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Milda Saunders, MD, MPH

Clinician, Researcher, Advocate, Wife and Mother

Professional Accomplishments

In my professional life, I am a hospitalist, a health services researcher, and a patient advocate. My research examines socioeconomic and health system barriers that prevent patients with CKD from receiving high quality care. I recently received an NIDDK K23 grant to develop a hospital-based patient education and referral program for patients with advanced CKD. I serve as a patient advocate within the Medical Center. I am the Living Donor Advocate Physician for the UCM Transplant Center. I see potential donors in clinic and work with a multi-disciplinary team to help them make an informed decision. I attend on the Clinical Ethics Service and serve as a Research Subject Advocate for the Institute of Translational Medicine.

Work-Life Balance

I am a wife and a mother to 2 children, ages 8 and 3. I grew up in Chicago, so my parents and extended family are here which provides wonderful opportunities to participate in family activities and to have additional support, but it also can add additional tasks and obligations. My husband, Seth, and I both work to keep our lives running smoothly. During weekdays we have a set routine with some wiggleroom for the unexpected. We also schedule couple time, family activities, and personal time. This is a work in progress. I try to remember that balance is an active process that changes over time.

Advice to Women Faculty and Trainees

  1. Write each task down—then do it, delegate, defer, or delete it. As soon as I hear about a meeting, deadline, playdate, or family event, I put it on the calendar. Having daily tasks written down is important to getting things done. I also try to write down my short-term goals and long-term personal and professional goals. I took a Faculty Development course that advocated making a quarterly strategic plan. Seeing everything I need to do over a 3 month period helps me to realize when I am overcommitted. I can then plan for each of those things, even if it’s just acknowledging that they won’t get done soon (defer), should not get done (delete), or do not need to be done by me (delegate).
  2. Make time for your significant other and yourself. My husband and I are fortunate to have a weekly date night courtesy of my mother who babysits. This is a time for us to catch-up—to tell our funny stories, talk over issues, or just spend time together. In addition, I carve out time for myself every evening to read, exercise, or shop online.
  3. Look for the joy in the everyday. Sometimes in the midst of a busy day, it is hard to be present and acknowledge the little victories and joys.
  4. Get by with a little help from your friends. I have received amazing support and advice from women who are in a similar situation and trying to figure it all out, women who have been in my situation and have figured it out, and people (men and women) who are just looking out for me. I have received important life advice while walking down the hall, sitting in Starbucks, or during parent pick-up. 5. Use Amazon Prime. They deliver all sorts of things to your house within 24 hours.