Why She’s Amazing

Becca Nause-Osthoff doesn’t want to be a princess. She wants to be more.

Becca cannot remember ever wanting to be anything else besides a doctor. Perhaps that’s not surprising given the lineage of medical professionals in her family. Becca, however, also credits “always being drawn to healing” as a strong inspiration to become the first female doctor in her family in five generations.

Becca set a goal and worked diligently to achieve it. The numerous years of schooling, the long hours studying and the baffling questions about how she would be able to be a good mother and doctor did not deter her. In fact, she met incredible women in medicine along the way and believes strongly that women make excellent physicians.

Becca found her calling as a Pediatric Anesthesiologist and currently works for the University of Michigan Health System. Becca loves her specialty as it allows her to work in wonderful teams of people who are absolutely dedicated to providing children with the best care and experience they can receive.

We had a chance to ask Becca a few questions. We think you’ll agree that her intelligence, dedication and compassion make a powerful combination!

“I feel rewarded, energized and humbled by my opportunity to play a small role in these kids’ lives.” – Becca Nause-Osthoff

Q & A

Q: When you were a young girl, what did you want to be when you grew up and why?

A: I have always wanted to be a doctor. I cannot remember ever wanting to be anything else. I’m not really sure where the idea came from originally, but it probably was in part due to the fact that there is a long lineage of physicians in my family which normalized the profession for me a bit. I think I also have just always been drawn to healing. My mom likes to tell a story of how, as a young child, I would dig up worms from the garden in order to “take care of them.” In retrospect, I’m sure the worms did not actually appreciate my actions, but I was only trying to help!

Q: What did people think when you told them that?

A: I have been very fortunate to have overwhelming support from my family. No one has ever questioned my ability or choice. Along the way, however, I have experienced the flip side. I recall an interaction in high school where a male classmate told me that I would not be able to be a good wife and mother if I became a doctor. That was a really poignant moment for me – I still remember sitting in study hall and being totally blind-sided by that statement and belief.

Q: Did people call you “princess” when you were a little girl and, if so, how did that make you feel?

A: For the most part, I don’t really recall ever being called or treated like a princess growing up. I never really was super interested in dolls or princess things. I mostly read or played outside. I was obsessed with the Nancy Drew series as a young girl, which was encouraged by my parents. I always felt like I was completely appreciated by my parents for who I was.

Q: How did you become interested in becoming a pediatric anesthesiologist?

A: While I always knew that I wanted to be a physician, it was not until my 3rd year of medical school that I settled on anesthesia. Once I started my anesthesia residency, I knew that I wanted to specialize further, but I wasn’t sure in what. I remember working with one of the pediatric anesthesiologists during my first year of anesthesia residency, and he told me that he thought I would love pediatric anesthesia and that it would be a good fit for me. I had not really considered it before but that stuck with me. When I finally rotated through pediatric anesthesia for the first time, it was like a lightbulb had been switched on. I really enjoy anesthesia, but I LOVE pediatric anesthesia. This particular specialty allows me to work in wonderful teams of people who are absolutely dedicated to providing children with the best care and experience they can receive. On a daily basis, I feel rewarded, energized and humbled by my opportunity to play a small role in these kids’ lives.

Q: What did you have to do to accomplish this?

A: Lots and lots of school. After undergraduate, I went to four years of medical school. After medical school, I matched into residency which lasts four years for anesthesia (one intern year and three specialized years). Following residency, I chose to complete an additional fellowship year to sub-specialize further in pediatrics. In addition to the years of training, there are also many standardized board exams starting with the MCAT to get accepted into medical school, continuing with your general board exams for the MD and ending with my board exams for both general anesthesia and pediatric anesthesia.

Q: Did you have a mentor or role model who inspired you?

A: I have had many role models over the years. My first and lasting role model was my grandfather. As a surgeon, he understood the rewards and challenges of pursuing a career in medicine first-hand. Throughout the entire process, he was there for me as soundboard and empathetic ear. I definitely feel his loss now that he has passed away. I’ve also had great role models at the University of Michigan where I did my residency, fellowship and am currently employed. My colleagues are wonderful and inspirational people who help me every day.

Q: Did your family and friends support your aspirations?

A: Absolutely, 100%. I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by such positive people in my life. My friends and family have only ever buoyed me up along the way. I also think that I am extremely lucky to meet a partner like my fiancé, Marc, who views my career path and aspirations as really positive things that are at the core of who I am, as I realize that not all people are so enlightened.

Q: Did you think about being called a “trailblazer” for choosing this path?

A: It is certainly very flattering, but I don’t think it’s that accurate. There were a lot of amazing female trailblazers in medicine who have laid the framework for me. In reality, at least 50% of current medical students are women. Unfortunately, the public perception is lagging behind the actual reality, and many people still don’t realize that many of the best physicians are women. I think that’s an area that a lot of social media campaigns are aimed at improving…hopefully it works!

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Q: What motivates you?

A: My patients motivate me. As a physician, you always strive to be the best that you can be so your patients can have the best because that’s what they deserve. Sometimes, I see people on the worst days of their lives and I hope that, in some way, I can make their horrible day less horrible, keep them safe during their surgical procedures and provide comfort during scary moments.

Q: Of what are you most proud?

A: I’m proud of the fact that I set a goal and achieved it. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay committed to a goal that takes such a long time and demands so much of you both physically with long hours and emotionally with really tragic patient stories that stick with you forever, but I am really grateful that I have.

Q: What would you like people to learn from you?

A: I hope that people learn that medicine is a great field for women. I am surrounded by remarkable and inspirational women in all areas of medicine — general medicine, surgery, anesthesia, etc. Many of the women I am privileged to call my friends and colleagues are trailblazers in their own right, and they inspire on a daily basis. Women make excellent physicians.

Q: What three words would you like people to use to describe you?

A: Energetic. Thoughtful. Compassionate.

Q: What do you want people to know about you outside of your accomplishments, including being the first female in a 5th generation lineage of medical professionals in your family?

A: That’s a really tough question. Most of my adult life has been devoted to achieving my professional goals; however, I try to maintain a balance with my family and friends and my career. I think attaining equilibrium with all the important forces in my life is really essential, and it is something that I work hard to constantly develop.

Q: Given the choice, would you do it all again?

A: Absolutely, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. It has been a very long and challenging path, but there is something really rewarding about doing what you love every day.

Q: Who do you follow on social media that shares your passion for encouraging girls to enter into medicine?

A: I belong to a “Women in Medicine” group on Facebook which shows the perspectives of lots of inspirational female physicians, but I don’t really follow any one person.

Q: If you could eat lunch with one person, whom would it be?

A: That is an incredibly difficult question to answer. Lately, I have been really inspired by Loretta Lynch (Attorney General of the United States) and her unyielding quest for justice and fairness. I would love to have lunch with her.

Q: Which woman would you choose to have on U.S. currency?

A: Susan B. Anthony

Q: What advice would you give to a girl who right now wants to be just like you?

A: I would tell her to go for it and to surround herself with supportive people who believe in her vision. It is absolutely a long road, but it is so worth it.

Bonus Question: What question would you ask the next Modern Day Trailblazer we interview?

A: Do you continue to feel like there are road blocks to achieving your goals? How do you deal with these?

Fun Facts:

  • Becca is a a morning person — always has been, always will be.
  • Her fiancé, Marc, sent her the last text message that she received.
  • Becca is definitely early – always.
  • Her favorite season is fall.
  • Becca’s favorite quote is “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.