Ann Weber, M.D., has been a department chief, a chief of staff and a chief medical officer, but none of those leadership roles were on her radar when she began practicing.
“If you had asked me when I graduated medical school if I would be doing what I am doing now, I would have said no because I was extremely happy practicing clinically,” Dr. Weber said. Instead of carefully plotting out her career, she followed opportunities that she found intriguing and that enabled her to make a difference in the field.
Her father, a pharmacist, and her older brother, a physician, influenced her interest in pursuing a career in medicine. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she also attended medical school and completed her residency. She practiced hospital medicine at HCA North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville before opting to join a primary care practice affiliated with the medical center so that she could spend more time with her children.
In 2004, when the medical center asked her to chair its department of medicine, her life as a clinical leader began. In 2012, she was tapped as chief medical officer (CMO), a role her late husband urged her to take. She spent seven years as CMO, which enabled her to leverage her clinical knowledge to inform and improve the hospital’s operations and strategy.
“As leaders, we can have a bigger impact on the health of our communities by supporting evidence-based healthcare,” Dr. Weber explained. “It is our responsibility to gain insight into what our community needs.” That is one of the benefits of being in the Envision Physician Services organization, whose mission is to improve life in our communities one moment at a time. “We've got some great female leaders in this organization who make a huge difference every single day,” Dr. Weber said. “We should be proud of the role that they play in influencing healthcare in this country.”
One way Dr. Weber influences her own community is through her service on the advisory board of The Village, a senior living community. However, perhaps Dr. Weber’s most impactful experience is her involvement with WatchMeRun, a nonprofit organization that helps people with impaired balance due to cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, stroke, amputations or other balance or mobility-limiting conditions obtain adaptive RaceRunning bikes. The bikes are custom-built tricycles without pedals that enable impaired athletes to run.
“These bikes provide a sense of freedom that can be life-changing,” Dr. Weber explained. “They are quite expensive, and we’ve been able to raise funds to help 15 people obtain these bikes. It’s been an amazingly rewarding experience.”
Advice for Being a Woman in Medicine
As her career has evolved, Dr. Weber admitted that she has struggled to strike a healthy balance between work life and family life at times.
“As a mother of three teenagers, you do struggle with your ‘mom hat’ and your ‘physician hat’ and balancing it all against the expectations that society has for you,” Dr. Weber shared. “Sometimes you feel like you have missed something for your kids or you feel like you’re a little distracted at work, and so you question ‘Did I do all that I could?’”
A mentor offered her the following advice: “You are going to figure out how to do this. Every day is a struggle. Every day, you are going to go to bed and feel like you did not do one of your jobs as a mother or a physician to the level that you really wanted to, but just know that if you tried your best, then you are successful at both.”
Women make excellent physicians, she said, because they are nurturers and healers by nature. While she believes medicine is more accepting of female physicians now than it was 40 years ago, she urges women to continue to assert themselves in the workplace: “Don’t ever be intimidated because you’re female. If you do feel that way … make sure you put yourself at the table with everybody else and voice your opinions. The time, discipline, effort and intelligence required to become a physician is great, so be proud of what you do and know your value.”
“Being a physician is a privilege. Never lose sight that we're here to take care of the patient. If you always remember to do what's right for the patient, everything else is going to work out,” she said.