A friend's tragic situation put Dr. Tracy Stevens onto the road of entering a field dominated by men.
Stevens, a cardiologist, began her career in physical therapy after a friend was left paralyzed.
"One of my girlfriends on the cheerleading squad had stopped to help an accident and when she got back in the car, a drunk driver came over and rear-ended her and her date and so she was paraplegic," Stevens recalled "At that age, what an experience, the emotions, the not knowing her outcome, and she's done fabulous. She's been such a motivating person."
As a physical therapist , the Kansas City native helped heart patients. She decided she wanted to return to school to become a cardiologist.
"I love what I do because I see results. And when we talk about cardiovascular disease in our country, it's our No. 1 health threat," she said.
She has taken her interest in helping people and turned into a successful career as medical director at the St. Luke's Muriel I. Kauffman Women's Heart Center.
She credits her parents with fostering her passion and dedication.
"For as long as I can remember, I've been driven and I think it's a reflection of how my parents raised me in that you need to give back to society. You're fortunate, you've got your health and you've got the support. Why not be the best you can be?" she said.
In order for her to be the best she can be, she has received a lot of help and support from her husband, Brian. He has been a stay-at-home dad with the couple's two sons.
"He has been home with the boys, stay-at-home full-time and in that era, that was in '95, a lot of men weren't doing that," she recalled.
In her younger years, she made personal sacrifices in order to have success in her professional life.
"I delayed later getting married and having children so I was pretty headstrong with my goals and just having the privilege of having such a supportive family and friends and colleagues," she said.
Even with the help and support, balancing work life and home life is tough, Stevens said. She said that challenge likely is behind why just 20 percent of cardiologists are women.
She said she got a call once at 2 a.m. from the ER about someone coming in having a heart attack.
"I hung up the phone and let out the biggest sigh and thought, 'It's 2 in the morning.' And my husband rolled over and said, 'That person doesn't want to be there either,'" she recalled.
She persevered and now she encourages other women wanting to enter the career to do so as well. She said you can balance a demanding career and a busy home life.
"Don't sell yourself short, be dedicated and work your tail off. The hard work is great because it brings results," she said.
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Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:45 AM EDT2014-07-30 11:45:17 GMT
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