Contributions to STEMM
As a pediatric hospitalist, Dr. Mittal balances multiple responsibilities. Clinically, she “cares for children aged 2 days to 18 years when they require hospitalization,” she said. As an educator, “I teach medical students, residents, and fellows about caring for hospitalized children.” As the Division Chief of Pediatric Hospital Medicine, “I manage a faculty practice of 28-plus faculty that cares for over 30% of children hospitalized at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Pediatric hospital medicine is the newest specialty of the American Board of Pediatrics, and in my leadership role, I am developing a strong foundation for our inaugural division,” Dr. Mittal said. Dr. Mittal also started UTSW’s inaugural ACGME-approved fellowship in pediatric hospital medicine.
“Growing up in India, I had many role models in my family. They were not only successful physicians, but they lived a very fulfilled and meaningful life.”
Specifically, she credits her aunt with providing a compassionate example of a career in medicine. “Every summer, I visited my aunt, who was raising a family and is a very successful physician. I would tag along with her to her clinic, and see the warmth and sweetness with which she interacted with her patients, and how much they trusted her. She cared from her heart and never turned away anyone – rich or poor. She would give money to her poor patients to buy medicine, and they showered her with vegetables and fruits from their farm. She laughed and joked with them, and I saw a role model very early on in my life. She loved both her patients and her family, cared deeply for those she loved, and lived her life to the fullest – and I wanted to be just like her.”
The UT Southwestern Difference
Dr. Mittal said the most satisfying part of her job is “practicing in an intellectually stimulating academic environment, teaching residents and students at the bedside, and giving dignity and respect to the underserved patients we serve. I love teaching clinical medicine to students and residents, and teaching them the core values of respect, dignity, and professionalism in medicine.”
She views the Celebrating Breakthroughs Together Project as “an investment in supporting and celebrating women. As someone who has benefited directly from UT Southwestern’s rich resources to develop a professionally satisfying and meaningful academic career, I feel honored to be part of this project.”
Advice to the Next Generation
“I have encountered several roadblocks, like many women in medicine encounter. Each roadblock has taught me to find an alternative path to get to my goals,” Dr. Mittal said.
“Where there are people, there are politics. Navigating through the power and political dynamics thoughtfully is important for professional growth. Learning to navigate through such obstacles has made me strong and emotionally intelligent.”
Her advice to young girls is, “Pursue your dream to the fullest and never give up. Women work hard, but hard work in itself is not enough. You must invest in seeking out mentors, sponsors, and like-minded people to build a strong professional network. Professional network is your professional capital, so cast a wider net. A professional career is like a marathon, so enjoy the little things and big things in life, and pace yourself. As you get support from your network, don't forget to give back.”