study in contrasts at a conference

February 26, 2016

I am in DC, attending a conference focused on graduate medical education.  It’s really interesting so far, and exciting, because I feel like I’m about to delve into something big and new and that I will (hopefully!) really really love.

We are staying at a MASSIVE hotel and convention center.  I came with 4 other physician/admin/educators, and one program coordinator.  This group is comprised of really nice people, which is wonderful.

Of the 6 of us, I am the only one with young kids.  None of the 3 other women (in their 40s, primarily, I think) had kids at all, which seems statistically unusual.

I have to admit that upon learning this I panicked a little bit.

Conclusions I immediately started conjuring up:

1) Maybe this means you cannot become a leader in graduate medical education (or anything at all) if you are also a mother.

2) OR maybe you can, but choosing to do so means you are a bad mother who neglects your children.

3) You cannot possibly expect to leave work on time every day (or even most days) when you have a position with any administrative responsibility.

4) Now I get the “You Can’t Have it All” article.

5) Maybe this is just the culture of medicine.

BUT, then I became really annoyed at myself for thinking all of these things.  In part because we are training residents, and I cannot deal with the thought that the next generation of women will think/feel the same way about themselves.  I fervently want to believe that I can become a leader/mentor/teacher and still be there for A&C.

I really really hope all of the above conclusions are false.  I need to find a mentor/role model who is balancing similar challenges.  (I do sort of have one, but she is not directly involved in GME.)

At the ripe age of 35 I am becoming a dinosaur when it comes to listening to conference talks.  I sit there with my notebook and pen, and I take notes.  Pages of notes.  Not necessarily because I want to “save” the info, but because it helps me synthesize it and stay attentive (and not fall asleep).  I am much less apt to become distracted by a pop-up or new email on my Field Notes compared to an iPad.  On the back page of the notebook I have a list of potential things to look into/do.  This is really all I need.

My tech-savvy colleague was doing the same thing on his tablet.  In fact, he was actually writing with a stylus on a note-taking app and collecting tasks in ToDoist, I think.  I guess I could do that, but I just prefer paper.  I feel like people are starting to look at me strangely, like I must be ‘missing out’ on technology.  But there is nothing I feel that would enhance my experience by converting to iPad/laptop, and in fact I think it has (for me) more of a potential to detract.

Off to run before another day of talks (i.e. sitting!)!

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