4 Min ReadPeople 20 February 2020
Having a successful career and a happy home life can prove to be a difficult goal for a lot of working mothers, but Yale-educated and Columbia-trained plastic surgeon Dr. Lara Devgan proves that through determination, hard work, and a lot of organization, working moms really can have the best of both worlds.
It wasn't always an easy road for this award-winning surgeon, as becoming a successful female surgeon in a male-dominated field (statistics say 90& of board-certified plastic surgeons are men) definitely came with its fair share of roadblocks and challenges.
“I think that anytime a woman is entering a field that is dominated by men, there is set up for needing to work twice as hard and be twice as good in order to be taken seriously," says Devgan. “And so, in a way, this teaches you good work ethic and the drive to succeed."
Through her own motivation and personal work ethic, Dr. Devgan definitely achieved her goal in becoming a successful surgeon, as she currently has been ranked the "#1 female cosmetic surgeon" in New York by RateMDs, and has been featured as a "Super Doctors Rising Star" plastic surgeon in The New York Times Magazine. She also is an attending plastic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, and Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Infirmary, where she teaches plastic surgery residents and fellows.
But in addition to her very successful (and not to mention busy) career, Devgan also says her family is one of her biggest achievements in life, as she is currently a mother of five (with another baby on the way) living in the Upper East Side with her husband. However, she admits that balancing her time at home with her busy workload can be quite challenging. But, through planning and a lot of organization, she does her best to make sure she spends time on both her professional and home lives.
“In terms of balancing, I have a really supportive husband and we have a lot of help, but I also know my limits," she says. “For example, I am not someone who you are going to find cooking and cleaning around the house. And while there is a little part of me that likes the idea of baking cookies at home, to me, I feel that is just not something I am able to do at this time. However, I do think that my kids get something out of seeing me as someone who works hard and cares about other things outside of our living room."
Although work and family play a big part of Devgan's life, she also finds to time to indulge in her passion for beauty with a podcast called Beauty Bosses, which features industry leaders in fashion, wellness, art, and media. The podcast (which she finds time to record on Tuesday afternoons) is currently number five on the iTunes global top charts for beauty and fashion, and has featured guests such as interior designers, artists, writers, and actresses.
And of course, as beauty is her business, Devgan has also tapped into her entrepreneurial side and has launched a new skincare line called Dr. Devgan Scientific Beauty, which has been sold at pop-up shops at Bergdorf Goodman and Blushington. The new line, which she formulated (and tested on) herself, uses active ingredients that have been clinically validated in large-scale randomized control studies. Products inside the line include lip plumpers, lash serums, and creams, which have already received a lot of buzz in the press and have proven to be quite popular among certain celebrity clientele. Devgan only hopes the line grows even more in the coming year, especially since she says each product in the line has demonstrated scientific efficacy.
But with so many successes already under her belt, it may seem impossible to become a multitasking triple-threat like Dr. Devgan. However, she says the best advice she can give working mothers is to not be afraid to get support (no woman, man, or family is an island!) whenever possible, and always appreciate the little things, even on those mundane or super challenging days. Most importantly, she stresses the importance of working mothers not beating themselves up about any limitations they may have in their lives, especially since most working parents won't always be apart of every single special moment of their child's life.
“Don't beat yourself up over the guilt of not being there for every little moment because your kids are getting something out of witnessing you having this work ethic and being passionate and working towards a goal," she says.
And professionally, she advises that while there is always room for extremely talented people, there are certainly always going to be hurdles to overcome along the way. She should know, as she was an English major and exhibited artist before even going to medical school. However, she says, good things always take time, and while people may say you can't have it all, you really can, but maybe not altogether at once.
“One piece of advice I got when I was younger was that you can have it all, but not necessarily at the same time," she says. “There will be different times in your life when you'll focus on one thing more than another thing and that's OK. It's important to remember that it's a long game, not necessarily a short one."
This piece was originally published May 20, 2018.
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Help! I Might Get Fired!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
What's the best way to be prepared for a layoff? Because of the crisis, I am worried that my company is going to let me go soon, what can I do to be prepared? Is now a good time to send resumes? Should I save money? Redesign my website? Be proactive at work? Make myself non-disposable?
- Restless & Jobless
Dear Restless & Jobless,
I'm sorry that you're feeling anxious about your employment status. There are many people like yourself in this pandemic who are navigating an uncertain future, many have already lost their jobs. In my experience as a former professional recruiter for almost a decade, I always told my candidates the importance of periodically being passively on the market. This way, you'd know your worth, and you'd be able to track the market rates that may have changed over time, and sometimes even your job title which might have evolved unbeknownst to you.
This is a great time to reach out to your network, update your online professional presence (LinkedIn etc.), and send resumes. Though I'm not a fan of sending a resume blindly into a large database. Rather, talk to friends or email acquaintances and have them directly introduce you to someone who knows someone at a list of companies and people you have already researched. It's called "working closest to the dollar."
Here's a useful article with some great COVID-times employment tips; it suggests to "post ideas, articles, and other content that will attract and engage your target audience—specifically recruiters." If you're able to, try to steer away from focusing too much on the possibility of getting fired, instead spend your energy being the best you can be at work, and also actively being on the job market. Schedule as many video calls as you can, there's nothing like good ol' face-to-face meetings to get yourself on someone's radar. If your worries get the best of you, I recommend you schedule time with a qualified therapist. When you're ready, lean into that video chat and werk!
- The Armchair Psychologist
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Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I'm an independent consultant in NYC. I just filed for unemployment, but I feel a little guilty collecting because a) I'm not looking for a job (there are none anyway) and b) the company that will pay just happens to be the one that had me file a W2 last year; I've done other 1099 work since then.
I'm sorry that you're wracked with guilt. It's admirable that your conscience is making you re-evaluate whether you are entitled to "burden the system" so to speak as a state's unemployment funds can run low. Shame researchers, like Dr. Brené Brown, believe that the difference between shame and guilt is that shame is often rooted in the self/self-worth and is often destructive whereas guilt is based on one's behavior and compels us to do better. "I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it's holding something we've done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort."
Your guilt sounds like a healthy problem. Many people feel guilty about collecting unemployment benefits because of how they were raised and the assumption that it's akin to "seeking charity." You're entitled to your unemployment benefits, and it was paid into a fund for you by your employer with your own blood, sweat, and tears. Also, you aren't committing an illegal act. The benefits are there to relieve you in times when circumstances prevent you from having a job. Each state may vary, but the NY State Department of Labor requires that you are actively job searching. The Cares Act which was passed in March 2020 also may provide some relief. I recommend that you collect the relief you need but to be sure that you meet the criteria by actively searching for a job just in case anyone will hire you.
- The Armchair Psychologist