Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Marianne McGrath, November 14, 2018

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Childhood

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Partial Transcript: Hello, I'm Karen Clancy. It's November 14th, 2018, and I'm sitting here talking to Dr. Mary McGrath.

Segment Synopsis: McGrath shares details of her life growing up in Bellevue, Pennsylvania. She was the oldest of 8 children and her father served as an obstetrician in World War II. He then worked as a physician for the Veteran's Administration. When she turned 10, McGrath was struck with Polio. She was put in the contagious ward of the hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After three weeks, she was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, where she stayed for a year. McGrath shares how traumatic it was for her to be away from her family for so long. Her father knew Jonas Salk from the University of Pittsburgh and McGrath recalls her family being a part of Salk's experimental polio vaccine study.

Keywords: Acute care facilities; Children of physicians; Clinic practices; Crutches; D. T. Watson Home for Crippled Children; Hospitals; Immunizations; Jonas Salk; Muscles; Needles; Paralysis; Physicians; Polio; Poliovirus; Rehabilitation; Rehabilitation hospitals; Siblings; Symptoms; Traumatic experiences; Treatments; Vaccinations; Veterans Administration (VA)

Subjects: Bellevue (Pa.); Childhood; Families; Fort Thomas (Ky.); Medicine; Obstetrics; Pittsburgh (Pa.); Poliomyelitis; University of Pittsburgh

00:15:29 - Education after leaving the rehab hospital

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Partial Transcript: So when you went home, when you were discharged from the rehab hospital and you went home, what grade were you in when you first got sick?

Segment Synopsis: McGrath was able to finish her fifth grade year while in the hospital. Once she was released, she went through sixth grade normally, aside from having to rest at lunch. McGrath attended an all girls Catholic high school and had a scholarship that allowed her to take art classes at Carnegie-Mellon University. Her senior year of high school, her father was transferred and McGrath and her family moved to Fort Thomas, Kentucky. She transferred to a co-ed high school in Fort Thomas, Kentucky.

Keywords: Acrylics; Art classes; Catholic schools; Crayons; Degrees; High schools; Hospitals; Lunchtime; Physicians; Professors; Rehabilitation hospitals; Scholarships; Streetcars; Watercolors

Subjects: Carnegie-Mellon University; Childhood; Education; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Families; Fort Thomas (Ky.)

00:20:22 - Undergraduate studies

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Partial Transcript: So at what point did you decide to go to college?

Segment Synopsis: McGrath shares about the value of education in her family and the history of education in her family. McGrath decided to go into medicine while in high school, and had a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati. When her father was transferred and their family had to move, McGrath lost her scholarship. They made arrangements for McGrath to stay with another family and attend Thomas More College. When she switched colleges, she also briefly switched her major. When she switched back to pre-med, she received a scholarship from the Kentucky Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Keywords: Degrees; High schools; Majors; Physicians; Polio; Scholarships; Tuition; Tuitions; Undergraduate studies; VA Hospitals; Veterans Administration (VA)

Subjects: Education; Families; Kentucky. Office of Vocational Rehabilitation; Medicine; Premedical education; Thomas More College; University of Cincinnati; Values

00:25:41 - Applying to and attending the University of Kentucky College of Medicine

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Partial Transcript: And, um, so, the natural endpoint to that is, uh, you plan to go to medical school.

Segment Synopsis: McGrath was accepted to the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, but she was denied a scholarship from the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. She spent a year teaching biology and general science in an all girls Catholic high school. McGrath then was able to apply for loans and attend University of Kentucky College of Medicine the following fall semester. She describes the admissions process and being interviewed by four men; McGrath says she didn't even see a woman there. McGrath then describes her initial feelings when she moved to Lexington, Kentucky and began attending medical school. She describes getting around campus as difficult at first, she struggled to carry her books while using crutches. McGrath shares that there was a lot of work, but over time she missed the social connections of being with her friends who lived in Northern Kentucky.

Keywords: Admissions processes; Catholic schools; Crutches; High schools; Interviews; Loans; Medical schools; Medical students; Parents; Physicians; Scholarships; Teaching positions; Volunteer teaching

Subjects: Children; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Families; Kentucky. Office of Vocational Rehabilitation; Lexington (Ky.); Poliomyelitis; Universities and colleges--Admission; University of Kentucky. College of Medicine

00:33:33 - Clinical clerkship at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine

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Partial Transcript: And so then your, your third year comes along and that's your clerkship.

Segment Synopsis: McGrath describes not receiving special consideration as a woman, which she appreciated. Her handicap did not bother her as she did not pay any attention to it. McGrath shares that she enjoyed her clinical years and had an initial interest in surgery. She recalls that the surgeons she worked with were egomaniacs, whereas the staff and patients in the pediatric ward were more pleasant. She spent some time in psychiatry and volunteered to help lead group therapy sessions. McGrath then described doing a rotation in pediatric cardiology in San Francisco. Most of her time there was spent working at the laboratory level.

Keywords: Academics; Babies; Clerkships; Clinicals; Deliveries; General surgery; Hospital staff; Hospitals; Interns; Medical specialties; Medical students; Obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN); Patients; Pediatricians; Psychiatrists; Surgeons; Surgeries

Subjects: Children; Family medicine; Gynecology; Lexington (Ky.); Medical education; Medical residents; Medicine; Obstetrics; Pediatrics; Physician and patient; Poliomyelitis; Psychiatry; San Francisco (Calif.)

00:40:23 - Residency / Running a clinic in Northern Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: And then you did your internship...

Segment Synopsis: It was in her clerkship that McGrath leaned towards a specialty in pediatric medicine. McGrath completed a rotating internship which allowed her to complete a general medical internship and then three years of pediatric medicine. It was in between her first and second years that she got married. When she finished her residency time, she established a clinic in Northern Kentucky and practiced general pediatric medicine and adolescent medicine. She was asked to return to the division of adolescent medicine part-time, so she transitioned her clinic to another family physician and worked for 16 years at the division of adolescent medicine.

Keywords: Fellowships; Finances; General medicine internships; General pediatrics; Health departments; Managers; Medical services; Northern Kentucky; Nursing staffs; Patients; Pediatric medicine internships; Poverty; Rotating internships; Social workers

Subjects: Adolescent medicine; Medical education; Medical residents; Pediatric clinics; Pittsburgh (Pa.); Women physicians

00:44:41 - Balancing a family and practicing adolescent medicine

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Partial Transcript: So as you started working in adolescent medicine, you were beginning to have a family.

Segment Synopsis: McGrath describes balancing family life with her medical career. She shares that her husband was flexible and they would take turns dropping off and picking up their children. There were a few instances where an older woman would come and spend time with McGrath's children when there was no one else to take care of them. McGrath remembers not having many issues while she worked part-time but as her children got older, and she began working full-time, her children wanted to see her more.

Keywords: Bosses; Childcare; Chores; Husbands; Kitchens; Marriages; Parents; Part-time physicians; Patients; Stereotypes; Teachers; Work schedules

Subjects: Adolescent medicine; Children; Children of physicians; Families; Medicine; Sexism; Women physicians; Work life

00:53:05 - Switching from adolescent medicine to psychiatry / Retirement

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Partial Transcript: But anyhow, let's go ahead and talk about your career a little bit more.

Segment Synopsis: McGrath began having physical complications due to post polio syndrome, but she still wanted to continue to practice medicine. She completed a residency in psychiatry, and established a private practice in adolescent and general psychiatry. When her husband developed head and neck cancer, McGrath retired in order to take care of him.

Keywords: Canes; Head and neck cancer; Hospitals; Husbands; Leg braces; Medical careers; Medical specialties; Polio; Post polio syndrome; Private practices; Residencies; Teachers

Subjects: Adolescent medicine; Cancer; Grandchildren; Health; Medical residents; Medicine; Pediatrics; Postpoliomyelitis syndrome; Psychiatry; Retirement; University of Cincinnati; Women physicians

00:58:58 - Medical career highlights

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Partial Transcript: Well looking back and thinking about your career, what were some of the highlights, that you can think about? That you really, those moments that you think about, uh, that you remember, and consider to be highlights?

Segment Synopsis: McGrath shares moments of her medical career that stand out to her as highlights. She shares one story of treating a little girl for round worms and her parents thinking that she would die. McGrath remembers thinking about the wisdom of people who have lived, and how physicians should listen. McGrath stresses the importance of listening to parents while she practiced pediatrics. There was another instance in medical school where a patient gave McGrath a mason jar of moonshine to thank her for helping him get better. McGrath discusses the contributions she made in adolescent medicine through practice and teaching. She also talked about treating patients as a psychiatrist and helping them function in the world. McGrath shares a story of her time in the rehabilitation hospital when she had polio. Her experience in the rehabilitation hospital helped her to know how to treat patients and how to help ease their suffering.

Keywords: Gifts; Hospitals; Medical clinics; Medical schools; Medical students; Moonshine; Parents; Patients; Polio; Rehabilitation hospitals; Roundworms; Staff

Subjects: Ascariasis; Childhood; Children; Families; Lexington (Ky.); Medical education; Medical residents; Medicine; Pediatrics; Physician and patient; Pittsburgh (Pa.); Poliomyelitis; Psychiatry; Women physicians

01:09:51 - Changes to medical field / Influence of women on culture of medicine

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Partial Transcript: Thinking about medicine when you first started out and what it is today, talk abou--a little bit about some of the changes.

Segment Synopsis: McGrath describes the changes to the medical field and how those who practice medicine today represent a diverse spectrum. McGrath describes the influence that women have had on the culture of medicine. Women, by their example, have shown that you can have a life outside of medicine and part-time physicians and shared-time practice have become more popular. McGrath then shares the influence that medicine has had on her. She emphasizes the confidence she gained from being able to contribute as a physician. Practicing medicine made her more decisive and assured that she made the right decision in pursuing a career in medicine.

Keywords: Academic medicine; Children; Culture; Diversity; Influences; Medical professions; Medical students; Part-time physicians; Physicians; Prejudices; Private practices; Professions; Role models; Shared medical practices; Surgeons; Teachers; Time management

Subjects: Medical education; Medicine; Public health; Sexism; Women physicians; Work life

01:16:57 - Advice to prospective physicians

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Partial Transcript: Dr. McGrath, thinking about students that are considering a, a professional career or a career in medicine today, what are some of your suggestions or ideas?

Segment Synopsis: McGrath shares that a career in medicine is a noble profession but cautions prospective students that they will be disillusioned. She has seen changes in the medical profession that get in the way of helping patients. McGrath stresses the need for flexibility and emphasizes the importance of being able to work and study. She states that the insurance companies have complicated the patient care that physicians are supposed to provide. McGrath also talks about changes to the physician-patient relationship and how it has changed out of necessity.

Keywords: Careers in medicine; Financial considerations; Healthcare; Medical professions; Paperwork; Patient care; Patients; Physicians; Students

Subjects: Children; Insurance companies; Medical education; Medicine; Physician and patients; Private practice