Nov
8
2010

Sticky Fingers & Snotty Faces

My Twitter-friend @MarianneDiNaps has a freakin’ sweet blog (http://blog.timesunion.com/mdtobe) and has gotten me thinking about what to blog on today. I linked her blog so all of my two readers – Mom, Dad – check out Marianne’s blog – could go read what she has to say. What can I say? I like to help a sister out with her blog traffic. So, babies. Aww….I love babies they are so cute. In fact, I might end up being some kind of specialized pediatric doctor when I grow up….probably because I like to make babies cry solely by my presence in a big white coat that is inevitably over-sized. Okay, not really – I like kids because for some reason I can handle a whiny four-year old with much more grace and understanding than a whiny 40 year old. Kids are resilient and….crap this blog is for a different day.

Anyhow, a question I get often in this life is “When are you going to have kids?” Well, hell – how do you answer that? 
Uhh….someday when I have time. Nope, they’ll tell you that you will never. have. time. After residency. Hm….start trying at 31….what if we want an entire olympic gymnastics team of kids? what if we’re infertile and it takes a long time….? what if this or that? what if? what if? what if? You could basically drive yourself crazy trying to answer this question, because there is truly never a good time to have kids in this profession.

Why is that? Most likely because in the good ole days girls weren’t doctors. That doesn’t totally make sense, though, because in the “good ole days” girls weren’t a lot of things – soldiers, dentists, business people, construction workers, lawyers – and these professions seem to be leaps and bounds ahead of medicine in socially accepting women who choose to have children. Why is it that these professions seem to be so far ahead in their efforts to stop marginalizing women who want families? Why, in medicine, are you only successful if you work 80 hours a week in a difficult specialty and neglect your family and self in the process? 
Seriously. I had a classmate tell me Pediatricians and Psychiatrists aren’t real doctors.

Uhh….what? I’m pretty sure if your child or your brain needs healthcare you’ll consider them real doctors. They go through medical school and residency just like surgeons do.

How do we end this bias against women in medicine? It’s gotten better, sure – a lot better in fact. But there is no denying it’s still there. Women are told “you better not end up pregnant” by their attendings often. I don’t know the answer to it, but I can tell you how I’ve chosen to handle it.

  1. Choose residency program based on family-friendliness.
  2. Have kids when I want to, if someone doesn’t agree with it they are welcome to choose not to have a child when I do.
  3. Choose my family over medicine. Always. Period. No exceptions.
  4. Run my life on my schedule.
  5. Stand up for myself and my decisions about my body. Always. Period. No exceptions.


I want to hear from women in medicine & other professions. How do you handle it?

If you have kids tell me your experiences. If you don’t have kids, tell me why you don’t (you don’t want any sticky fingered, snot-faced miniature people ripping apart your marriage children, you don’t have time, you have fertility issues, etc.). If you’re in my position, thinking about considering one day maybe having a little monster growing inside you trying to steal all your time & energy kid, tell me how you feel! If you’re a stay-at-home mom did you have to give up a dream to do it or did you always want to be a SAHM? How does the non-medical world view doctors who are also moms? If you’re TTC share your experiences on how you got to that point. Big decision. What made you make it? How’s it going? Nice to meet you, now inform me of your sex life. 

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4 Comments + Add Comment

  • Woohoo, thanks for the shout out!

    Yes, medicine is still an old boys' club. I don't have all the answers on how to end this bias, but I definitely have some ideas. First, increase med school class size. More doctors means each doctor has to work fewer hours, which in turn means work/family balance is easier to achieve. Second, provide government-subsidized child care at all hospitals. Third, increase the length of paid maternity leave.

    Don't you think those things would help?

  • I agree with Marianne on ways to end the bias. I say I personally never want children but it's a constant issue between me and the boy because he wants children one day. I suppose I'm not 100% set on that.. just lean more toward never. Part of me doesn't want to have a child because genetics and my health but the other part is me worried about not having time to be a good mother and be in medicine.

    As you know, I'm going for the dual MD/PhD and very into research so will probably end up in the lab most the time as opposed to clinical. I love that but right now I barely have time for myself while working in the lab so I can't imagine having another person to take care of as well. I've seen what happened to our family with two parents who were way too dedicated to their job to maintain that family/work balance and I don't want to be that parent.

    I suppose time will tell.. love your blog girl!

  • Hi! I definitely want kids, as does BF- but not until after intern year for sure. I have no problem working half time to stay home with them (i think i want to do general peds, or possibly endocrinology but I don't know if I wanna do a fellowship), but I know that won't be possible til I'm an attending.
    BF wants to do urology or optho, so hopefully his salary will allow me to do that lol

  • Lovely technology, typed a nice, long comment and while logging in to actually leave said comment, comment managed to disappear, so let's see if I can reproduce:

    First off, the legal profession is (nearly) the same as medicine. (And yes, I know I'm SUPER late in commenting on this, but I've been meaning to read your blog for a while and now it's a nice study break :-) Anywho…) If you plan to make partner in a large firm, you better plan to not have kids. Some areas of the law are slightly more forgiving than others. Not every firm expects the 80-90 hour work week. Other options for female attorneys are: have a stay at home dad or pop that baby out and find a daycare ASAP so you can get back to work right away.

    Lucky for me, my husband is more than willing to be a stay at home dad. I have a higher earning potential than he does, so the decision was made before we were even married that he would stay home with the kids while I continued to work. Of course, this also means waiting several years to have kids to where we are financially stable enough to have a single income household. Not an easy decision as I think I already have quite the maternal instinct (you should see how I am with our 2 furry babies) and leaving my babies home (even with dad) for 8+ hours a day will not be easy. But it's the best decision for the family.

    Until every office/hospital/business has a daycare, it's going to be a difficult decision that female professionals will have to make. I agree that there have been incredible strides towards equality in the workplace, but for some reason, taking time off to have a baby/stay home with a sick child/anything else relating to family that requires you to not be at work is still not okay. I have the same views as you though: work will NEVER come before family. My dad is a workaholic to the core and I never want to become that in the eyes of my future children.

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About The Author

I’m a Medical Student (that means I'm in school to become a doctor). My life story can be viewed here. I started this blog in hopes of landing a role in a Lifetime movie so I could quit school and move to Hollywood, so if you wouldn't take medical advice from Angelina Jolie, you shouldn't take it from me. I may not even be a real person. In fact I'm probably a spambot. Or a 15 yo boy blogging from a dingy basement. If you're really interested you can read more about me here. If you have any questions or want to guest post contact me.

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