Ruth Arumala is the sole OBGYN at Texas Hugley Medical Associates in Mansfield, Texas. She takes care of a range of OBGYN concerns but specializes in care for PCOS, fibroids and infertility. She got into this field because she wants to provide excellent medical care to women of color who have similar issues. She is a strong advocate for women’s health issues especially sexual assault and domestic violence.
In addition to that, she is the host of the Pretty in Pink Podcast hosted on Apple podcasts, Spotify and Soundcloud. This podcast was inspired by her friends who ask questions that every woman should have with their gynecologist!
Ruth has dedicated her life to women’s empowerment by ensuring that every woman’s health is optimized so that they can be a career queen, boss lady, super momma, excellent partner and fabulous bestie! She shared her career journey with LFE:
When did you discover your passion for medicine? My interest in pursuing a career in medicine was sparked at an early age observing my mother as a physician in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Although I thought becoming a physician like my biggest role model would be cool, during my teen years I was more interested in fashion and sports. Due to a natural ability to excel in the sciences, I was encouraged to study Cellular & Molecular Biology/ Genetics in college. I did well in this major but was still not convinced medicine was for me. I wanted to effect change at a much larger scale than treating one patient at a time thus I decided to do a Master of Public Health degree. During these two years, I really developed a passion for medicine. I knew that in order to create the change I wanted to see, I needed to be an expert in my field. It was a mature decision sparked from observing the physicians I encountered and red about.
What is it like to be a black woman in medicine? Being Black in Medicine is an interesting position. As a physician to non-black patients, sometimes your ability and position is questioned. Unfortunately, this is not too different from treating many black patients. The truth is, older black female patients tend to be excited and proud of me and my accomplishments. Many have heralded me as their daughter. They are proud!
Amongst peers, we tend to be scrutinized and challenged in unusual ways. In my infancy in this profession, this used to enrage me. Over time, however, it has challenged me to improve my skills and knowledge in order to not only withstand these unnecessary criticisms but also to provide the exceptional care I intend to give every patient.
From a global/ institutional sense, being black in medicine is no different that being black in any other esteemed profession or circle. There are lots of microaggressions to be combatted on a constant basis. In my opinion, there are also lots of opportunities to represent my community in the most positive light.
Medical school is notorious for being extremely difficult! What are some coping mechanisms you employed during this time of your life? Medical school was not difficult for me. I know many of my colleagues would disagree but I enjoyed the challenge. I loved the information I imbibed on a daily basis. I love structure and rigor so I fit right in (I know this exposed my inner nerd but this is my truth.) I encountered a tragic life-changing event during my 2nd year of medical school: the passing of my brother Samuel O. Arumala, This was the challenge! Completing medical school with a broken heart. I coped by running (I became a full marathon runner) and dedicating my efforts to honoring him and his legacy.
What inspired you to specialize in gynecology? I chose gynecology in between my 3rd and 4th year of medicine.I originally wanted to specialize in dermatology as I wanted to be the go to chic for skincare to the stars! No joke, this was legitimately my plan! I took a year off medical school to do a dermatology research program via UPenn in Botswana.During this time, I delved into what Dermatology really was.I knew that I wanted to focus on patients that looked like me and had similar struggles and I wanted to do surgery on a semi-regular basis. I chose Ob/Gyn because it had all the criteria I think people should seek in a profession :
- intellectually stimulating
- morally rewarding
- ability to change lives
- ability to become a true expert
Being a physician and advocate for women is my calling!
We love your podcast! It can be hard for black women to find doctors that pay attention to their needs. Black women are more likely to suffer from women’s health problems. What advise do you have for women who are looking for reliable female doctors? As a black woman, seeking an obstetrician/gynecologist may be challenging. Here is my advice. Look for someone who listens to you and pays special attention to your lifestyle and specific circumstances. You need to form a relationship with a physician/ midwife/ nurse practitioner/ physician assistant you trust!
What advice do you have for women who want to pursue a career in medicine? For my sisters who are looking to pursue a career in medicine particularly as a physician, here is my advice :
- Believe in yourself regardless of what academic counsellors, professors etc tell you. You can become a physician! There are many paths to this profession (Don’t let anyone tell you differently)
- The most important skills you can have are work ethic, determination, drive and DISCIPLINE. You can’t do what everyone else is doing. You will have to pay a lot of sacrifices on the altar of medicine.
- Rome was not built in a day and neither will your medical career. Patience is key!
- Life is not lived in silos. Live life as you build your career. Date. Marry. Have children! Many women can do both!
- Find a mentor. Seek female physicians in a field you desire to be a part of. Contact them and ask them specific questions. Some may decline but that is ok. Keep seeking until you find someone who can help.