Saturday, October 20, 2012

Work And Life Enmeshed

It's my fault.  I didn't have to go into private practice.  Or join a group that quickly became just the two of us.  I didn't have to take on so much nursing home work.  And certainly giving out my cell phone number went far beyond expectations.  But the patients were so complicated that my coverage started to send them to the emergency room every night.  Practically, taking my own phone calls on the weekend just made sense.

So my friends and family have become used to me walking around with a mobile phone attached to my ear.  I accept the fact the I'm never really free (unless I leave the country).  Vacations, weddings and even the children's party today got interrupted.  Between choruses of Happy Birthday I was hashing out a case of chest pain with a frightened octogenarian.

Younger physicians talk of work life balance.  For me, the seams have thoroughly faded.  Work and life enmesh.  I never leave the house without my mobile phone and car charger.  I rarely consume more than one alcoholic beverage at a time lest I receive an important page.

I'm present in my spouses and kids life.  I go to every parent teacher conference.  I rarely miss a family dinner.  But we all are aware of the mobile leash that binds me to my non filial responsibilities.

My job has become my life's work. 

I'm not sure how else to fulfill the covenant I've agreed to.


Anonymous said...

My father was a great family practice physician in a small town. He recently passed away, and over 800 people attended his funeral. The town population was only 800. 4 pastors were at the funeral and mentioned he was at the dying patients' bed when they arrived, and he stayed after they left. Nothing was said about him being a wonderful father or husband. He was never there for us. He took better care of his patients than his own family. I am now a physician, and I am not married to my work or my patients. I am married to my husband and my family comes first, not my job. I undersand completely what you're saying, I lived it for years and years.

Anonymous said...

I am a veterinarian in solo practice, and I sleep with my cell phone. I'm available 24/7, and that also means that unless I've hired a relief veterinarian (which comes out of my pocket), I cover all emergencies as well.

All this, and I guarantee I'm paid about half your salary - not that you're being paid a specialist's salary, but still. It's all relative.

As the first Anonymous said so eloquently, you have choices to make. Choose wisely.