One of the sessions I attended was a Parenting in Medicine Mentoring Panel, a wonderful idea with an unfortunate acronym. Nancy Rigotti, who directs the Office of Women's Careers at Harvard and a past President of SGIM, led the panel. Mothers in medicine of various stages of their academic career shared their stories, much like we do here. There was also time for questions in the packed room of mostly women and a handful of men (including one division head who spoke about his support for work-life balance in his department by budgeting maternity leaves and family leaves, into his yearly FTE equation, and contracting with emergency child care services- awesome.)
Some key points that were made by panelists and the audience:
- Being a physician makes you a better mother. That quality of being calm under pressure comes in mighty handy when you’re faced with a teenager who announces, “I didn’t go to school today.”
- Make your partner a partner. Many women echoed this. Some split the weekdays in terms of who was responsible for making dinner for the evening
- Get help to do things you don’t want to do to spend that time with your kids. If you can afford housecleaning help, it is worth it.
- If you find yourself working in an unsupportive environment, find a peer group who all have kids to help cover each other when needed.
- Take risks - in your career path, in life
- There is no one way to do it. We each find ways to make it work with our families and choices.
- Don't delay having your family. Unintentional childlessness or having fewer children than desired happens to mothers in medicine.
- On-site childcare can be a godsend.
- Make family dinners a priority.
- Share our stories, form communities of support. (See: MiM byline)