I'm a pre-medical undergraduate from Boston, entering my junior year. I aspire to be an Emergency Medicine physician. I'm finished with my pre-medical coursework, and the next step is taking the MCAT this Spring.
For the last two years, I pushed through my studies, blissfully ignorant to how my future career path may be incongruent with my deepest desire in life: to have children. So I'm writing to you because I aspire to practice medicine, but I'm held back by the concern that the doctor-mom work-life balance may not be right for me. I close my eyes and picture my future: My time is divided between my family and my career. I'm laden with guilt for missing pieces on either end. I'm in a perpetual state of "rushed."
I've been hunting through the Internet, and it seems as though some women in medicine feel this way. I'm attempting to be a nonpartisan hunter, because in the past my confirmation bias has prevented me from considering all of the information important for my decision.
I recently came across this website, which lists the 10 things you need to give up when you become a doctor. To be honest, I was disturbed by number six:
6. Your desire to always put friends and family first
As a doctor your job usually takes priority and you simply cannot shirk your responsibilities simply because you have prior engagements of a personal nature. Over the years I’ve known many difficult situations including a colleague who had to turn down a role as best man for a close friend because nobody could swop his on-call weekend with him and the hospital refused to organise a locum to cover him. Apart from sickness or bereavement, your first priority will be to your profession. Your friends and family may find that difficult to understand at first. They’ll come round to it with time, especially once they delete your number.
OK, so the author is a bit brute with the final comment, but as a general idea, it's that on the priority list, your career in medicine trumps the important relationships in your life.
After reading this, I thought to myself, "Well, shoot." This makes me squirm. I know in my heart that I would never be able to put my career over my family, in a general sense in life. But then I think, if any career were to necessitate this, it's medicine. It should be number one because it can be life or death; it's a privilege and a commitment.
I bet when number six plays out in reality, the choice between them is theoretical and it's all about balance. But the author does provide a concrete example of choosing between the two (with wedding example, above), and in that case, would I be able to choose my job? So... number six moves me to deeply consider my career options.
I 'd like to ask you guys how you feel about number 6. Are you saying, "Yes, medicine requires a commitment that may harm relationships, more so than other careers" or "No, you don't have to choose being a doctor over being a mom, no more than you would with any other demanding career," or "I never feel as though one is of more importance to me than the other" or whatever it is - I'd love to hear it.
Thank you so much for your time, I'm so happy to have stumbled upon your website. You are all inspiring. Wishing you the best in your dual careers.
Love and blessings. J