We could not be more thrilled to introduce our next #FREDAGIRL as she is very close to our hearts, Dr Candice Teunis. Candice is a hand and upper extremity surgeon as well as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Today we got the chance to chat with her more about her career, everyday life, and how she rocks FREDA.
Tell us about your day to day and what exactly you do?
I am an orthopedic hand surgeon—I received my medical degree in 2005, completely residency in 2010, fellowship in 2011, and then I started practice. So I really didn’t start my career until I was 32 years old. I am an Assistant Professor with the University of Texas—Houston, but mainly I am in a private practice. I see patients in clinic either full days or half days and operate the rest of the time. I treat young children, athletes, ranchers, housewives, musicians, grandparents, and everything in between. The most common things I treat are carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and trauma, but I will also do reconstructive surgery and microsurgery to repair nerves or vessels. A typical Monday goes like this: wake up at 6 am to finish getting the kids’ lunches together and make their oatmeal. My son (19 months) is the early bird and is usually up by 6:30. Our daughter sometimes needs to be woken up by 7:30. It’s always a circus getting everyone fed, clothed, and out the door so I can take them to school by 8:45. My clinic starts at 9, and then I see patients until about noon. Surgery then goes from 1 until I’m done. Usually our nanny will pick them up from school. Ideally I get home in time to make them dinner and put them to bed. My personal time doesn’t usually happen until about 8:30. I’m fortunate though to work close to home and have some flexibility over my schedule so I can take the kids to school, pick them up sometimes, and even occasionally make a mid-day appearance for something special.
Did you always know the being a doctor and medical field was for you?
I remember going to my Dad’s office (he’s a retired plastic surgeon) as a young child. He never pushed me into medicine, and yet I think that’s where I always knew I’d be. Medicine was a calling for me, and although it’s been a long road, and there are many tough days, I truly love my profession. I believe it’s what I was meant to do. I actually get to fix people. I get to make them feel better. They’re broken and I get to fix them. They hurt, and I can help them feel better. It’s not always that simple and not everything works out the way I’d like. The bureaucracy and logistics of health care can be a challenge, but at the end of the day, it’s still a patient sitting across from me in a room, and I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong and what I can do to help.
What’s been your biggest hurdle thus far? How did you overcome it?
The biggest hurdle by far is work/life balance. I have a full time career, a husband, and two children under 4. To say life is crazy at times would be an understatement. My mentor gave me some of the best advice, and I always pass this on……There are days when you will feel like a bad doctor and others where you will feel like a bad Mom, and that’s ok. You have to let yourself off the hook sometimes. People in medicine tend to be fairly driven, Type A, perfectionistic, and as a working Mom perfect is just not possible a lot of the time. That has to be acceptable. I still struggle about how to make time for myself outside of work and family. Nevertheless, if I’m not healthy and happy I can’t be the way I want to be for my family or my patients. To that end I am very protective of my family time. That means saying no to friends or other family sometimes, just so I can spend a day cooking or working in the garden with my husband and kids.
We love your style and spin on work attire. Where do you find your inspiration? How does FREDA fit into your style?
On days when I operate, I have to be in scrubs. That means shoes are operating room ready, and the only way I can accessorize is with a fun hat (I’ve been rocking a Halloween one this month) or silly socks. So when I’m only in clinic, I love to wear regular clothes. Sometimes it’s jeans with a blazer on a Friday, or maybe crop pants with a blouse. It needs to be professional, but also comfortable. For shoes I definitely don’t have a desk job, and I’ve never been a heel person anyway. In the past the only functional flats were usually ballet flats and that style can get a little boring. I love that Freda has expanded what is flat and even comfortable, yet fashionable. I have seen patients all day, then met my husband and kids out after work for dinner, all wearing Freda’s. Moreover, I’ve also opened the box, put them on and then hopped on a plane overseas. They are incredibly wearable shoes, but also so current. Plus my patients compliment me routinely on my Freda’s. 🙂 Also, I’d like to mention how they fit into my “job” as a Mom. Chasing after toddlers is no easy feat (no pun intended). That being said, Mom attire doesn’t always have to be leggings and tennis shoes. I’ve worn my Freda’s to the grocery store with my kids, and even while I was 8 months pregnant. The brand has made fashionable footwear very accessible to us “normal people”.
Describe Freda Salvador in three words.
Fashion-forward, functional, wearable
Advice for those looking to do a job like yours.
As I said in an earlier response, you can’t be all things to everyone at all times, so don’t be too hard on yourself. And don’t let anyone else be critical. Unfortunately there’s a lot of “Mom guilt” out there, and I think as women we need to really support each other. Being a parent is tough, regardless of whether or not you work. No one needs to be judged for nursing/formula, nanny/day care, whatever. A career in medicine is amazing, and yes it is possible to be a Mom and a surgeon. It’s not easy, but it is so fulfilling. Some nights are tough—I had two really hard cases this afternoon and didn’t get home until after 9, but I’ll get to take my kids trick or treating early on Halloween. It all balances out if you can keep your priorities in mind. Outsource anything that doesn’t bring you joy if at all possible. I love to cook, but others don’t, so sign up for meal delivery if you want. I have no desire to clean or mow the lawn, so we’ve hired people to do that. Obviously that’s not feasible for everyone, but that’s what we do so that our free time on the weekends isn’t spent doing more work. I would also be remiss to not mention my amazing husband. He has a full time job too, and he is so supportive and proud of my career. He’s there to take care of things and pick up when I’m getting stretched thin. Raising our kids is very much a shared responsibility between the two of us. My advice for someone who wants a career in medicine and a family is first of all, believe that you can do it. Find good mentors in your field. Rely on friends, family, significant others, when you need to. Find something you love and then, for the most part, it won’t feel like work. Don’t settle if in your heart you want to be a surgeon. There are easier ways to go through your twenties (and thirties as the case may be), but looking back I still wouldn’t change a thing.
A quote that feeds your soul.
‘Believe in yourself or nobody else will’