× Women Physicians

Ever wonder "what have i done?"

9 years 4 months ago #75826 by melodytr
I just found this site and am glad to know that there are others I can relate to.

I've always known that becoming a physician for me was to serve others and I find great joy in doing so. But didn't anticipate the extra challenges when becoming a mom MD.

Had a 33wk preemie daughter 3 months before residency and felt very guilty the first 2 yrs not being able to spend as much time as I wanted to. THe 1st yr of residency being the worst. I was even jealous of my husband because of the time he could commit to her while I had to get through my crazy hectic internship schedule, work from home, and still be a mom. Cried alot and felt horrible to even feel jealous but that resolved as the schedule lightened up(in my 3rd yr) and I was able to spend more time.

We relied alot on family members to help out but with differing views of childcare, we only asked when we needed help and placed alot of rules. That probably added to the challenge but better safer than sorry(esp with family members who relies on cultural traditions that dont' apply to preemie babies(over/underfeeding, believing in rituals that involve less than ideal hygiene,etc).
It's been manageable and we do our best to stagger our calls so that neither of us were on call the same day if we could help it. Worked for the most part.

I chose to sacrifice areas of work and time with colleagues/staff(i.e. presenting topics/research,gatherings,etc) to spend time with daughter and hubby even if it meant 30min-2hrs a night. I probably just scraped by residency with my attendings always expecting more of me. Although they were supportive,don't feel they every truly fully appreciated the juggling act of being a momMD and residency with a husband who was equally as busy going through his pediatric residency at the same time. They expected me to stay on full track and to be just as up to par as the fellow residents who don't have kids. easier said than done.

She is now 4 y/o old. Although always a daddy's girl(which I contribute initially to the lack of time I had in the beginning with her), she does flip flop between us, desiring more time with whomever has a busier schedule for the month. Family quality time was primarily only on the weekends if neither of us were on call.

My husband is now in fellowship and we have large medical school debts to pay off. I sacrificed my desire for fellowship so that he can complete his. I am working at this time and earning more to help pay off rent, childcare,etc. We are even contributing to our family member's expenses due to the tough economy to help keep a roof over one's head. I don't even think those family members realize the significant debt we owe are more than their debts combined(though we have mentioned it). Supposedly they don't have enough to contribute but yet I see them shopping and taking their kids to classes,etc things that I wish I had the time to do. I feel like we need to pay off our own debts before helping others so feel quite split about helping yet it's family so it's tough.

I'm sure this will all even out in the end when he completes his fellowship but for now, I'm tired of the long hours,stress of demanding patients, and supporting others at the cost of my own immediate family.

I was working part-time but on a full-time schedule 5days/wk plus an additional 12hrs(work from home and weekend to catch up on charting, results, emails,etc). Worked for both an HMO and community clinic.

When i was working 3x/wk with my first job out of residency with the clinic,everything was so much nicer. But with the pressure to pay debts and supporting immediate as well as extended family, I picked up the other job and have been working extra long hours. Just not worth it. I work per diem to keep the little flexibility I have in scheduling. So no benefits but at least I can take the break I need when I need it without being locked down to a 2wk vacation only period in 1yr. DOn't do weekends since that is the only time I get with daughter, husband, and family.

I've given up my higher earning position with room to go up(opportunity wise) because of the crazy hours. Need to to also take care of family members health because being proactive will hopefully delay the consequences. I know already that should other members fail in their health, the responsibility will be shouldered onto my husband and I by default secondary to our position and earnings. Not ready to deal with that nor can our current circumstances handle that.

I am still working at a clinic on a part-time basis to keep things going, pay monthly dues, and I feel I am contributing to making a difference with the underserved population there. DOn't have to do additional work. DOne at the end of the day and I can leave it all there. That's the way it should be. I'm happier now because now I can also spend that time with my immediate family(esp devote the time my husband and daughter), rebuild my health, and do things I haven't done for quite some time. THe pressure to pay for rent,etc is still a looming concern but I think picking up part-time work here and there should be sufficient to get by for several months.

In the end I would prefer just keeping to a part-time job only because I've worked really hard to get to where I am and know I would miss clinical practice if I gave that up. I plan to eventually do a doctors without border somewhere down the line but obviously would have to be able to keep up the skills. I think working at least 3x/wk and/or half days is sufficient to do so. I wouldn't mind doing a nonclinical job in between as long as flexibility is there if I end up part-time permanently.

I do believe it is more difficult to return into the field after couple years out(both in keeping professional procedures, CME, etc to stay up to date and be rehired, having references when returning to work,etc). I went into med school late and took a year off from med school to residency so I already appreciated that difference then.

So for those of you are considering taking time off but planning to return to practice in the future, definitely keep yourself part-time somehow. IF you're willing to give up clinical practice, then it doesn't matter as much. You have to do what's best for you and the family.

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9 years 4 months ago #75834 by kpzr/9145

This link is to an article about physician depression and suicide. We need to be aware of this as it is completely different for us as physicians.


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9 years 4 months ago #75836 by sah
Almost everyone that practices direct patient care has an experience that causes them to doubt their ability in their early training. If this is what you are meant to be then you will get through it. Having a major crisis in confidence is very common--and everyone hides it from their colleagues.

My understanding it that once you get through, anesthesia is a field that allows you to have a relatively good salary with fixed hours, although I don't know this for sure as I"m not in that field. So that is a huge plus for someone with a family. The critical care, not so much, although now that many hospitals require ongoing inhouse there are some places that you can have fixed hours as well. Also, with either of these fields, you do do not have outpatient responsibilities that absorb huge amount of time. So what i am trying to say is, if you can get through this you may be in a very good position. Also, don't burn your bridges and act as a responsible person--if you decide to take a break or quit then if you can do it at then end of the year if possible.

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9 years 4 months ago #75921 by 3crazykids
I echo the "don't quit on your worst day" advice. EVERYONE struggles in training, but I know that I felt like I was the only one struggling. Doing a medicine chief year and now being 2 years in practice has given me some perspective on that. That said, I still have patients that I lose sleep over, still get that nauseous pit in my stomach from time to time. I hope I'm more practiced at experiencing those feelings, so that they don't totally undermine me. The important thing is to find support (does your hospital have a confidential "wellness" center? Also, I know that our local medical society has confidential physician support services)

I had my first child during my second year of IM residency. I had twins 2-1/2 months before starting my subspecialty fellowship. I found it physically painful to be away from my babies for 30 hours at a time. I'm married to an anesthesiologist and we don't have any family in town. The biggest part of our budget has always been childcare. We have always had a nanny, because of our schedules. It has worked for us, but I definitely experience feelings of resentment towards her (the nanny), which I figure is rooted in jealousy. I'm in private practice now, and have found a part time situation which is ideal. They want me to work full-time next year, so I don't know how long this will last.

My husband (anesthesia) works really hard, but there are women in his practice who limit the amount they work and the amount of call they take. I think that anesthesia does really have a light at the end of the tunnel, in terms of options, when you are done. Hang in there!

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9 years 4 months ago #76005 by IamMe
Thank you so much for all the great responses. It really does help to read them and feel like maybe I'm not the only one who's been through this. I'm feeling a little better lately. Trying to reach out more to others in my program too.
Definitely still struggling with the time away from my son. I feel like as he's growing and changing, it's only getting harder to have time away from him. I found it much easier when he was a little baby and he didn't seem to be phased by my coming and going.
As for seeking help with depression.. I think I could definitely benefit from this, however, I'm sure many of you can relate to having trouble scheduling time to take care of yourself. I am going to work on it though.
I hope this is true that anesthesia will afford me an easier way of life once I am more experienced and through with training. My husband keeps reminding me of this, and I try to tell myself this as well. I do worry that this is not the case though. I worry that I will have trouble handling the stress when I am done with residency and may be working on my own.
Anyway, I hope to have more time to write soon.
And I truly do aprreciate all of your responses.
Thank you so much.

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9 years 4 months ago #76048 by Anesthesia Mom
The title of your post caught my attention because the answer is "yes, I still do." I'm an anesthesiologist. I had my son when I was half way through my CA-1 year and I've struggled every single day since he was born. My husband is also an anesthesiologist but fortunately was 5 years ahead of me in training so was an attending by the time our son was born. We put him in a child care center when he was 4 months old and my husband became the primary parent for the remainder of my residency with my mother-in-law picking up the slack when we couldn't avoid our schedules overlapping. It was not easy and still isn't. The things I had going for me are that I love what I do and my husband is incredibly supportive (and understands where I am in a way that is possible only because he also practices my specialty).

You have chosen an extremely stressful field not only because, as you've learned the hard way, death is a constant companion but because our specialty is changing in character rapidly and it isn't what is was even 5 years ago (and frankly, we have no way of knowing what it's going be like). There is hope for a better life after your training is over but you are still going to have to decide if that's the life you want. As a practicing physician, you are always going to be called on to sacrifice time away from your family and your life is always going to be different in terms of stress than the average working person and as an anesthesiologist, different than most physicians. You have to decide if you love it enough and if your work is important enough to you that the sacrifice comes even close to being worth it. I have struggled with these things everyday but I have been able to answer a couple of the questions for myself so I keep going. I choose to practice not only because I love my work but because it is part of who I am. Because I have found that I need my work to be a complete person, I feel that the time it takes me away from my child comes close to being worth it because I have more to offer him when I am with him. I found a job that allows me to be there most nights to feed him dinner and tuck him in and gives me way more time off than the customary 2 weeks of yearly vacation that most working parents get. I found a child care center where he is happy and thrives. So far it's working and I can only hope that when I'm at the other end of my life, I can look back and say that I gave him the best life I could, no matter how unconventional it was.

If possible, take some vacation so you can step away for a few days and make your decisions with a clearer head after you've rested. Review your bad case with someone within your department that you can trust and learn from it. Though it does not happen often (thank heavens!) it does happen and if you choose to stay in anesthesia you will see it happen again either to you or to a colleague. It's the risk we take every time we roll a patient in the room no matter how safe we've made it. I agree with someone who posted above that you need a mentor. I was so lucky to have several female attendings who had kids too. Don't expect that they'll be sympathetic (they won't - all will expect you to suck it up just like they did) but they may be able to provide some perspective and give you a little hope. I also had a couple of resident colleagues that either had kids around the same time as me or shortly before me who I could go to and just vent which was truly a lifesaver. No one, including your husband, can understand like another woman who's going through the same thing (which is why you've posted on this forum). Having a child changes everything but down deep, you still have the remanants of the woman you were when you decided to go into medicine in the first place. Reconnect with her. Lastly, if you believe in a higher power, pray. You are strong, you can do this IF you want to. Just decide if you really do.

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