Mom to See in the 843: Dr. Rinn Puts The ‘Care’ Back In Health Care

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Being a parent requires patience and understanding in order to tend to the needs of your children and family. This skill set translates well into the medical profession, where patients often need time and understanding in order to tend to their specific health care requirements. Both roles are important in our society since they impact the well-being of so many people. As a doctor and a mom, Dr. Andrea Rinn, D.O., is able to fulfill both of these roles with dedication and composure and is truly a Mom to See in the 843.

Dr. Andrea Rinn specializes in sleep disorders at MUSC.

Originally from Huntsville, Alabama, she attended Huntingdon College for her undergraduate education, then went to Des Moines University in Iowa for medical school, and on to Wake Forest University in North Carolina for her residency and fellowship. She met her husband in residency at Wake Forest Hospital and the two were married in 2003. 

Dr. Rinn has worked at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston for six years and she is currently an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division. She treats all sleep disorders, with a focus on insomnia, sleep apnea, and parasomnias.

As a patient of Dr. Rinn for the past three years, I am continually impressed with her professionalism and relatability. She can talk about travel and our favorite bands and easily transition into ways we can treat my sleep disorder. I was diagnosed with narcolepsy when I was eight years old, so managing sleep and feeling tired have always been part of my life. I have had many wonderful doctors, but I appreciate Dr. Rinn because she is a woman — and beyond the sleep studies and the medicine, she gets it. When one thing doesn’t work (or I resist certain treatments), she doesn’t judge or talk condescendingly but looks for another approach and offers suggestions that are tailored to my specific condition. I know she takes time with each of her patients and treating people’s individual symptoms — instead of a one-size-fits-all mentality — making her an asset to the medical profession.

I am often amazed at how she finds the time to be so devoted to her job and her family, especially since I can barely find the time to work from home as a part-time freelancer and take care of my kids.   

But Dr. Rinn knows the reality of juggling a career and being there for her two children — a 12-year-old son who goes to Mason Prep and a 10-year-old daughter who attends Sullivan’s Island Elementary School — and she admits that she’s always working on finding balance. “I really enjoy taking care of people and getting to know my patients,” she said. “The main challenge for me is the balance.”

Dr. Rinn, at right, is seen with her husband and two children.

Get to know more about Dr. Rinn, as she offers advice and shares about her life:

When did you know you wanted to be a doctor? 

Before I started elementary school, I would tell my parents that I wanted to be a doctor. When I was in preschool, I told my teacher that I wanted to be a doctor and she told me that girls don’t become doctors. My mother, who was fairly soft-spoken, would later have a discussion with the teacher — who never mentioned that again. It was the 70s in the Deep South, after all.

What is a typical day like for you (between work and home life)?

It is busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have the usual frenetic morning trying to get everyone through the door with shoes on and teeth brushed. I like to drive my kids to school because I enjoy that time with them. Then off to work and later driving the kids to various activities, depending on the day of the week.

Do you have any thoughts about the number of women in the health care profession? Do you think there are more hurdles for women seeking advanced medical degrees (because of time and family obligations)?

More and more women are joining the medical profession. I do think women tend to have a lot of responsibilities with home life. I often reflect on the traditional family model from the fifties and think how lucky those men were to come home to a clean house and dinner on the table after a long day. 

Any advice you would give to moms juggling a career and raising children?

I would say try to enjoy your time with your kids. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day and forget about spending some quality time with your family. 

As an expert in sleep disorders, do you have any recommendations or guidelines for parents?

The main cause of daytime sleepiness in our society is not enough sleep. Adults need 7-9 hours a night and kids need more, depending on their age. Most elementary school kids need around 10 hours to get an adequate amount of sleep. Sleep issues can affect mood, safety, productivity, grades, relationships and can even contribute to hyperactivity in children. Sleep is so important and sleep disorders are very common. If you are having issues sleeping or if you are sleepy during the day, please discuss this with your physician. We can often help. 

What other hobbies do you enjoy in your free time? What are some things you like to do as a family in Charleston?

I like to ride my bike and shop for antiques. We like “unplugged” family game night and movie night.

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