Our Stories

Juggling Medicine, MMHC, and Motherhood

Dr. Margaret Burks enjoys support from program, professors, and classmates

Margaret Burks
Clinical Fellow, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, & Metabolism, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Vanderbilt MM Health Care 2019

Margaret Burks came to Vanderbilt as a medical resident, accepted a two-year fellowship in endocrinology, then stayed an additional year to serve as chief resident for internal medicine. In a way, those learning experiences are what led her back to school.

During her time as chief resident, Dr. Burks was part of endeavors to improve systems within the hospital. “I enjoyed interacting with professionals outside of medicine, but I found that, as a physician, I did not have the background or training in how to ‘speak the language’ of administration, operations, or management,” she says. “I struggled with wanting to contribute but not knowing how to engage.”

With the encouragement of her division, as well as her research and clinical mentor, Margaret enrolled in the MMHC program. She calls it “one of the best decisions I ever made.”

As she develops her career as a clinical endocrinologist, she hopes to gradually integrate management and administration into her career path. The skills she learned in the program, she says, “are incredibly different from my training as a physician. I am early in my career, and this experience has given me a leap ahead.”

She enjoyed the experience so much that, rather than seeing the MMHC program as an additional burden, she looked forward to class every week. “The program is engaging and, honestly, fun,” she says. “My classmates have become like close family. Because the program is geared toward working professionals, I have never felt like I was overwhelmed, and my classmates have similar work and family obligations.”

For Margaret, there was at least one family obligation no one else in her cohort shared. During the fall semester, she gave birth to her second child.

She credits the support of everyone in the program for helping her manage. “My professors took the time to make sure I had all of my work before maternity leave, and they let me take one of my exams early,” Margaret says. “My classmates sent me cards and checked on me. I have not had that kind of support in any training I have had in my 10 years of post-undergraduate education.”

Fun Fact: Margaret spent one summer hiking the 440-mile Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.

I have not had that kind of support in any training I have had in my 10 years of post-undergraduate education.