× Women Residents

Thinking about transferring out of gen surg

5 years 4 months ago #95159 by Ptefabulous

So I spoke to my program director and have begun the transfer process. I will have to complete my first year anyway but that's okay. It was a hard discussion to have with the PD since I have been doing well so far, he was surprised. But today, I just felt better!! The last few weeks I've been so depressed about making this decision, I cried basically everyday. But today, I had a great day!

Some of our surgeons are away so it's not too busy right now. I went for a walk at lunch, I enjoyed our teaching session today, I even went out for a little bit after work to explore my new neighborhood! With today being so great, I feel like "hey, today was good, I could do surgery!" ... But I'm pretty sure this feeling is because in less than a year I'm going to get what I really want (assuming FM accepts me).

I'll get a not so busy residency, I'll get to be able to spend more time with my fiance who lives 2.5 hours away, surgery makes visiting him on weekend pretty hard, I'm on call every "weekend" this month :( And I'll get a future where I have control over my schedule, don't necessarily have to do call, and have the flexibility to work anywhere I want to. I still feel sad about leaving behind something I worked so hard for, but I have to remember that this is my choice. I'm choosing FM, I'm choosing the residency that will allow me to continue to have a life.

I'd love to hear any comments or thoughts you guys have.

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5 years 4 months ago #95160 by asunshine

English wrote: I don't want to be harsh, but what did you think it was going to be like?

While this is totally a fair question, I can't help but think that that's what people told *any* woman who went into medicine even 20 years ago. Things are changing at a rapid pace, and 10-20 years from now, the landscape for women in surgery might look totally different, and the OP might be the one to pave the way. That's the thing: certain specialties might be "family-friendly", but that's because tough women of previous generations showed they could hold their own, even with kids.

IMHO, surgical specialties are the last holdout. I think they'll become more family-friendly (obviously not totally family-friendly), but only because someone (somewoman?) steps up to the plate now.

So OP, in my opinion, if you went for general surgery, the sacrifice you'd make would be for the women ahead of you, not necessarily yourself or your family.

That being said, I am so grateful to benefit from the sacrifices of the women who went before me, but not enough to go into gen surg. ;)

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5 years 4 months ago #95167 by English
Asunshine, my question was on the harsh side, so I'm sorry for that, Ptefabulous. Hopefully, you made your decision based off of multiple opinions and your own gut and not some anonymous individual off the internet. But my comment-- and like I said in my original post I do have a bias-- was about general surgery in general and not about women, moms, etc who do it. My husband has tried in many ways to make his job family friendly-- he took a day off during the week to be with our son, etc., but often gets resistance from his employers. So that's my husband's story-- and he works really hard and loves his work, but he loves his family more and I foresee in the next couple years that he may leave surgery. I think he sees the price on his personal life is too great and also that the craziness of the general surgery lifestyle which never ends. He sees all his mentors on their third marriages with children that don't have any relationship with their surgeon parent. Are there people that make it work? Absolutely-- but they are rare and I don't know how they do it.

Sure, general surgery can change in 20 years-- anything can change in 20 years. Is it worth it to be in a field that burns you hoping it will change in 20 years? I mean general surgery is changing for the worse presently-- less reimbursements, procedures taken over by other fields, still long hours, bundled packages for insurances, malpractice costs, and increased litigation. And the result of all this is surgeons working longer and harder to make a living or just break even. But there are still individuals who love the career and still do it. One is my husband, but I think lately he is realizing that he doesn't want his children to grow up and not know him. It hit him hardest when someone asked his partner's teenage son whether he wanted to be a surgeon like his dad and the kid's response was "No way! I never see my dad-- why would I want to do that to my kid?" Obviously, our situation is different from the OP-- that's why I would encourage you, Ptefabulous, to really look at your life (all aspects of it- career, personal, social, etc.) and decide what you want from it and how your career fits into it. That is obviously a personal choice.
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5 years 4 months ago #95170 by Ptefabulous
No need to be sorry English. The reality is that most people who are not in surgery judge gen surg harshly because they don't like it from their experience, which is fair enough. I expected it to be busy, hard, and stressful but you don't actually know what it's like until you are thrown into it. All of my fellow residents have expressed doubts at some point in residency, so I know I'm not alone, but for them the future career outcomes must be worth the sacrifices.

To asunshine, you make a good point about women having to break down the barriers. My program actually has a lot of women in it, but their personal lives and goals in life are obviously all different. Even the little things I have tried to change so far have been met with resistance, mainly because of what my chief said was the "culture of surgery". Asking questions about the call schedule ends up with the chief threatening to take away our privilege to make our own junior schedule and he would not entertain off call requests. Mentioning how I was being paged inappropriately on a post call day got me a lecture form another junior about how technically we are still supposed to work until 10am on post call days (which my contract clearly states is not the case). It's extremely difficult to change things when the people who had the same issues a year ago becomes what the culture already is. Yes it could change if I stayed and made sure I never conformed, but there's no guarantee that I wouldn't become just as jaded as those ahead of me.

Anyway, I'm happy with my decision. I feel like a huge weight has lifted and I'm actually enjoying daily life or the ward/OR again :)

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