Women Who Lead
Theresa Moore Becker, DO ’90

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Executive Network Director, Division of Emergency Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital; Medical Director of Pediatrics, Beverly Hospital; Attending Physician, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital and Beverly Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts

Headshot photograph of Theresa Moore Becker, DO ’90“I oversee 50 full-time physicians, and a big part of my responsibility is hiring. In the last academic year I hired 17 physicians, mostly women. ... I find that women never ask for more money. I sometimes say in an interview, ‘And this is the time when you ask for a sign-on bonus.’ ... A lot of pediatric emergency medicine fellows and pediatricians are women, and the thing they worry about most is having a life outside of medicine—about the pressure of allocating time appropriately between demands. They wonder if there’s time to get married and have children. Of course there is. Women tend to have longer careers than men because they are often healthier and tend to live longer, so they have time later in their career to consider a leadership role. So I tell them it’s OK to take care of your family early on. And I tell them that deciding to be a leader in medicine means pursuing your goals to improve care—doing what you want to do. ... There are no cowboys in pediatric emergency medicine. It’s very family-centered care. A lot of the evidence about certain things we do is based on adults, so we proceed cautiously. ... Reimbursements are down, but the numbers of patients are up, and so is the complexity of our cases. We’re worried about the intersection of these things. ... We like to partner with general pediatricians so they can treat patients in their offices when possible. But some people don’t have primary care physicians, or can’t afford not to go to work, or lack transportation, and then they end up in the emergency room. ... I’ve had as many male mentors as female. Good mentors give you a chance. In medicine, you spend so much time training to be a good clinician, but not a good leader. Mentors have to be able to let you make your own mistakes.”