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Managing an academic career with family?

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11 years 8 months ago #49866 by amf77
Hi,

I am a post-bacc applying to med school for matriculation in the Fall of 2009. I began working in a lab earlier this year and absolutely LOVE it; I really hope that if all works out, it will be possible for me to pursue both research and clinical medicine. Additionally, I feel that for me, it would be a better doctor if I were to remain involved in research, especially depending on future specialty. However, I am realistic and realize that with a husband and child (currently 8 ½ mos…the child, not the husband, although somedays I get confused ;) ), it would be nearly impossible to manage the demands of a successful lab with clinic and all of life’s other personal responsibilities. I should also mention that I am 30, so this may all be a pipe dream by the time that I graduate as my age may be a barrier in terms of the time I can allocate to research since I'm getting a late start in a medical career.

I don’t think that I’m the kind of person who needs to have my name first on every journal article; e.g. ego shouldn’t be an issue for me, although I can imagine that if a lot of my life is poured into something, ego (or rather, feeling shafted) may become an issue later on down the road. If I don’t feel the need for recognition as a world-famous researcher, what are my options in keeping a foot in academic medicine while managing life’s other demands? I know that there is probably the possibility of sharing a lab, but that seems like it may be equally time-consuming – I have a feeling that I would feel guilty if I wasn’t keeping up my end of administrative tasks, for example. Is it common to work for another doctor’s lab? Join projects here and there pertinent to one’s field, sort of like a free agent? Any advice would be appreciated.

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11 years 8 months ago #49867 by twinmom
1) You're not too old. I'm a 30 year old med I and I'm planning to do academic medicine. No one's told me that I can't do it, and I've had lots of good, realistic contacts. In fact, all of the neonatology fellows started med school at 29-30. Go figure.

2) I think with regards to the balance, you'll just want to be very picky about what programs you apply for. There are family friendly programs out there, you just have to be aware. But where I am, in the lab/group where I worked prior to med school, as well as where I'll be this summer, most of the people have families. Perhaps it helps that they're in the children's hospital, I don't know.

In academics, there always will be the funding struggle of protected research time, versus clinical time, so you've got to make sure (from my experience) that you've got a clinical supervisor who will make sure that your research time truly is protected. Otherwise, you end up in a bad place.

I don't know if this helps, since I've got my kids running around, so I haven't proofread, but these are my thoughts. Good luck, and I hope you do well in your application process. :)

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11 years 8 months ago #49868 by amf77
That helps a lot! Very funny, but the lab that I'm currently working in is a neonatology lab...hmmm... :)

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11 years 8 months ago #49869 by TexasRose
I was going to pop in and mention that the fellows and attendings I know in neonatology appear to be very satisfied with their clinical, research and family balance. But then I saw that the topic had already been covered. :laughing:

"All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you."

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11 years 8 months ago #49870 by Doc201X
Interesting comments about neonatology, one of my first research positions was in neonatology and while the research and clinical aspects were amazing, the lifestyle seemed to be the pits IMHO. Obviously things have changed in 20 years!

My Scientist/Physician Journey
www.Doc201X.blogspot.com

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11 years 8 months ago #49871 by twinmom
I believe it path, there's an older maternal-fetal medicine guy who came to talk to us, and was telling me that neonatologists always burned out, so I should do maternal-fetal medicine instead. :laughing: We'll see.

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