Thursday, May 23, 2013

Guest post: Choosing part-time work in emergency medicine

First I want to tell you all how grateful I am to have found your site.  I now check it regularly and see it as my "lifeline" to others who have been through (and are going through) a lot of my own struggles and joys of being both a mom and a doctor.   I am a part-time practicing Emergency Physician 6 years out of residency.  I live in the Midwest.  I have two children, a 9 year old girl and a 4 year old boy.

For a while now I have been wanting to write something about choosing to work part-time.  I have been inspired by all the great posts from the other MiMs, so here is mine:

I am a part-time ER doc.  It is something that has taken me a while to feel proud to admit.   I love being an Emergency Physician, and I know that there is nothing else in the world I'd rather (and am meant to) do.  BUT....I am also a mom.  I had my daughter right before intern year started, and nothing could have prepared me for that experience.  I think I must have deluded myself in thinking that it would somehow be doable to juggle the responsibilities of both a newborn and intern year.  Without my husband it would have been impossible. I missed out on so many moments with my daughter during her first few years!  Do I regret this?  I guess in a way I do, but I know that if I didn't miss out on those moments I would not have been able to succeed in this career I love, and would not be able to support my family financially as I do now.  I want to tell all you other MiMs out there--nine years later, my daughter has NO recollection of the first 3 years of her life, she has NO idea that I was gone for most of those years, and despite all those missed moments we have a very close relationship. 

I started working full time after residency to pay off debt and our mortgage, but I cut down to 80% when my son was born.  This has allowed me to continue to support my family and enjoy our life by going on vacations, going out to eat, and spending time as a family.  But after a few years the time had come to decrease my hours even more.  Being in EM for so many years has taught me one thing:  life is short, and you never know when it is your time--time to get sick, time to become injured, time to die.  I know that there is a lot of controversy and stigma out there about "part-time docs", but in the end this is a personal, not a socioeconomic decision.  I have dedicated 13 years of my life to medicine.  After 3 years of residency and 6 years of practice I am confident in my skills and knowledge.  It is now my children's turn to have my focus and attention. They will only be this small and will need me this much for so long.  It is their time.


  1. Such a timely post. I'm in my Intern Year and I was just "crying" to my husband about how broke we are and how tired I am of being broke and how sad I am sometimes that I am missing out on my 2yo's life. He told me to hold on, just a few more years and things will be better. I am planning on working full time for a while to cut down on my loans as well and hopefully we will be able to buy a house. Thank you for your post!

  2. Thank you for this post. I am a radiology resident pgy 2 and my husband is an ortho resident pgy4. I had a baby this year in January. She's 5 month old now. I had to make the difficult decision to leave her with my parents after my maternity leave ended. They live an hour away from where we are doing our training. I feel super guilty about missing out on her early years but your post was reassuring that when she's 9 and i'm an attending that like you said she won't have any recollection of this time and I, too, plan to work part time immediately after fellowship because I know I am meant to be a mom more than anything in this world.

  3. (I sent this reply a few days ago...not sure what happened)

    I needed to read this today. Thank you for taking the time to share. Funny, but you are exactly where many of us going into EM want to be. This was very inspiring.

    Thank you for having the heart to put your family first and the courage to take the promotion to work part-time. I know that going part-time is not an option for everyone, but it is refreshing to hear how your decision has worked out for you.

    Please be encouraged to continue to post here. We need to hear from more EM physicians!

  4. Hi, I'm so glad I found this post! There isn't a lot out there about part-time doctors and I'm wondering, how hard is it to find part-time jobs? How much of a salary cut does one take? I am sure as an ER doc, since you work shifts, it was probably easier to do? How about for the internal medicine sub specialists out there.

    I am doing my fellowship now but cannot imagine as a mom, working full time. How do those women do it? It seems like part-time is more than enough.

    I also wonder if academia would be more conducive to part-time work? Please advise. I would love to hear other peoples stories!


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