiar environment and still giving your 100 percent to every task assigned is not an easy job.” She feels one needs to be resilient and determined to achieve such goals. “Sacrificing time with loved ones or missing out on many events, parties, weddings, graduations became normal for me. Keep the end goal in mind and resting on days off or holidays is important to prevent burn out,” she added.
“Above all, be a good human being and try to help others out when you can,” she concluded and signed off!