We asked 5 questions of WNG members to learn more about their career, what keeps them motivated, and how they spend their time outside of work.
Our November 2022 WNG Member Spotlight is Akanksha Sharma, MD,
Assistant Professor at Pacific Neuroscience Institute/ Saint John's Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, CA.
1. What inspired you to pursue neurology?
Although my mother has been deaf since childhood, she lip-reads in two languages, obtained her PhD at the best university in India, is a researcher, writer, artist, dancer, and raised two kids in India, and then as an immigrant. I was always amazed by her and questioned how her brain works and "listens." This led to my fascination with the brain and neurosciences. At a young age I realized I loved listening to people's stories and being involved in their care, and that led me to medicine and neurology!
2. As a woman neurologist, what is one challenge that you face in your career?
It is hard, even in 2022, to be heard as a woman, especially in my subspecialty of neuro-oncology and neuropalliative care. This means sharing my opinion verbally, or having my work recognized or seen. I constantly, like most of my female colleagues, have to walk the line between seeming firm, confident, and strong versus being labeled "aggressive." I have had to learn how to communicate in a specific manner over time to meet this challenge in my daily work.
3. What is one piece of advice you’ve been given that had an impact on you?
My mentor in medical school told me, "people will love you for 15 minutes and then hate you for the next 15, take neither to heart." I keep this in mind both when I get praise from patients and families and when they're dissatisfied. It has helped me stay grounded and also helped me when I felt insecure.
4. How do you best spend your time outside of work?
I love crafts and did a variety: polymer clay, crocheting, knitting, needle felting. I used to do that a lot more but I recently had a baby! So, all of my off-work time is now devoted to playing with her and watching her smile and laugh. I also love spending time with our little dog baby.
5. What do you appreciate most about the WNG community?
The collaboration and advice. I feel fortunate to be a part of this amazing group where we can give each other support, encouragement, answer questions, and also find ways to work with each other in different ways so that in the end all of us grow together. I've made so many new connections via WNG, done research with others, and learned so much.
Interested in being featured in our WNG Member Spotlight? Email Alicia Bigica at email@example.com with subject line "WNG Member Spotlight"