As Medical Director and a founding member of Summus, a cutting-edge and uniquely personalized healthcare service, Dr. Jennifer Kherani is developing a global network of medical professionals who are changing the game for both physicians and patients. And if you think that’s rad, then you haven’t seen her tennis serve. Check out some of the fabulous insight she recently shared with Fairygodboss — including her #1 career tip! — below!
Fairygodboss of the Week: Dr. Jennifer Kherani
Medical Director of Summus
New York, NY
FGB: Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
JK: My road has been a bit sinuous and punctuated with eclectic destinations. I began in sales, immediately realized I had taken a wrong turn and landed myself a waitressing job in the middle of Times Square. From there, I somehow ended up in Guatemala volunteering with a community outreach group, which included a medical team. It was during that trip that I genuinely began to develop a love of medicine.
I returned home, went back to school to complete my pre-medical requirements and began working in a cardiac physiology research lab, which is where I met my husband. That was followed by a near-decade long endeavor of long hours and humbling experiences in both medical school and residency. I came out the other end an Emergency Medicine physician and educator.
I was mom by day and ER doctor by night when my husband and a college friend of his introduced an idea; a solution that would transform the healthcare experience for patients and doctors alike. Summus was born and I discovered my next mission and new passion. We connect families all over the world to leading physicians in the US to help them understand their diagnoses and treatment options, manage ongoing health issues, and discover cutting-edge insights on preventative care. Our transparent marketplace brings together the best minds in medicine and the people who need to access their talents and wisdom conveniently and quickly.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
JK: Personal evolution. I have been physically and mentally taxed at many times throughout my career. Finding my way to and through medical school and residency has had many peaks and valleys. Likewise, finding my way to becoming a founding member of Summus has been an incredible journey. I haven’t always done it perfectly, but I can honestly say that I have learned from every single one of those highs and lows. I’ve come out the other side stronger and a bit wiser. It is the upside of aging. That is something I can be proud of and aspire to continue achieving.
FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
JK: Balancing my personal life as a mother and my professional life has been the most difficult challenge of my life. My entire personal definition and life structure changed when I had my sons. Up until that moment, my career had been my constant focus. My colleagues had known only that professional version of me. Maintaining the respect of my peers, advancing my career and being truly present for my children was the most difficult goal I had ever set forth on. I don’t think there is any way to truly have it all but we’ve reached a happy, successful and manageable balance (for now!). I sincerely look forward to growing my career while guiding my children as they become more independent and engaged in their own journeys. It is an ever-changing balancing act.
FGB: Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
JK: My mom, without a doubt. She built her company from nothing to a successful national presence having no formal education to do so. She has been my role model since before I can remember and built my foundation with life lessons that have permeated every personal and professional experience I’ve had. She taught me strength, work ethic, perseverance and positivity…no matter what the circumstance. I still remember the mantra she recited repeatedly to my brother and me: “Be the task big or small, do it well or not at all.” That has been a constant in my mind whether I was taking out the trash, learning to intubate or building a company from the ground up. I admire her greatly.
FGB: What do you do when you're not working?
JK: I am completely dedicated to time with my family. We have a 5 and 3 year old and I love seeing the world through their eyes and exploring it with them. It is hands down my favorite thing to do when I’m not working. I also love running, cooking, and sinking into a great book (next to the ocean whenever possible). I will never complain about lunch or a quick trip to the spa with my girlfriends and I have just discovered tennis. I’m mildly obsessed and love stealing every moment I can to get out on the court!
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
JK: Marie Curie. Despite the fact that she lived in a time which was anything but supportive of professional women, she was a quiet storm. Biographers describe her as dignified and unassuming, yet her spirit was obviously tenacious. She was a wife, professional partner to her husband, mother and scientist all in one and had an adventurous spirit that drove her to accomplish the seemingly impossible. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person to win the prestigious prize in two different fields. She and her husband built the foundation for X-ray technology and through this endeavor she transformed medical diagnoses for the injured during WWI.
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
JK: I have to admit, I don’t sing often, but it’s always fun to belt out Fleetwood Mac ‘Dreams’ with a few great friends!
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
JK: "Pride and Prejudice."
FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
"War and Peace." I admit, it probably seems cliché after the countless infusions into popular culture Tolstoy’s masterpiece has achieved. I have a varied taste in reading experiences (my iBooks library ranges from 'The Kitchen House' to 'Shantaram' to 'Killing Lincoln'). I’ve not yet read "War and Peace" cover to cover but it has been on my list for some time. I would imagine my presence on that island would finally afford me some time to dig in!
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
JK: Dresses..of all kinds and for all occasions from beach cover up to gala. If I won, I would donate the vast majority and split it between improving access to education and to medical research. However, I do have to admit that I would portion off enough for a home on the water. I would have no complaints about waking up to the ocean every morning!!
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
JK: Always set lofty goals for yourself and be 200% in, but remember to be flexible. Keep yourself open to new opportunities. Handle constructive criticism in a way that allows you to grow both personally and professionally — this will strengthen you. Also remember to seek out great mentors whenever possible. They are the best source of guidance, wisdom and inspiration and can help to expertly steer you as well as advance and transform your career.
FGB: Why do you love where you work?
There are so many reasons I love Summus. It is a passion and a labor of love to everyone there and that’s palpable the moment you walk in. We have a mission to transform the healthcare experience for patients and doctors alike. I am learning every single day and I’m doing so from my colleagues in the office, from our members and from the best and brightest doctors in the world. Our physician network spans every field of medicine and includes more than 4,000 exceptional doctors from the most prestigious academic medical institutions in the country. I have occasion to discuss a variety of diagnoses and medical questions with them and enable them to share their insights – based upon years of dedicated study and research – with our members. Our members are motivated, inquisitive and are forever challenging my understanding of life, disease and its cures and remedies. I’m building something I believe in alongside intelligent and motivated people who feel more like a family than coworkers.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women. So each week, we celebrate a woman who makes a difference in other women’s careers. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate and thank her by nominating her here.