Women Matter at Fairfax Neonatal Associates


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Fairfax Neonatal Associates

By Dr. Jennifer Alexander, Neonatologist


Many women grow up with big dreams; being an entrepreneur, lawyer, engineer, astronaut. For the women of Fairfax Neonatal Associates (FNA), we have fulfilled our dream of becoming a physician, a neonatologist. We strive to provide excellent care day in and out for fragile newborns. We form bonds with our patients and their families. We work to make our NICU the best it can be.

However, we are not only neonatologists. We are wives, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and mentors. We are PTA members, sports moms, and event planners. We are cooks, maids, and drivers. And when we are giving our all to multiple roles, sometimes it’s difficult to find the balance.

Fortunately, at Fairfax Neonatal Associates, we can all relate to these challenges and choose to support each other. We are working women who encourage each other. We give advice and complement each other. We can be open with one another and feel heard. We understand that we are also human, and it’s reasonable to ask for help.

“When women support each other, incredible things happen.” — Lisa Shaw

Our schedule is one that requires both day and night shifts, long hours, some heartbreaking, but mostly rewarding days. Many times, our hours can overlap with kids’ activities and family events. Of course, it can sometimes be devastating to miss other important events that take place outside of work. We understand that we all have similar challenging circumstances; we are hardworking physicians who care deeply for our patients, but also strive to fulfill our family obligations, we fill in for each other when possible. And the appreciation we feel makes us want to return the gratitude.

It is known that social networks play a critical role in professional advancement. Support, in general, is vital to anyone’s success, all genders and ethnicities. Interestingly, research shows that for women, in particular, having a close support network correlates with success in the workplace. According to the Harvard Business Review, women with close inner circles accomplish higher, better-paying positions.

The reason? Women trying to rise into leadership face cultural and systemic hurdles that make it harder for them to advance, such as unconscious bias. The study suggests that a way to overcome some of these hurdles is to form close connections with other women who can share experiences from women who have been there.

Some comments from the women of FNA:

There is no way I could have raised my children without the support of all my colleagues. My relationships with the women in my group, in particular, have completely enhanced my career satisfaction.”
Dr. Margot Ahronovich

Sometimes you are doing a night shift at work and a day shift at home and do other chores in between. This goes for a few days before you find time to sleep. But you just make fun out of it and endure it.”
Dr. Afsaneh Hessamfar

I raised all four of my children from newborns through high school, college, and graduate school while part of FNA. The help, support, and wise counsel that our women partners have given me have allowed me to fulfill my responsibilities as a mom and Neonatologist, giving care to both my family and patients. Without the caring and empathy of other women going through the same joys and stresses, I would never have been able to navigate the journey.”
Dr. Fern Litman Mazo

I am still part of FNA today because one of my partners went above and beyond to help me through a very difficult time. She is truly my guardian angel.”
Dr. Fegegta Workie


The neonatologists, pediatric hospitalists, and nurse practitioners of Fairfax Neonatal Associates work at Inova L. J. Murphy Children’s Hospital, Inova Fair Oaks Hospital, and Inova Loudoun Hospital as an independent medical group devoted exclusively to provide the best possible care for critically ill newborns in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and needed support to their parents and families.

The Neonatologists and pediatric subspecialists of Fairfax Neonatal Associates are also a part of the continuum of care at the Inova L. J. Murphy Children’s Hospital Fetal Care Center, where women who are at risk or suspected of carrying a baby with a fetal concern have access to maternal and pediatric specialists and surgeons conveniently on one medical campus. Learn more here.

Learn more about Dr. Jennifer Alexander, this post’s author here, and all of Fairfax Neonatal Associates’ providers here.



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