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Striking Balance: Health, Family, Career and Happiness

Striking Balance: Health, Family, Career and Happiness


“The difference between those who survive and those who don’t isn’t merely skill—the difference is what happens when failure comes around.” 

~ Maribel Campos-Rivera, MD

Learning to balance health, family, career and your happiness is the hardest and most rewarding lesson to learn.

By Mallory Molina

Previously in this article series, I discussed how mentoring and family wishes can affect your career path. However, something that is often overlooked but is critical to your success and the quality of your life is how your health and family needs can affect your happiness and career. Maribel Campos-Rivera, MD, has contended with this issue, and did not let it stop her from accomplishing what she wanted in life.

Dr. Campos-Rivera is both a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, as well as a neonatal-perinatal pediatrician at Hospital Auxilio Mutuo. Her dual appointment was not her planned career path, but she determined to adjust her plans so she could both “grow professionally and be present” for her family.

A dream career.
Dr. Campos-Rivera began as an Assistant Professor at the University of Puerto Rico as teaching faculty in the Neonatal Perinatal division with particular interest in research. As she continued on, she became more interested in gestational diseases as part of the developmental origins of adult diseases theory. This hit especially close to home as her sister dealt with gestational diabetes and she witnessed first-hand the complications the disorder brings to a pregnancy. She then branched into preventative research and a lot of her work with undergraduate and graduate students focused on those topics.


Strength in the face of adversity.
She continued on this career path, until she met and pursued the adoption of her son. He has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and has particular financial and emotional needs she could not meet with just her professorship. Luckily she had a support network and she was able to get a dual appointment, which allowed her to have the money from a private practice as well as the work and exciting research work from her professorship. Many people told her that this might be the end of her academic career, but in the end, she was recognized for the merit of full professorship. She explained, “No one other than yourself has the right to set what you accomplish in life,” and she is living embodiment of that.

Dr. Campos-Rivera is also very active in her community, participating in events like the Race for the Cure, and creating awareness for the risk of cardiovascular health issues for breast cancer survivors. As a survivor herself, she knows that you can focus so much on not getting cancer again, that cardiovascular health can be forgotten. “I use these life experiences to help me think about how the end result of anything I do will benefit those beyond me,” she said. This sentiment is also evident by the proudest accomplishment of her career: seeing students she has trained being successful and working to get what they want out of their careers.


Learning from setbacks.
Throughout her career, Dr. Campos-Rivera has faced and overcome many challenges. She concluded, “Adversity is a given, so when it happens be prepared. The difference between those who survive and those who don’t isn’t merely skill—the difference is what happens when failure comes around. Those who survive take failure as a lesson learned and move on.”

We all need to remember these words of wisdom whenever we face our inevitable trials. Struggles in your career will happen, and when it does, don’t give in. Instead, learn from them and rise up to continue on.


Copyright © 2016 by Jedidah Isler
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