You Don’t Have to Be a Doctor

Says my mom. This during another lengthy debate concerning the pros and cons of becoming one. And since registration for second year isn’t a declaration of marriage, I’ve flirted a bit with various career options in the medical field.

My first go around was this spring. Lilacs a’ bloomin’ and sun a’ shinin’ and a PhD a’ smilin’. What’s so alluring about the whole gig? I pictured falling in love with…

-No STEP or shelf exams

-Making science happen

-Finding the cure for cancer

-Analyzing data from home (it’s a no-no to bring your patients home)

-Writing Dr. on checks and what not

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Flexibility as a Female Physician

Seems [oxy-]moronic, but whether you’re into jet setting or maybe something quaint, oh, say like having a family, you should meet a few of the new friends I’ve made this summer:

Miss Mix-It-Up

This pediatrician grew up and attended medical school in Kenya. After residency and a mandatory year in something akin to the Peace Corps, Michigan seemed like the place to be. Her clinical work became so boring that she went for an MPH and ended up researching pediatric obesity. Currently, two days are spent running a healthy weight clinic at a major hospital while the other three days with data analysis, papers, lectures.

Miss E.R.

She chooses to work 3 twelve hour shifts. At night. Supposedly, never misses a bit of her children’s lives.

Miss Job Share

1 opening, 2 applicants. 1 patient, 2 doctors. It’s like when you signed up to bring snacks after your high school volleyball game. Everybody wants cookies so badly that they won’t turn you away if you can only bake one weekend in October. The same team gets fed. Different girls sign up. Think about it. (At least that’s the line I’m going to feed future employers.)

Miss Part Time

Anesthesiologist, internist, plastic surgeon, gynecologist all come to mind. They’ve not bought the 70-hour-work-week-lie to repay the investment that is medical education. (Oh yeah, lenders forget that we go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt just to earn the little “m” and “d”.) For a pay cut, one can work mornings or three days or evenings etc. Endless possibilities.

Miss Consult

Turns out that you don’t have to enter residency after medical school (think teaching or medical admin–desperately needed as hospitals buildings rise higher than skyscrapers in our economy.) You don’t even have to practice after residency (think insurance claim consultation or research or nursing home management or really anything.)

Mixed messages from Mattel… should I be a mommy? A doctor? A mommies’ doctor!?

Whether guy or girl doc, these are all wonderful options to love what you do. But if there’s one common theme between those I shadowed, it was the presence of an awesome, supportive partner in crime!