Stories of Love, Loss, and Wonder - Dr. Julianne Szczepanski Shares Her Experience

By Anastazia Hartman | October 4 2023

Those who work in healthcare know how stressful yet rewarding this field can be and those who are parents know that parenting while working in healthcare is not always an easy task. Dr. Julianne Szczepanski knows both sides, and she shared her story in the recent Michigan Medicine publication, Parenting on the Frontlines: Stories of Love, Loss, and Wonder.

Julianne Szczepanski 2.jpgWhile sharing her story was difficult for many reasons, such as the time constraints of working in medicine, Szczepanski has been open about the challenges she has faced. Her experience includes the loss of her first pregnancy, which she says she has always been open about sharing. Writing this piece was difficult due to her time spent both working and parenting. She mentioned when asked about the challenges of writing, “It sort of felt ironic that I wouldn’t have time to write a story reflecting on parenting in medicine because of my duties as a parent and as a worker in medicine. So, I am glad that I chose to prioritize this one.”

Szczepanski has worked her best to balance her career and her life as a parent. While genuinely enjoying the work that she performs is a bonus, she says she is also lucky to have a support system inside and outside of work that shares in the exciting moments of life and helps in other areas. Regarding other stories of parenting as a healthcare worker and the challenges different people face, she says, “It was nice to see the stories written on paper and to witness this community form - one which is inclusive to all kinds of experiences in parenting.” 

She knows that every experience is unique and there is no one ideal solution, but she did have some advice for parents with similar experiences. “Do not be ashamed to do what is best for you and the people you love - you should not have to feel guilty for that.” Szczepanski also knows that this advice applies to herself, mentioning that she should not always feel guilty for leaving work early or staying at work late, a good piece of advice that can apply to any person in any field of work.

When asked about anything else she wanted to share regarding the stories shared by herself and others, she responded honestly and openly. “This book was inclusive to all stories, not just stories that could be viewed as ones with a ‘happy ending’. I loved how humanizing this was and how this book was intended in that way to create a community.” The book contains stories of all natures and experiences, and if a second volume is planned, Szczepanski encourages more people to contribute their stories and experiences.

She concluded with the following quote: “My short reflection is just a small part of a wonderful compilation of stories. Writing this made me feel like my experiences were important and meaningful in a way that I hadn’t noticed before - even if they weren’t unique. I’m hoping this book allows both readers and writers to have similar feelings of purpose and solace.”

Dr. Szczepanski’s journey is one we can all take something from, and so are the rest of the stories included in the publication.