Name: Edita Newton
Hometown: Willowbrook, IL
Title/Position: Resident physician
Briefly describe your role: I am a Dermatology resident at UAMS. While I am still in training for my specialty, I see patients of all ages to treat disorders of the skin, hair and nails. My typical day includes seeing patients with common skin disorders such as acne or psoriasis, as well as severe skin diseases that are often rare and uncommon genetic diseases. I am always evaluating the skin for growths concerning for cancer and frequently treat skin cancers with surgery or topical medications. I also see rash emergencies outside of normal clinic hours and see patients with skin manifestations that are hospitalized. It is a great variety and no two days end up the same. As a resident, I am always trying to learn and also contribute to the field by publishing interesting observations and findings from my patients.
Q: Is what you’re doing now what you always pictured you would do?
A: I wanted to be a doctor for as long as I could remember, so in that regard, yes, I always thought I would be in medicine. Dermatology as a possible specialty came much later. I did not know anything about this field before starting medical school and had a misconception that the field of Dermatology was focused on aesthetics. After actually experiencing a day in the life of a dermatologist, I realized it is an incredibly challenging and rewarding area of medicine. I also have a research background and always pictured myself working in an academic medical center, closely collaborating with other specialists, taking care of complex patients, and being involved in research and education. That is something I plan to do beyond residency as well.
Q: What do you see as the greatest challenges for women in your chosen industry? What are the greatest opportunities?
A: One of the challenges for women in medicine is the desire to do it all. I find it that women want both to have incredibly challenging and fulfilling careers as well as rewarding home lives with a strong role in the family dynamic. I know I want to do it all. It is a fine rope at times to balance advancing a career while still pursuing personal goals and meeting the needs of the family. There is no perfect roadmap or set strategy that works for all, but it is certainly possible for all.
One of the great opportunities is the wonderful role models we have to guide us through some of these situations. At UAMS, I have great role models in different stages of their careers, from co-residents, to chief residents, to attendings, and all the way to the chair of the department to provide guidance and wisdom on how to navigate some of these circumstances that disproportionately affect female physicians compared to their male counterparts.
Q: Who has inspired you in your life/career?
A: My mom is my biggest inspiration. She restarted her career in a different country and in a different language. My childhood memories frequently highlight her studying from home to earn her professional license on her own after being out of her field for years and while still working full time. She fell asleep in front of her books many a night. She frequently sacrificed family fun on weekends to study for scheduled exams. She cried hard over failed tests, and then signed up again after grieving the failure. Over five years, she tackled her studies one test at a time and ultimately became a licensed pharmacist in the US. I am constantly amazed how she was able to do this on her own while working and taking care of her family.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring professional?
A: It is important to know what you are working towards and why. It is important to move towards those goals every day. Most days will be a minuscule step forward. Some days will be a big leap in the right direction. Some days can feel like a huge step back. But you have to keep moving. And it is important to not be distracted by people achieving immediate gratification around you that may not share similar long term goals. Having some people close to you that are also working towards similar goals can be really motivating and supportive. None of the sacrifices you are making feel like major losses if close friends are all making the same sacrifices alike.
Q: What’s been your secret to success?
A: Trying really hard, being lucky, and meeting people along the way pushed me up. The only two things I had control over in those “secrets" are the trying hard part and putting myself out there to connect with people in a genuine way. Those connections ultimately fostered mentorship and professional relationships that greatly contributed to my achievements. I would like to say I was not afraid of failure but the would be a lie. I have been terrified of failing many times- it just didn’t stop me from going for it. I could fill a resume with schools that rejected me, awards I did not win, grants that were turned down, projects that failed, and publications I abandoned. The successes I have are a small fraction of attempts. You must always keep attempting.