Meet Dr. Shannon Martin
“Sometimes that means missing a few innings of the baseball game to do your best at work because that’s actually making family a priority by teaching your kids the value of hard work and the importance of taking care of people.”
Hello everyone, welcome back, and happy Sunday! This is a very exciting post. Today, we’re highlighting Dr. Shannon Martin, an ophthalmologist at Oaklawn Hospital. Dr. Martin was the first physician I reached out to when I first began this blog--and the one I’m ecstatic to write about today. As a young pre-med student and hopeful mother, Dr. Martin inspired me, because she gracefully balances being a mother and a physician (she’s a rockstar at both, too). Many women who hope to become mothers often feel discouraged to go to medical school. I hope Dr. Martin’s story inspires those same women to reconsider.
Dr. Martin has always known she’s wanted to become a physician. Growing up, she spent an ample amount of time in the hospital, as her brother had a chronic illness and was in the hospital every two weeks for a procedure. Dr. Martin always watched the physicians, and “was fascinated by the science and in awe of the compassion the nurses and doctors provided in caring” for their family. As Dr. Martin grew older, her thoughts about becoming a doctor didn’t waver. She knew it was her passion in life. “I wanted to be a part of a world where I could challenge my mind and open my heart to people. I always tell my kids that their job, every day, is to spread God’s love. And as an adult, that means figuring out what gifts God gave you and using those to spread His love. So, I feel like that’s what I’m doing.”
After high school, Dr. Martin attended Denison University in Granville, Ohio with a major in Psychology and a minor in Chemistry. She later went on to apply to medical school and attended Rush University in Chicago.
When Dr. Martin first started medical school, she intended on going to a residency for internal medicine and pediatrics. Dr. Martin wanted to pursue a pediatric cardiology fellowship and eventually care for adults with congenital heart disease. However, during her fourth-year rotations in medical school, while she was applying for residencies, she did a short rotation in ophthalmology. Dr. Martin’s intent with the ophthalmology rotation was just to learn how to better use an ophthalmoscope. She did better learn how to use an ophthalmoscope--in fact, she ended up totally falling in love with the field of ophthalmology.
She was late in the game, though, and knew she had to start rapidly applying to ophthalmology residency programs. Ophthalmology programs are highly competitive, as well as early-match programs. Early-match programs are residency programs medical students apply earlier to. The four specialties that utilize early-match programs are neurology, ophthalmology, neurosurgery, and urology (American Medical Association). Unlike most students, Dr. Martin hadn’t had the time to do research on how to make herself a better candidate for the ophthalmology program, as she had decided to apply late in the process. She explained to the programs that she had had no idea that ophthalmology was what she wanted to pursue, and that she would have ‘checked all of the boxes,’ per se, had she known it was the field she wanted to work in. When Dr. Martin interviewed at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, she felt at home. She was later accepted into their ophthalmology residency, stating “It had to have been part of God’s plan.”
Dr. Martin noted she was very lucky in her medical journey. “I was born into a family that was always supportive. They encouraged me through school and made sure that I was offered the best and doing my best.”
As for role models, Dr. Martin says she has plenty. Her brother, notably, is the driving force behind her career in medicine. “I see my brother and our family in every patient I treat, in every disease or diagnosis I give, and in every family member that sits by, concerned about their loved one. It gets harder and harder with the whole culture of medicine changing to more of a business model, but I make sure to treat every patient just like I would have wanted my brother to be treated.” Dr. Martin’s patients rave about her intensive care and compassion. She is a highly recommended ophthalmologist in Marshall, Michigan.
I asked Dr. Martin if she had any advice for students, and her answer was much different than the traditional bullet-point list of advice I post. “I’m not one for advice. Everyone has their own journey. I haven’t walked in anyone else’s shoes, so their path will certainly be different from mine. I would probably offer the same advice to anyone getting into any field. Whatever you choose to do, do it to the best of your ability. I guess that’s the same thing I said above. Just find out how God made you special, and use that gift to spread His love, and your heart will always be full.” Religious or non-religious, Dr. Martin’s advice is applicable: Do what you love, and do it well. This is something people often say, but typically not enough.
To end our conversation, I decided to ask Dr. Martin about her experience of balancing motherhood and physicianhood. Often, I hear young women saying that the reason they don’t want to go to medical school is because they don’t feel they can be a mom, or more often than that, a good, present mom. Dr. Martin, I feel, is a great example of a woman who is both a wonderful, present mom, and a devoted physician. Here’s what she said about the subject:
“I’m sitting at my desk [currently]. I finished clinic 90 minutes ago, and since then, I’ve been closing charts, reading tests, returning phone calls, and reviewing lab results. I’ve also been coordinating carpool for two soccer practices (and laughing about what my daughter’s hair is going to look like in the soccer pictures tonight because dad had to put it in a ponytail), printing out virtual school assignments that are due later this week, and ordering Hungry Howie’s pizza for the school fundraiser that I’m going to pick up and take to the baseball fields, where I’m going to let the other kids eat and watch my 8-year-old play baseball, while I nurse the baby. There is no such thing as balance. Get your priorities straight: God and family first, and then work. Sometimes that means missing a few innings of the baseball game to do your best at work because that’s actually making family a priority by teaching your kids the value of hard work, and the importance of taking care of people. It’s always crazy and I love it and I wouldn’t have made it any other way.”
I hope everyone had a wonderful week. We’ll see you all next Sunday!
“Learning about Early Match Programs.” American Medical Association, www.ama-assn.org/residents-students/career-planning-resource/learning-about-early-match-programs.