I had a job interview last week, in an odd surprising way, with the medical director of a local system of FQHC medical clinics in our town. It was surprising in that I was on a rotation providing medical care to homeless patients out in a park, working with one of the doctors in their practice (who, interestingly, is actually on staff as their street medicine attending, which is pretty cool!) -- and this attending came up to me, and asked if I wanted a job in their clinic system,
What did I say? "Oh, goodness, that's so kind of you. Umm."
Sometimes, I hear myself fulfilling a female stereotype and I want to punch myself in the metaphorical nuts.
Once I collect myself and act like maybe I deserve having a job, given that I'm a pretty good resident, a rising chief, and would actually be a great fit for their clinic, we make an appointment to discuss it in a meeting in his office later that week.
I agonize over what to wear. Is this a job interview? I'm also caring for homeless patients in the park that morning - it's 95F and 90% humidity. I wear a silk shirt, and by lunchtime, it's slick with sweat and stuck to my back. My curly hair is an untamed frizz ball, and I have to bike 4 miles to the clinic where his office is located. Suffice it to say, I look great.
We had a lovely conversation about what I think I could do for their practice (Adolescent methadone clinic! Expand their home visit program!), but when he asked what was important to me, all I could think about was flexibility.
Being a resident is one of the least flexible jobs I can imagine (though I've never been in the military, which is likely even more rigid). Your schedule is given out to you a year in advance, it's incredibly difficult to get out of shifts for your own illness (or your children's many illnesses), you don't get to choose your own vacations (which is hard for those of us whose partners are teachers, or with kids in school), and when you're there, you need to be 100% all of the time (which breastfeeding mom hasn't been paged for an urgent need while pumping?).
I dream sometimes about a job where I could work full time, but with flexibility - in fact, I've drawn inspiration from some of the schedules of writers on this blog, who have Tues/Thurs afternoons off (I could volunteer at preschool! I could go to the dentist!) or do fun volunteer work on Mondays all day, or get to (gasp) do some research working from home. I want to be productive, I want to be part of a million different things (I wouldn't be Med-Peds if I could make up my mind!), and I want to work full-time, but I'd like some agency over what that looks like.
To this, the medical director responded, "Well, we're open to being flexible. Lots of young mothers want to work part-time."
I'm frustrated that we live in a society where wanting to work ~50 hours/week is seen as wanting to work part time, or that not wanting to drive in during the middle of the night as an interventionalist means you aren't committed to medicine, or that if you have children you can't be a productive educator and researcher. And I'm frustrated that wanting to work part-time is a thing "young mothers" want - working part time sounds amazing, sometimes, and I have no judgment for moms that do it -- but couldn't dads be interested in that too?
I just want to not always be the first to drop my son at daycare and the last to pick him up. Is that inconsistent with being committed to working full time?