How Physician Moms Downplay Their Suffering and What it is Costing Us
I was talking with a Dr. Mommy, and during a part the conversation she says: "I'm so overwhelmed! I'm working 60 + hours a week, I see at least 30 patients, between my schedule, the double bookings, and walk ins, it's exasperating. I feel like I have no control over my own patient schedule. I can't say no to my manager if I need to, and if I try, then I'm the one being labeled difficult. I'm supposed to finish at 4pm, but I end up finishing more like 6pm. By the time I get home it's a mad rush to get dinner on the table, get the kids bathed and in bed and I have NOTHING left for my husband. We try to get a little quality time in, but honestly, I spend the whole time thinking about all of the charts I'm going to have to do when we are done, and I really can't hear anything he says. Ultimately, I end up staying up until 12, 1am trying to catch up and I still don't finish! "
My heart is really resonating with her pain as she continues on about her exhaustion, and the lack of connection with friends, and how no one understands and expects her to be "on" all the time because she makes it look easy even though it's killing her inside.
We get to this part in the call where I ask her what her level of satisfaction and fulfillment is and she says to me, "Well, I DO have a roof over my head, I AM a doctor, and I make good money, and I've seen a lot worse so I'd say it's an 8/10."
I say to her, "Really? After everything you just told me your satisfaction is an 8? Do you think you may be downplaying that just a little?'
I'm wondering if you can see yourself in this conversation (seriously, I'd like to know)?
Believe it or not, this is a VERY COMMON problem amongst us physicians and especially physician moms. We have been so indoctrinated to "don't complain", "put the patient first always", "suck it up" and especially as women, we have to "prove ourselves" by being even more "strong". Furthermore, individually we experience similar cultural conversations that further re-enforce our constant need to be "glass half-full" thinkers.
But when you think about it, how does that really benefit us?It's akin to being in severe pain because you are swimming with a broken leg and a shattered arm, talking about "I'm okay, it doesn't hurt that much! Some people don't even have legs to swim with!"That's ridiculous, right?
Well, here's the good news: Our indoctrination is not permanent. Research on neuroplasticity says that we can change our behavior at any time and as we learn new behaviors, we empower new neuronal connections to fire together….and Neurons that Fire together Wire together.
Dr. Mom of a 2 year old daughter, S, that I am working with works in a rural clinic. Our first conversation, she shared that she had no time for herself, barely enough time for her husband, was staying 2-3 hours after work to finish charts, and went in on her days off to catch up with administrative duties (unpaid). After just 4 weeks of working together, this Dr. Mommy was able to reclaim enough time in her schedule to start doing evening walks with her husband, join a weight watchers group with her colleagues and lose 7lbs in addition to creating new friend connections. She stopped going in on her off days, and was still making headway on her delinquent charts due to implementing dictation software. I made her do a happy dance on our last call for her progress.
I LOVE helping Dr. Mommies achieve these kinds of results.
So, here's the bottom line. Stop ignoring the problem. If you never acknowledge that a problem exists, then how can you solve it?In recovery programs they say "Admission is the first step to recovery". When we stop ignoring and start acknowledging where we are unhappy, overwhelmed and unfulfilled, then we actually have a place to stand.Having a place to stand gives fertile ground for creating structures that make life workable, enjoyable and fulfilling again.
Sometimes this means sitting down and reflecting and sometimes it means reaching out and asking for guidance and coaching.Either way, if you are choosing to keep blinders on, eventually you will hit a wall.
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