#MakingTime: A Day in the Life of a New York Craniofacial Plastic Surgeon With Young Kids

Dr. Rachel A. Ruotolo

Photo courtesy of Dr. Rachel A. Ruotolo

April 19, 2024 at 4:26PM UTC

Women can do anything — but not everything. As the largest online career community for women, we at Fairygodboss realize that balance is a myth, and that picking what to prioritize when everything feels important on a day-to-day basis isn't always easy. In the #MakingTime series, women share with us how, for one day, they chose to spend their most precious resource: time.


Who: Dr. Rachel A. Ruotolo

What: A board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in pediatric craniofacial surgery as well as facial trauma in children and adults. She is a partner at Long Island Plastic Surgical Group, the largest and longest-running private plastic surgery practice in the United States.

Where: Greater Long Island Area


4 a.m.

My day typically begins well before dawn and often lasts until long after the sun has set. I keep a strict daily schedule because my days are packed from beginning to end, and I like to know exactly what I’m doing and when. I wake at 4 a.m. and get dressed and ready for the day. I look through my planner to see what surgeries I have scheduled (though last-minute surgeries are a daily occurrence in my world), check my emails to see what may have come in overnight, prepare my Instagram and Facebook daily posts, pack my work bag to make sure I have everything I’ll need for the day, and begin mentally preparing for the day ahead.

5 a.m.

My children wake around 5, and we spend time together over the next hour or so while I’m preparing for the day. I’m constantly multitasking — it’s not unusual for me to be getting the kids something to eat while taking a call about an incoming trauma case. These moments with my children are very special to me. 

As a working mother, I can tell you that while it’s definitely possible to have both a fulfilling career and a beautiful personal life, your time won’t always be split 50/50. I don’t make it to every school play or get to tuck my kids in every night, and that’s difficult for me sometimes. But even though my kids are small, they understand that mommy’s job is to help people, so I can’t always be there every moment of the day.

6 a.m.

I typically leave my home around 6 a.m. and am taking calls from patients and my team on the way into the office or hospital. I specialize in craniofacial conditions and trauma in adults as well as children. When a case involves a child, it means staying in close contact with parents to answer questions or calm whatever concerns they may have.

Dr. Rachel A. Ruotolo
Dr. Rachel A. Ruotolo

7 a.m.

Once I arrive at the office around 7 a.m., it’s a nonstop day of operations, meeting with and diagnosing new patients, making hospital rounds to check on my post-operative patients, taking phone calls from patients and their parents to check in and answer questions, consulting with colleagues on various cases, and constantly running from place to place to take care of whatever needs to be done. In a typical week, I’ll perform between six to 20 surgeries and see up to 100 patients in the office. No two days are alike. 

12 p.m.

I try to eat healthy food that helps me stay energized.  I’m not a meal eater....I’m a grazer....eating little snacks or bites of food throughout the day. Most of my eating takes place in my car when I’m en route to my office or another hospital. So needless to say, it needs to be portable and not require heating, cooling, or utensils! 

During my day at work, I’m also managing my household from the office; I have to make sure that my kids get where they need to be that day, household issues are addressed, that the bills are paid, etc. I’m often asked, “How do you do it all?” My answer always is: love what you do and it will never feel like work, and have a reliable and organized support system (at home and work) with people who share your vision.

5 p.m. 

Trauma cases often come up unexpectedly, and after a busy day of seeing patients in the office, I am often called into the hospital after a car accident, sports injury, or assault. Facial fractures must be fixed in a timely manner. Every fracture is different, it’s like putting a puzzle together. I love the field of plastic surgery because of how challenging it is. I operate on patients of all ages, on all parts of the body, and not only do I have to diagnose the problem and execute the repair itself, but I have to work meticulously to minimize scar tissue and strive to leave the patient looking like I was never there. It’s a challenging job, but it’s that challenge that drives me and keeps me going at this pace.

9 p.m.

When I’ve wrapped my final surgery of the day, I check in with my team to make sure that nothing is outstanding and to get a sense of what I have scheduled for the coming day. I typically get home around 10 or 11 p.m. I try my best to fit in a workout. 

Looking back on where the day went, I often find myself wondering how I managed to do it all. For me, the keys are a well-organized schedule, a great team to lean on, and as many hours in the day as I can get. My life can sometimes be exhausting, but my drive has always been to help others, and that’s simply not something that revolves around the typical 9-to-5.


Interested in contributing to Fairygodboss' #MakingTime series? Email [email protected] with "#MakingTime" in the subject line.

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