Paging Dr. Mom – Juggling Motherhood & Horse Shows

As a new mom, I’m already learning the delicate balance you need to practice between your professional life and your home life. Last Fall I had the privilege of speaking with two women who seem to have figured it out, as they’ve grown successful medical careers while supporting their horse-crazy children.

Paging Dr. Mom

Two Moms Juggle Full-Time Jobs and Busy Horse Show Schedules

Being a doctor is a full-time job. It involves devoting your life to preserving the health and well-being of those around you. In the same respect, being a mother is a full-time job, as you devote your life to raising a child and helping him or her discover their own path.

Put the two together and you have Mom, MD, someone who has learned how to juggle a high-demand career with the high-demand home life of being a mother. Not only is life busy at the hospital, and at home, but add in the hustle and bustle of a weekend at the horse show and you might get a taste of what life is like for Kelly Stille, PsyD., and Susan Urba, MD. Both women are doctors at the top of their respective fields and mothers of horse show kids competing at the highest level of competition.


Dr. Susan Urba grew up in Chicago, far from the horse show world, and attended medical school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While in medical school, one of her rotations involved working with cancer patients. That experience inspired her to continue her study of medical oncology. “It’s an exciting field that looks into treatments for cancer, but you also get to look at other issues that cancer patients have, such as the need for emotional support and other related illnesses. It’s a broad spectrum,” she explains.

Dr. Urba started doing a lot of clinical studies with esophageal cancer, but she has since moved onto developing more of a specialty with palliative care. Palliative care emphasizes pain and symptom management for cancer patients and, in some cases, it involves end-of-life care.

At the University of Michigan, Dr. Urba has helped develop a program called the Symptom Management and Supportive Care Program within the Cancer Center. She works with cancer patients who have particularly difficult-to-manage symptoms or who struggle with serious decisions such as when it might be in the patient’s best interest to discontinue treatment that’s resulting in a poor quality of life.


You can say that Dr. Stille is continuing the family business; she grew up with a mother who was a clinical psychologist.

“While growing up, I was exposed to psychology by seeing my mom’s testing materials and learning how to conceptualize cases,” Dr. Stille explains.

She also grew up showing horses, so she’s well aware of the demands it takes to be successful in the show pen. Because of her connections on the Paint Horse circuit, Dr. Stille attended college at Texas Christian University and then got her Masters and Doctorate in clinical psychology.

During that time, she also married her husband and had three children, all while she was doing internships and her dissertation.

She was still able to finish her degrees, including a postdoctorate in psycho-pharmacology while balancing raising three boys, two of which are twins Ryan and Austin Stille. For five years she has been running the neuropsychology program at John Peter Smith Hospital in the Level One Trauma Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Recently, Dr. Stille has become more involved in sports concussion research, which combines her interest in studying the human brain with her lifelong passion for horses. “Concussion is actually the fourth or fifth highest rate of traumatic brain injury for girls between the ages of 9-15,” she says. “It’s not widely publicized, so that’s been my goal, as of late, to increase awareness.”

Read more from the November/December 2014 issue of The Equine Chronicle.

Paging Dr. Mom


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