• Dr. Miranda Whitmer

    Dr. Miranda Whitmer

    Dermatologist and Dermatologic Surgeon, Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery

    What does it mean to be Fierce?
    To me, the word fierce means relentless, refusing to compromise or give up on a goal. To be fierce is to have passion for life, to persist in the face of adversity. I approach my life with intensity – a fierce love for my family, my community and my patients.

    What does success, achievement and accomplishment mean to you?
    The word success is often associated with making money or attaining power, but I believe real success is being true to one’s self. At the end of the day, I want to look back and know that I made a difference. I want to have a positive impact on my patient’s health, my student’s thirst for knowledge and my family’s want for love. If at the end of the day, I have accomplished these tasks, then that is success.

    What motivates you in the morning?
    Besides a nice hot cappuccino, my children are my biggest motivation. I want them to see what you can accomplish with hard work and dedication. I want them to be proud of me as a mother who loves them endlessly and as a person who has dedicated herself to taking care of other people. I want them to see me as someone who doesn’t back down from fight.

    What or who is inspiring you right now? Why?
    My eleven-year-old daughter Kaylie. What an amazing time to be a young woman! My daughter approaches everyday as if there are no limitations to what she might accomplish. She takes risks that I would never have dreamt of at her age. I’m amazed at her thirst for knowledge, her ignorance to any limitations in our society on a woman’s success and her tenacity in defending her friends. I hope I can grow up to be like her!

    What was the best decision you’ve made? What’s the worst?
    My best decision comes down to believing in myself. My future wasn’t certain when I was in high school. I could have chosen to be safe, stay in my hometown, get a job as a waitress, go to the junior college and do what everyone expected of me. I believed in myself, knowing that I had much more to offer this world. When I moved away for college, I left all of that self-doubt behind with nothing more than a determination to prove the naysayers wrong and a desire in my heart to be a physician. I moved to another state where I knew no one, attended a top university, worked my way through school and never gave up on that dream. Sometimes being stubborn is an asset. My worst decision was allowing my daughter to convince me to try a jelly bean called ‘Vomit.” Yes, it is as disgusting as it sounds, and it looks terrible when you furiously spit it out on a soccer field. If anyone ever asks you to play Beanboozled and take a chance on potentially getting a Vomit jellybean, run!

    What has been your biggest obstacle and how have you overcome it?
    I came from very modest beginnings. For complex reasons, I was estranged from my family for my senior year of high school and had to fend for myself. All of my potential role models failed me. Instead of encouragement, I was told to accept my circumstances and try to conform. With one small duffel bag of clothes to my name and the generosity of friends, I was able to complete my high school studies. Seeking some clarity and maybe a bit of confirmation that I could succeed, I met with my school guidance counselor. Instead of recognizing my abilities and determination, he explained to me, “People like you don’t get to go to fancy colleges, much less medical school.” Two months later, I stapled my Emory University acceptance letter to his door.

    How do you address negativity in your life and in business?
    I try to approach everything with a positive attitude. In fact, I’m accused of being “a morning person” all the time. If you want a good laugh, just ask my husband how much of a morning person I am! What my patients don’t realize is that I get up early in the morning to work my demons out before I can even think about smiling. It’s important to me to give my patients the best experience possible. Who wants to see a grumpy doctor anyway? My motto is: Fake it until you make it. I approach every patient with a smile and an upbeat attitude. In healthcare, patients are often scared and confused, sometimes even angry. Seeing a smiling face who listens (albeit after a truckload of caffeine) goes a long way.

    Is there a particular instance or occurrence that you credit for building your confidence and self-esteem?
    Going to a top university, I found myself surrounded with women who had everything they ever wanted – money, family stability, encouraging role models and the knowledge that they could do anything or go anywhere they wanted. Here I was defying the odds as a poor girl with no family support trying to make it on her own and yet I was the one my classmates sought for encouragement and advice. Despite our vastly different backgrounds, I realized that I deserved to be there at Emory as much as they did. For the first time in my life, I felt valuable and it was exhilarating!

    How do you empower other women?
    My unique childhood has made it really easy to relate to women regardless of their backgrounds. As a teacher, I am able to help young professional women to tackle their fears of inferiority in a male dominated world head on. I teach them to not be afraid to be the smartest person in the room. Be confident and don’t back down when you’re right. I love to share my passion for medicine with them and inspire them to be their best selves.

    What change do you want to see in your industry?
    I would love to see more awareness of the dangers of sun exposure and the use of tanning beds. It astounds me that dermatologists haven’t taken a more vocal stance on tanning beds. People actually pay to cook themselves! An orange president with eye goggle marks is not a healthy president. We need to stand up and tell people what they are doing to their skin and stop being afraid to hurt people’s feelings. Get out of the tanning bed and put some sunscreen on because skin cancer sucks!

    Do you have any advice for young women as they try to achieve their goals?
    Go for it! Believe in yourself and be confident in what you do. Trust your gut and never give up on your dreams. If someone isn’t supporting you, move on. You are your biggest cheerleader. Let’s start a new movement. How about #Mefirst?!

    What do you want to be remembered for?
    First of all, I want my husband and children to be able to look back and say that I was a loving wife and mother. Beyond that, I hope that patients will remember me as a caring physician, as someone who listened and helped them to the best of my abilities, as someone who wasn’t afraid to drop an f-bomb when necessary.

    How do you defy the current stereotypes, stigmas and double standards that women have today?
    I do not believe that it does women any good to concentrate on the stigmas, stereotypes and double standards that I admit women have today. I refuse to be a victim, and you should too. That glass ceiling people try to place on you defines them and not you. I shattered that and am already three floors higher. Come on up and join me, because it feels great!