The world of medicine is like a bubble. A lot of people THINK they know what goes on there, but unless you're down in the trenches it's unlikely you do. So here is my semi-anonymous blog, here to tell you what really goes on in the life of a medical resident.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Looking Ahead

Already I'm stressing in advance about my return to work. I'm going back earlier than I'd like, but that's influenced by two factors. One is money-- we need it. We don't have it. Mr. Couz doesn't make enough to keep our household afloat (thanks to my med school debt) on his own, and my union only tops up our unemployment to 70% for the first 5 months or so. 

God, I hear myself whining about this and have to laugh. I know in the US, only 6 weeks of maternity leave is protected and I also know that a LOT of people don't get any top-up at all. But I live in a world where literally everyone I know who has had a baby has taken the full year as protected by law. And many of them think I'm nuts for going back early. But there's more.

The CCFP-EM exam (my last licensing exam for emergency medicine) is in early September. I must be finished my program within 3 months of this exam in order to be eligible to write it this year. I can do that if I go back after 6 months of maternity leave. Which, since I went off when I was 38 weeks pregnant and The Bean was nearly 2 weeks late, means I'll be going back when he's just 5 months old. It feels too soon. 

But my program has been wonderful. Remember how they handled the trauma rotation from hell last summer? Well, they've stepped up to the plate once again. Not only have they decided that my second month of 'community ER' doesn't actually need to be done out of town, but they've made me a schedule as family-friendly as possible. So what do I have left?

1. Ortho/plastics: Sounds horrific, but it's a clinic-only rotation with normal people hours. And no call. I might even get a lunch break.
2. Anesthesia: I'll be working 7:30am until 3-4pm. With lots of down time. And no call. In the same hospital as my town's NICU, which will be helpful if I'm still pumping at that time. Gah. The things that guys don't have to worry about.
3. ER
4. ER
5. Elective: I'm planning a sports medicine elective here in town. Again, sweet hours. No call. If it doesn't work out, I'll just do an extra month of ER. 
6. ICU Sudbury: The only less-than-ideal part. Heavy call, long hours. I'm saving a week of vacation for this one. So hopefully missing what will essentially amount to 3 weeks of my son's life won't hurt either of us too much. 
7. ER
8. ER

Sigh. I'm already stressing about how on earth I'm going to handle balancing parenthood and residency. Not to mention studying. I haven't managed to fit that into mat leave very well so far, and it's only going to get worse. I think I'm going to have to learn to survive on very little sleep. 

I loved EM Physicians recent post about balance-- you can read it yourself here. It reminds me that if I push through this last 6 months I will eventually have enough control over my life to create my own balance. And a big part of why I chose emergency medicine was in order to have the freedom to live the parts of my life that have nothing to do with medicine.

Like my family.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hang in there. My first few weeks back at my (non-medical, but long hours) job were really hard and a total blur (I'm in the US, so this was at 8 weeks postpartum). I think it's hard no matter when you have to do it. But like everything else in life, you figure it out. If your kiddo isn't an early teether and is a reasonable sleeper, 5 months might be a really good time, since it might be a local maximum in sleep for you. The main thing I'd advise is to be as patient with yourself as you can. I got used to the lack of sleep and functioning at work, but I obviously wasn't 100%, and that would show in forgetting things or misplacing things much more than usual. Oh, and definitely do whatever you have to to stay hydrated and fed. I was still exclusively bresatfeeding and pumping at work, and that continues to take a toll on your body even though you are busy at work. If you use a hands-free pumping bra (I loved the easy expression bustier) you can eat and drink while you are pumping, which is good when time is short and that's the only break you get. Oh, and one more thing that really helped -- I got a coffee tumbler mug thing that you can put your own pictures into, and put pictures of my daughter in there, so I could "bring her with me" to work. It was nice to be able to be able to carry that with me to meetings, etc. Or just some pictures in the pocket of your coat might help. You can do it!

7:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the other anonymous, you are going to be completely fine. The real money will kick in so soon you will be amazed what you were ever worried about. And though this may sound crazy now, I would suggest that it's much easier to spend a little extra time away from them at this age then a year from now when Bean is a year and a's going to be fine. You're doing great!

1:14 PM

Blogger frylime said...

i'm glad you're posting again! good luck with transitioning back to work. for a female med student, i enjoy reading a "working mom" perspective. i look forward to reading any new posts you have...

2:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can promise that the brain does come back. With my son 5 months old, it's making a welcome come back! You'll be fine.


7:16 PM

Anonymous jojomd said...

Don't worry, you'll get through it. I found thinking about going back much harder than actually being back. As you said in your last paragraph, there's light at the end of the tunnel and after that you'll arrange your schedule in whatever way you want. As you know I too went back early (six months) and pushed through, and after that I was able to work 3 days a week for a while-it was lovely.

1:54 PM


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