I recently had a discussion with fellow residents, their spouses and friends at a dinner party. We ended up discussing the difficulty of balancing family and a surgical career which brought us to a discussion about two recently graduated female residents who both have young children. They both started out residency very similarly. I had the pleasure of working with both of them and they were awesome leaders and had great technical skills. Both were ironically interested in the same very demanding subspecialty and had done everything necessary to secure top fellowships. Then they both had kids during residency. One went on to pursue her very demanding fellowship and is currently doing well and loving her job. The other finished residency and is now a stay at home mom and also very happy. When we brought up these very divergent career paths it started a discussion about what doctors owe society. One person commented that there is a significant societal costs of training a doctor. In addition, there is a surgeon shortage and therefore a responsibility of those trained as surgeons or any type of doctor, to actually practice medicine. I was surprised by the strong feelings about this issue and felt that personal and family decisions are based on more than these large scale societal issues. Yes - the resident that is not currently practicing as a physician represents some loss to the society. But, I didn’t feel she owed anything to society. She worked hard through medical school and 7 years of residency. She took care of many patients during that time and devoted much of her life to it. In my opinion we all have a right to choose.
What do you think?