Interview with Dr. Hilda Hutcherson
Dr. Hilda Hutcherson grew up in Tuskegee, Alabama. She received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. She completed a medicine internship at the University of California in San Francisco, and her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center.
Since completing her residency, she has held numerous positions and served on countless committees and boards. She is presently a Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Dean for Diversity and Minority Affairs at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr. Hutcherson’s devotion to women’s empowerment and education is supported by her monthly sexual health columns in Redbook Magazine. She is a frequent contributor to Essence Magazine and has been quoted in O Magazine, Heart and Soul, Cosmopolitan, Upscale, Allure, Health, Parents, Self, and Marie Clair, among others. She has appeared on Oprah, Rachel Ray Show, 20/20, Today, Good Morning America, the Early Show, ABC Nightly News, Nightline, and numerous others.
Dr. Hutcherson is the author of 3 books: Having Your Baby: A Guide for African American Women, What Your Mother Never Told You About Sex and Pleasure: A Woman’s Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve. She was recently named by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of America’s Leading Physicians, one of the Top Doctors in New York in the Castle Connoly Guide, and is included in the Best Doctors in America database. She is married and has 4 children.
Premedical Board Member Lewsey (all questions in plain print):
Dr. Hutcherson, Thank you for joining us to answer questions about your career path and journey in medicine for our premedical and medical students as a part of the Journal of the Student National Medical Association!
- What made you decide to be a doctor? When did you know you wanted to be an Obstetrician/Gynecologist?
Dr. Hutcherson (all responses in bold):
I decided to become a doctor when I was 9 years old. I liked my pediatrician and wanted to make children feel better. I decided to become an Ob/Gyn during my third year of medical school. I found that I did not have the patience to be a pediatrician, but loved surgery and taking care of adult women. I actually did a year of internal medicine before settling on ob/gyn. It is the best decision that I ever made regarding my career.
- What challenges did you face as an undergraduate student? Was there ever a time when you felt discouraged or someone discouraged you from being a doctor? How did you handle that?
I went to high school in a small town in Alabama. I didn’t have access to challenging courses like honors or AP courses. We didn’t even have pre-calculus or physics at my school. So when I went to Stanford, I had to catch up before I could attempt to keep up with the other students that were better prepared. It was difficult. I was discouraged and didn’t think I would ever become a doctor. I was fortunate to have a great advisor who supported and encouraged me. I also asked my classmates for help. I learned about study skills from my friends. One of my friends was my tutor for the entire year of calculus.
- You have been greatly committed to women’s health and student mentorship during your career. What inspired you to use your career to champion empowerment for women and youth?
As a gynecologist, I was aware of the need for basic health education for women. The questions that my patients asked every day are what inspired me to write all of my books. In addition, I think it is very important to always reach back to help others after you have realized your dream. It gives me great pleasure to teach young people how to navigate the journey to medical school and a medical career. I could not have made it without the love and support of many people.
- If there is anything you could do differently as it pertains to your career or pathway in medicine, what would it be?
- Considering all that you do serving as a dean at Columbia University, writing best-selling books, seeing patients, writing for Redbook and Essence magazines, multiple TV and radio appearances, and having a family, how do you make sure to take care of yourself and maintain balance in your life?
That can be tough. But I realize that if I don’t take care of myself, my children, and others, will suffer. It is a gift to those that I love to take care of myself as well. So I take a few hours each week to breathe and de-stress. I usually go to my hair stylist and nail salon every week. I work out with a trainer twice weekly, and I always try to find a few minutes every day just to be quiet and rest.
- What advice do you have for premedical students who are embarking on a career in medicine?
Work hard. Delay gratification! That means to give it your all right now, as the rewards will be worth the effort. You can always party after you get your MD degree!
To learn more about Dr. Hutcherson’s many accomplishments or to follow her blog, visit www.drhilda.com
This article has been featured by the Premedical Board Member and the MAPS Committee in an attempt to spotlight leaders in medicine for our premedical readership! Premedical students, let us know what you think at email@example.com!
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