> Navigating Residency

Balancing Work and Kids

Elizabeth Grossman DermLet’s talk about work/life balance. We all want to be great doctors and great parents, but sometimes it feels like a difficult goal to achieve. I had a baby as an intern, and I’m here to tell you it can be done. Be organized, willing to work hard, and very, very flexible and you can enjoy a wonderful family life, along with a successful career.

Find Childcare

Many residencies have onsite day care, and I was careful to seek out a residency that offered this option. I got creative from there: I had college students who worked as part-time babysitters, and then I had back-up babysitters and back-up back-up babysitters.

Work on Papers at Home

The hardest part of having a child during residency is that you can’t stay until ‘dark o’clock’ to do work. You will need to get home to your kid. It isn’t easy to say “no” and “I have to go” during residency, but you will inevitably have to do this. So, study like mad at home and volunteer for projects and papers that can be completed at home. The honest truth is that you need to keep up with your co-residents academically.

Offer and Ask for Help

Finally, flexibility is key. Find neighbors with small kids with whom you can trade parenting favors. Do the same with your co-residents. If you need a favor don’t be afraid to ask, but also offer your help when you can.

The Secret to Managing Kids While Working

You’ve made it through residency and now you’re an attending. Hurrah! I had two small kids when I started my first job and a husband who was still in his surgical residency. Here is the biggest secret to managing life as an attending: have an amazing nanny…and then overpay her. I know it is hard to see your new hard-won paycheck fly out the door, but I promise you that having a loyal and wonderful nanny is priceless. My other tip: use Amazon prime and purchase a crockpot.

This advice is admittedly geared towards people who are or want to be parents. However, at its core it applies to taking care of yourself and the people you love. It is possible to thoughtfully carve out space for both yourself and others.