Monday, January 30, 2017

In Which Our heroine decides

So I just made a Big Decision.
 I agonized about it afterward and was literally shaking, but I did it.

I turned down an academic position.

I only ever wanted an academic position.  Teaching nourishes my soul.  When I was almost suicidal, teaching still made me happy.  As a devotee of lifelong learning, I also wanted the chance to participate in didactics, and grand rounds, and morning report, and scholarly activity.  This particular position would also have allowed me to learn more about infection control, and get some special training, as well as training in how to teach.  I would also see clinic patients one half day per week.

Sounds like a dream job, right?  And at my beloved home institution.

It almost was, and I only barely was able to turn it down.  Because my biggest dream came true, and I have (turn the Evil Eye) two precious miracles who are finally asleep, and that job takes precedence over everything.  As that means spending at least half the year working six days per week and the other half working five days per week (probably with another few Sundays thrown in) is not the right fit for me at this point.  Especially since I am no fool, I have seen the life of an attending, and I know that the stated hours are just the tip of yhe iceberg.

But it is so incredibly frustrating.  I am forced to choose between a satisfying professional life and dedicating time to my children.  It shouldn't have to be this way.  There should be a paradigm for part-time academicians.  We who want to be part-time are just as serious.  In fact, maybe we are more intense, because we are truly trying to have it all, knowing that one can never actually have it all.

Another problem I think I grapple with is the perception - and probably even my own - that by taking this low-key, private practice position, I am being lazy.  After all, I only want to work three days a week and every fourth weekend.  Getting into and through medical school, residency, and fellowship is all about hard work and pushing onceself to excel.  My personality is also such that I don't do things by halves.  And my parents, for whom I have everything to thank, taught me to push as hard as possible to reach my full potential.  But that is exactly the opposite of what I am doing right now.  I am knowingly rejecting career advancement.  Acknowledging that someone else will make the next breakthrough.  Agreeing to watch others take over the field.  And truthfully, it makes me feel like an underachieving loser.

I haven't figured out how to deal with this yet.  But one approach I think I dislike is that I am "sacrificing" my career for my children.  That approach paints children as a burden, a roadblock, and something to be resented.  I am spending two days at week with my children because I want to be with them.  It is draining and at least as exhausting as taking call.  But there are too many precious moments that I would miss if I were at work.

At any rate,  I have decided.  I hope I can find ways to enjoy private practice.

On the plus side, the enjoying-the-children part is easy.  But that's another post for when I am not typing on my phone and it isn't after midnight