The doctor’s closet was a mess. Her friends conspired to have a Netflix show organize it for her.
Whitney Browning, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital, is featured on the Netflix show "Getting Organized with the Home Edit" thanks to her sneaky friendsOctober 2, 2020
Whitney Browning, center rear, surrounded by her friends and some of the crew from the Netflix series “Getting Organized with the Home Edit.” Photos courtesy Whitney Browning. (Photo taken last year during production and before social distancing.)
Whitney Browning, MD, knew her friends – aka the “female doctor tribe” at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt – had a surprise for her, but she was clueless as to what that could be.
Little did she know that her walk-in closet, the only storage space inside her circa 1930s Nashville home, had set in motion a series of events that would thrust Browning into the national spotlight and put her in the same 40-minute television episode as Nashville native and award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon.
Female colleagues at Children’s Hospital knew the “dirty” little secret of her closet – it didn’t match her tidy, organized home, and in fact, had become what Browning called, “a catch-all” and “the junk drawer” of her house. Knowing how much time she dedicates to caring for children at the hospital, her friends wanted to do something to support her. They also knew she was an avid follower on Instagram of expert home organizers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, of Nashville, who own the company The Home Edit.
Secretly filming inside her house and inside her closet one day when Browning wasn’t home, the tribe nominated Browning to be on the new Netflix show, Getting Organized with the Home Edit. The eight episodes of the show follow hosts Shearer and Teplin as they organize home spaces of various people, some celebrities, some not.
“I could tell something was going on. But even then, I didn’t know who or what.”
The show selected Browning’s closet as the first one that Shearer and Teplin would reorganize and on the first episode of the series, viewers can see the hosts surprise Browning with her new closet. The organizing duo start the episode in the Nashville home of Reese Witherspoon, who is also an executive producer on the show, before moving on to Browning’s house.
“I could tell something was going on. But even then, I didn’t know who or what,” Browning said.
Browning, associate residency director for the Pediatric Residency Program, and assistant professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Hospital Medicine, joined the faculty in 2009, and has been at Children’s Hospital since her residency in 2005. In those years she has built what she calls a tremendous support system.
“The support that I have from female colleagues — mentors, advisors, leaders and friends — those relationships are some of my most valued at Vanderbilt. It’s important to support each other,” she said.
“We all have different stories, but experience some of the same things. These relationships have been really impactful in my personal life, but also as a pediatrician. I have amazing male colleagues and mentors and I appreciate them just as much, but there is something different about a group of women supporting each other.”
Browning is a University of Kentucky graduate, so naturally her closet has a blue zone for her favorite Kentucky gear.
In the episode, as Browning unsuspectingly opens the door to see Shearer and Teplin, she exclaims, “Stop it!”.
The hosts announce, “We’re here to do your closet,” to which Browning promptly responds, chuckling, “Oh my goodness – that’s a big job!”
Over the course of 24 hours, Browning leaves her house to let the organizing begin in a closet that is full of items without apparent organizing rhyme or reason. She even agrees to part with some of her more well-loved belongings.
When she returns, everything has a place or zones in her closet. Browning is a University of Kentucky graduate, so naturally her closet has a blue zone for her favorite Kentucky gear.
She also has a “doctor” section for all her hospital gear; a vanity with jewelry and a mirror; her scarves are turned into a pile of “donut scarves” and she has a new dressing area.
The new closet isn’t what she loved most about the experience — her favorite part is the demonstration of women supporting women.
What’s her favorite part of her new closet?
“The expected answer would probably be the Kentucky blue zone, but I love the organization of the purses, shoes and stuff that didn’t have a home before. It makes it easier for everything to have its own place.”
And she promises that she will maintain the closet in its newly organized state.
But, she says, the new closet isn’t what she loved most about the experience — her favorite part is the demonstration of women supporting women.
“It’s so empowering when you see a bunch of professional women working to make children’s lives better and supporting each other while doing it,” she said. She even got choked up on the show over the support from her colleagues.
She also pointed out that the production crew for the show was nearly all women which made the experience even more powerful.
And of course, everyone wants to know, what was it like to share an episode with Reese Witherspoon?
“I didn’t get to meet her. But it was really exciting. I love that she is from Nashville and I’ve loved her movies for a long time.”
While Browning didn’t get to meet Witherspoon, she said, when she was an intern, she got to work with Witherspoon’s mom, “Ms. Betty,” who was a nurse in the newborn nursery at Vanderbilt at the time.