New Perspectives

New Perspectives

A Young Mom’s DABR Triumph

By Mallory Carson Glenn, PhD, DABR®, MOM*


Mallory Carson Glenn, PhD

Several years of graduate study, two years of residency, and three board exams. These are the hurdles we medical physicists must overcome to earn the title of DABR, our proof of clinical competency and ability to provide quality in patient care. Many would say that the long course of study is decorated with our own blood, sweat, and tears, but we must pause to recognize its greater impact around us, too.

Yes, even for me there were many tears shed in this process – not just mine, but also that of my 9-month-old son. It’s hard enough being a working physicist studying for exams. It’s also hard enough being a new parent. Put the two together and you’re juggling torches while walking a tightrope, a delicate balancing act and colossal test of determination.

My journey toward ABR certification began long before my son’s arrival, and I had been well acquainted with intense studying as a student. But as the Part 3 exam approached and motherhood set in, early mornings and late nights became my allies – my only moments of uninterrupted quiet. I often had to sacrifice precious quality time with my budding family. Fortunately, my husband understood and took over with boundless patience when I needed these precious moments to pore over task group reports. I had to trust in the process with my two most supportive cheerleaders at my side.

I was a bit nervous going into the oral exam, as many naturally are. But one thing I didn’t need to worry about was my son. I appreciate that the ABR stands committed to accommodating new mothers during the exams. The additional break time (despite there never being “breaks” in parenting) afforded me the precious ounces of milk and headspace I needed to focus on my goal. Because of these accommodations, my exam experience was a positive one.

Then came the long-awaited reward – DABR!

Achieving ABR certification was an incredible honor and relief. I can now confidently say I am the qualified safety champion I aspired to become! This accomplishment wasn’t just about adding letters to my name; it was a testament to my unwavering resolve and the support of my family. These letters write the story of a young mom who refused to let her goal go by the wayside – the goal of improving patient care every day. Because ultimately, this is our call as medical physicists.

Personally, my certification is a reminder that, as a mother, I can still aim high and make a difference in the lives of cancer patients, one step (and one diaper change) at a time. Today I feel an overwhelming sense of pride, not just for myself, but for every parent who dares to push the field forward while nurturing the next generation.

May our mission always guide us!

*self-designated title

Dr. Mallory Glenn is an assistant professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, where she serves as a medical physicist at the IROC Houston Quality Assurance Center. Dr. Glenn takes pride in her many professional roles, including research scientist and mentor, as she seeks to advance radiation therapy quality improvements and guide the next generation of medical physicists. Beyond her career, she cherishes her role as a new mother, finding inspiration in her work’s impact on families facing cancer. You can follow her on X: @mallorycglenn.

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