“In your career, if you wait for someone to pull you along, you will wait forever,” said Redonda Miller, MD, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. “You have to create your own opportunities.”

The MGH Office for Women’s Careers in the Center for Faculty Development celebrated September as Women in Medicine Month with Miller’s “Pushing Ourselves to Succeed” lecture. At the start of the event, Nancy Rigotti, MD, director of the MGH Office for Women’s Careers, asked every woman in the audience who has recently been promoted within the MGH or Harvard Medical School to stand and be recognized by their colleagues. “That is no easy feat,” she said.

During her talk, Miller shared how she rose to become the first female president of Johns Hopkins and how she managed to balance professional and academic pursuits with motherhood. Miller spoke of her life as a college student, medical student and internist and stressed the importance of finding a mentor. It was her mentor who pushed Miller to apply for new positions and take on more challenging projects that ultimately prepared her for her current position as president. She shared her success in receiving her master’s degree and even her disappointment when she did not receive a job she had wanted.

Then Miller asked the age-old question, “Can women really have it all?” Her response? “Not all at one time.” She explained that dinner with her husband and two daughters takes place at 9 pm while the families of her daughter’s friends often have dinner at 6 pm. She also recalled having to leave meetings at the hospital to ensure she would be home in time for her daughter’s recital. “Sometimes you have to choose,” she said.

After a question-and-answer session with audience members, Miller offered a final piece of advice. “Don’t wait to be pulled. Push yourself. If you don’t have a nervous pit in your stomach, you’re not reaching high enough.”

This article was originally published in the 10/27/17 Hotline issue.