The Mrs. The Mommy. The M.D.: So What If We Want It All?...
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Friday, June 17, 2011

So What If We Want It All?...

In an editorial written for the New York Times entitled "Don't Quit This Day Job", a mother of four and full-time anesthesiologist discusses if the choice to work as a part time physician should be acceptable when we are not only in the midst of a healthcare crisis and physician shortage, but also because doctor's are supposed to be committed to the well being of their patients above all.

You can read the article for yourself, but the last few paragraphs were the most thought provoking to me:
"Students who aspire to go to medical school should think about the consequences if they decide to work part time or leave clinical medicine. It’s fair to ask them — women especially — to consider the conflicting demands that medicine and parenthood make before they accept (and deny to others) sought-after positions in medical school and residency. They must understand that medical education is a privilege, not an entitlement, and it confers a real moral obligation to serve...

You can’t have it all. I never took cupcakes to my children’s homerooms or drove carpool, but I read a lot of bedtime stories and made it to soccer games and school plays. I’ve ridden roller coasters with my son, danced at my oldest daughter’s wedding and rocked my first grandson to sleep. Along the way, I’ve worked full days and many nights, and brought a lot of very sick patients through long, difficult operations.

Patients need doctors to take care of them. Medicine shouldn’t be a part-time interest to be set aside if it becomes inconvenient; it deserves to be a life’s work."
Interesting, huh?

I know that my medical education is a privilege - this is the girl that got 15 rejections the first time around. And I, by no means, feel that a medical education is an "entitlement", but I don't think it is unreasonable for a woman to "have it all" according to what she decides that is. Yes, many mothers in the medical field choose to work part time, but I do not think that it is a reflection of their commitment, or lack there of, to the medical field and their patients. Male physicians may work on average more hours per week than females, but is that necessarily a good thing? Let's follow them home. How are their marriages? How are their relationships with their children? (Not to say that there aren't good husbands and fathers who are full time doctors, but this surgeon's kid is just curious about getting the whole story.)

Regardless of who you are and what your profession is, when you are happy, you do the best job you possibly can. I have told many people that ask me about specialties I'm interested in that I want more children eventually, I want to be "room mom", drive carpools to field trips, sit on PTA, etc. And I feel like I will be a better doctor for my patients if I am satisfied with how I am preforming as a wife and mother. Maybe it can be attained while working full time, but if not, I am so grateful to have the choice to decide what that means to me - and I think everyone should be able to make that choice guilt-free and without having their character questioned.

What do you think of Dr. Sibert's article?

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