Before residency, I doubted I would find a mentor in medicine. Who but me could have varying interests, put her family in front of her career and still be wildly successful? Surely, I thought in my typically narcissistic way, I am one of a kind.
But then I met Karen.
Karen became residency director shortly after I joined the program. She is a busy woman, and I think we all figured she would put our needs last on her agenda, but Karen proved to me that time is relative.
She has three little kids, all well-adjusted and involved in their own sports and activities. Her husband has an equally high profile career and they don't have a nanny. But somehow, she was able to meet with us whenever we needed her. She counseled, mothered and taught us until we became doctors.
After residency, Karen and I became colleagues when I joined faculty. I watched her handle departmental dramas and marveled at how she quietly but swiftly worked her projects through the bureaucracy. She spent time with her patients and they were devoted to her. She lectured, published and kept up with relevant research. She had plenty of non-medical interests and activities and kept up with non-medical friends. And she never apologized for being a devoted and attentive mom.
When I decided academia wasn't for me, Karen blessed my departure. We don't talk much anymore, but I know her office door is always open should I need to talk, cry or laugh.