HealthEd: Exceptional Women in Medicine: Dr. Cindi Payne

Exceptional Women in Medicine: Dr. Cindi Payne

Osmosis Team
Published on Sep 14, 2023. Updated on Sep 15, 2023.

September is Women in Medicine Month, so we’re celebrating some of the fantastic physicians who write, review, and edit content for Osmosis. Today, let’s take some time and get to know Osmosis Clinical Content Editor in Surgery, Cindi Payne, MD!

What inspired you to want to work in medicine? 

My mom had cancer when I was five years old. Although my parents (understandably) didn’t tell me much of what was happening, I subconsciously think this was the inspiration. I wanted to become a doctor at the age of seven and never looked back!

What are the most and least satisfying aspects of your work? 

The most satisfying aspect is the patients. As a surgeon specifically, I’m asking someone to trust me with a knife while they’re asleep and asking them to believe I’ll make them better when they wake up. I don’t take that privilege lightly; seeing the results post-operatively makes it all worth it. 

The least satisfying aspects are dealing with a lot of the bureaucracy and politics of the healthcare industry. Oftentimes, this stands in the way of patient care. It’s also very hard to give bad news to patients, and this never gets easier.

What does work/life balance look like for you as a medical professional? 

I’ve chosen a career in rural surgery, so I’m the only surgeon in a small town. This means my schedule is quite flexible. I’m able to be home almost every night for dinner and can arrange my schedule to be available for important events in my children's lives. For me, family time is the most important, and I try to put this first as much as I can. 

What experiences have contributed to your success? What would you have done differently? 

My family support has contributed the most. My parents would cook me meals and freeze them when I was in medical school and residency so I could heat them up on busy days and send me care packages quite often. I had some wonderful mentors along the way. The most influential experience was the year I spent in Montana doing a fellowship in rural surgery and frontier medicine. That experience opened my eyes to “small-town medicine” and inspired my career path. 

As far as what I would have done differently, I might have taken some time off between college and medical school. You end up committing a lot of your young adult life to schooling and training, and you’ll never be 22 again.

What advice would you give to your past self to prepare for working in medicine? 

I would tell myself to have grace with myself as well as with my patients and coworkers. Working in medicine is not easy. You see the highest of highs and, in the next breath, can see the lowest of lows. I would also tell myself to allow myself to feel all the emotions. It can be easy to just go through the (e)motions and forget the humans you’re caring for and that they all have a story and a family. While maintaining a more callous outlook can be a helpful coping mechanism, it takes away from the human aspect of medicine.

About Cindi Payne

Cindi Payne, MD, is a Clinical Content Editor at Osmosis and a surgeon, practicing rural general surgery for 4 years. She did her training in New York City and spent a year in Montana getting extra training in rural surgery. Outside of Osmosis, she provides general surgical care to a small community. She lives with her husband and their three boys in northern Michigan, where she owns and operates a U-pick blueberry farm.

Big thanks to Cindi for sharing her story with us! Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn today to read about more exceptional women in medicine this month!