would you do it again?

July 18, 2012

man, what a hard question to tackle.
it’s 8:30 pm — my usual bedtime — and i’m pretty wide awake.  i ended up turning my routine upside down today and running after i put miss a. to bed at 7 pm.  it’s been literally years since i’ve worked out at night, but i actually think this arrangement might be better for right now.  a’s wakeups have been unpredictable, and this morning’s 5:45 am call was especially inconvenient as i had JUST pumped and was ready to run.  

this way i might actually have a chance of seeing josh for a bit longer in the evenings, too.  the only downside?  falling asleep!  this isn’t usually [ever!] a problem for me, but i’m not used to endorphins so close to downtime, either.  we’ll see what happens.

ANYWAY.  so on my little run this evening, i thought about my answer to this question:

K.  writes:  I know that you love being a mom and being a doctor.  And, if you had everything to do all over again, would you still have invested as much time into becoming a physician?  The reason that I’m asking is because I am currently studying for the MCAT.  I am 30 years old.  I am not interested in having children at this point, but I definitely want children at some point.  There is nothing more important to me right now than getting into medical school so that I can eventually take care of patients (more than I’m able to do now), but also, I just love oncology and medicine and want learn everything I can about them!  I have considered nursing (for about a second) and PA school, but I really want more than either of those programs can offer.
Does being a mom change how you feel about your career?  I know that is a very personal question.  I just wonder if my perspective will change and if maybe I’m missing out on something more important by not seeing the bigger picture.

the short version
yes.  i would do it again.  i am pretty happy with the way things have turned out, after all.  i enjoy going to work at least most of the time, and am very excited about [hopefully!!  if i can find one . . .] starting a real job in just one year.  
life is hectic right now and i do feel guilty sometimes about not being home.  but i honestly think i would probably be less happy as a SAHM.  does this make me selfish to work?  perhaps.  but a happy mother is likely to be a BETTER one in my opinion.  and as i move up the career totem pole, i am determined to find some mix that works for me.
HOWEVER.  i have to admit that i am really REALLY happy to be in fellowship and not residency right now, or perhaps med school.  even in my current position, there are plenty of compromises that i have to make.  i think that things would have been incredibly difficult had i actually been able to get pregnant when i first stated trying [ironic, huh!?].  of course, one important variable here is josh.  his residency [surgery, now vascular fellowship] has always been extremely demanding, and i don’t think i could have been happy handling things the way i am able to now.  
i believe that family is something to think about, and the choice to follow a given career path is not something to be taken lightly.
do i sound like i’m taking women back decades?  perhaps.  but i graduated college NOT thinking about these things [and determined not to think about them] — and it ended up backfiring a bit [quitting my phD, etc].  i also think that there are MANY other incredibly rewarding careers involving patients that do not involve the sacrifices of medicine.  i don’t think i would be super-happy as a nurse [i’m too . . . lazy!  really.  nursing is too physical for me and i don’t have the patience] but i probably would have loved being a PA or clinical pharmacist.
i probably would have been happy doing a lot of things, really:  i could see myself as a writer of some sort, or a consultant of some kind, or backup singer for beyoncé [ <– okay not really].   it turned out that medicine has worked out for me thus far, but i don’t think it’s the end-all be-all BEST CAREER EVER for everyone.  
sort of along these lines
i read a few pieces related to motherhood over the past 24 hours that made me think:
on becoming from dear baby

cease fire: the mommy wars from healthy tipping point

female doctors grapple with salary inequity from the philadelphia newspaper [my dad sent it to me].  personally, i’d rather take a lower salary and a job with fewer demands [so that i can spend more time with family] but obviously that shouldn’t be the only option.
thoughts?  how would you answer this reader question?


  • Reply erika March 10, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    To the person who asked you this question. I am 33 now and just pregnant with my first child. I am a physician assistant in a busy pediatric and internal medicine office. I’m just weighing in here because I feel really blessed to be in the position that I am in. I have always wanted to have a family and am happy that as a PA my work is going to be very flexible once baby arrives. I usually don’t think ahead on things but when considering PA school and med school about 9 years ago, I felt the PA route would be the best for for me to raise a family. This has been the perfect choice so far and I couldn’t be happier with my job. I have a lot of patient contact and a lot of autonomy in my practice and I really am able to focus on medicine. The physician I work with has a lot more fiscal and business responsibilities that I am glad that I do not have to worry about. I am able to go to work and do my job and leave my work at work for the most part and focus my attention on home life when I am home. Not to say that isn’t true for other professions:) Just thought I’d put my two sense in if your reader is considering the PA route 🙂
    I really enjoy your blog! thanks!

  • Reply Contented Momma March 10, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    When my son was born, like you, I knew I wouldn’t be happy as a SAHM. My job was enjoyable and the thought of being home with a small child was utterly exhausting. But now, over the last two years, my job has slowly gone downhill to the point where I just don’t enjoy it at all and so now that baby #2 is on the way, we think we can swing it so I can stay home and I am feeling ready for that challenge. So yes – I’d do it this way all over again. If I had a satisfying career maybe I would want to come back to work, even with two small children. But then you look at the prohibitive cost of daycare which also makes you question what is worth your time and money.

  • Reply Sophia March 10, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I could have written the post you just linked to about why you ditched the PhD except that I’m in my 4th year of grad school and plowing ahead hoping to finish at the end of this year. Maybe the grass is greener but I second what OMDG said about clinical research. Seems much more manageable to me but I’m also a jaded mud phud on a cell signaling fishing expedition. I’d still probably do it again since the phd gave me a flexible chunk of time to have a baby and get married which I’d put off if I were MD only. Also, having only one set of graduate loans in our marriage is nice also and I’m not sure what else I’d do to be honest.

  • Reply Jenny March 10, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Selfish isn’t choosing to be a working mom. I’ve been back at work since my daughter was 3 months old and I can’t imagine it any other way. Selfish is feeling like you have to sacrifice everything, including your career, for your child, and then spend the next 20-plus years reminding them of that fact. Being a mom is hard enough, don’t make it tougher by being critical of yourself. You are amazing!

  • Reply Susan March 10, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Granted this is a nurse’s opinion, but I think that being in medicine is something you should really, really like to do, and potentially can’t think of something else you’d rather do. The training is long, the hours are long, and our attendings are sometimes still at the hospital at 8pm…crazy. Nursing and medicine are two very different jobs, but nursing a good option to be in the health care field and have an endless array of flexible options. I think you’re great at balancing your work life and your personal life, and have a good grasp at what makes you happy.

    I often wonder why me don’t get asked the same question…

  • Reply oldmdgirl March 10, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Sarah — I had NO IDEA you were once a MudPhud. I am so glad you wrote this post, and if I have some time today, I want to go back and read over some of the reasons you dropped the PhD in the post you linked to from 2006. (Also, I’d wondered for a while what specialty Josh did to give him such horrible hours…. but didn’t want to ask since I figured you’d covered that before. And now I know!)

    I wanted to suggest that if you ever get the research bug again and you find it interesting, you should consider clinical research. It seems much easier to fit it in with a clinical career, and is far more flexible than bench science. Can you imagine working at home during your PhD and being able to write your dissertation in your underwear? Exactly. Plus, maybe we can collaborate! 😉

    So far I couldn’t be happier that I chose medicine. I tried out business before I decided upon med school. I admit that I’m really happy to have my core clerkships behind me, and am terrified about residency and the time demands it will place on my family. I also am torn — I’d really like to have another kid (I never thought I’d say that…. haha) — but since I’m 35 now I kind of have to get on that! And it will be potentially really tough to have two small children while working as a resident, so we’ll just have to see. I feel like, ask me again whether I regret my career choice when I’m a resident and maybe my response will be different. Ha.

  • Reply mary March 10, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    i know you posted the other day about perhaps writing a post on advice for new 3rd years on the floors, and I really hope you do!! I would especially love any further insight on balancing medicine and family. I’m currently in my 3rd year and my baby is due at the end of my 2nd rotation (October). Like the person who wrote the question, I started medicine a little later in life and didn’t want to wait til after residency to start a family. That being said, there are times I worry about the year to come (I keep reminding myself to take it one step at a time). So yes, any advice related to 3rd year and especially balancing medicine goals and motherhood would be great!!

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