Tour for Diversity in Medicine

#T4DPacNW Day 3: Balancing the Best I Know How

While I was packing for the upcoming T4D trip, my soon to be four-year-old asked me where I was going.  As I explained to her that I would be going on tour for a couple of days my daughter promptly informed me she too would be coming with me.  This didn’t surprise me.  She asks/threatens to follow me everywhere whether it be to work, the store, the gym and even the bathroom.  I honestly thought that the moment I graduated medical school and completed residency the hardest part of my life was over.  Little did I know that “balancing” work, family and my child was going to be the hardest part of my life!

During the tour, I get to see and hear many personal balancing acts from my fellow mentors.   I got to know Dr. Rivera who was a single father during medical school and struggled to stay up late studying, while raising 2 children on his own. I witnessed Dr. Young inspire so many lives on stage and run to the back of the room so she could FaceTime her husband and catch 5 minutes of her son’s basketball game.  Time after time I get asked on the final panel, “How do you find balance in personal and work life?”

My honest answer: I don’t know.

On Monday’s, my longest work day of the week, I usually round at the hospital 1-2 hours before starting my day. Typically once I arrive in clinic I see 25 patients, while teaching medical and nursing students.   As anyone who works in an outpatient clinic knows, it’s not just seeing patients and writing notes. I have work in reviewing test results, contacting patients and returning phone messages. On these days, I end up getting home from work about thirty minutes before my daughter’s bedtime. We have limited quality time, but to make the most of it, I try to read her a bedtime story if we’re lucky and I’m not being paged repeatedly. These days are tough for the whole family. HOWEVER on my weekday off it is a completely different story.  I wake up early and get to take my daughter to school be the first one in line to pick her up. Once I pick her up we spend the afternoon and evening talking, laughing and playing.  That day work takes a back seat to my life.  Non-emergent messages do not get answered. One wouldn’t think I was a doctor at all.  Is that balance?  Maybe. Is it hard? Definitely!  

I recently read an article on a new research study done by a Harvard Business School professor.  It stated that the daughters of working mothers were more likely to be employed, hold supervisory positions and earn more money than the daughters of women who don’t work outside the home.   

Do I believe it?  

At the end of the day the only certainty that I have is that I absolutely love the career I chose.  I also love my daughter very much and I am grateful that she is in my life.  I’m working hard to give her the best life I know how, while fulfilling my need to help others and make a difference in the world.   I feel that my kind of “balance” though chaotic, is what works well for me and my family.  If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a single thing!

So how do I balance work and home?  The best way I know how

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Website services & Tour Photos: Errol Dunlap