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Women in Medicine–Do You Take the Time You Need?

Away for a couple of weeks and realized I had been deficient in posting! Vacation in Ireland was fabulous and I realize again why it is necessary to get away from work. It was one of the few vacations in recent times where my husband and I went away on our own. Just the two of us. No real agenda, just traveling the countryside and staying in castles around Ireland. The best part was that my phone does not have global access and the time difference made it difficult to answer phone calls. Though his phone does have this type of service, we made a commitment to each other that he would only attend one meeting during the week and otherwise, we both “disconnected” from work.

Much has been mentioned about physician burnout and vacations are essential to recharging and reenergizing. There is a way to do this that makes the most of your time away, even if that time is an hour or two during your work day. We were both going to bed answering emails until the nightly news was over. We thought we were being productive and multitasking. Instead, we were thinking, planning, worrying, and not discussing, talking, cuddling.

We do need this time to be together, even if it is just “hanging out”. Productivity is not just measured in the number of “things” done but in the satisfaction of a day completed. Taking time to walk the dog, without bringing the cell phone to answer emails or make phone calls, I actually noticed the beautiful sunset and the way the clouds look when they turn pink as dusk settles. Wow! I need to find joy daily.

As a physician, I can find so many ways to recognize my imperfections. Being a mother my imperfections are pointed out frequently….assume that is true with all mothers and I know I still point out my own mother’s flaws. My mother is 82, lives and drives on her own and did a fabulous job raising 8 children on a construction workers salary. We have a PhD, MD, 3 master level teachers, business owners,  accountant, and simply fabulous adults as her children, and yet we tease her all the time and find ways to point out her flaws.

From now on, I vow to tell my mother at least one fabulous thing she did for me growing up every time I talk to her. I will remind her that she had us kneel in front of her before heading off to school. She touched her hand to my forehead and said “May God bless you and keep you safe” then sent me on my way to walk to school. I knew my day started out with my mother caring about me and praying for me that day. Such a simple start to the day and it made me feel loved and protected.

Let’s all take a few minutes every day to recognize and celebrate the good things we do and remind others in our lives that they make a difference. For those physician parents out there, it is not easy, but it is rewarding. Thanks for the work you do and the efforts you make.

Originally published at the Indiana University School of Medicine Blogs Hub, October 25, 2017

Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber

Executive Director, IUNCOE in Women’s Health, she leads efforts to achieve the mission of improving the health of Indiana women with an outreach program, statewide collaborations, and impacting policy decisions. Professor of Clinical Medicine and Pediatrics, she served as the Chief Physician Executive Outpatient Care/Center of Excellence in Women’s Health @ Eskenazi, provides primary care for patients with chronic diseases/cancer survivors/eating disorders. President, American Medical Women’s Association (2015-2016), she is an Inaugural Fellow and recognized for outstanding achievements in science, medicine and academia. She served on the governing council of the Women’s Physicians Congress American Medical Association as Vice Chair. Receiving numerous awards that include: IUPUI Outstanding Woman Leader Award, Indianapolis Monthly‘s “Top Doctors”, American Medical Association (AMA) Innovations in Medicine award, and American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) “Exceptional Mentor” award. In 2017, she was named a Woman of Influence by the Indianapolis Business Journal. Prior to 2007 she was on faculty at SUNY Upstate Medical Center, Morehouse School of Medicine and Emory School of Medicine. She graduated from Weill College of Medicine at Cornell, and completed her residency in internal medicine at University Hospital of Cleveland Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber has been a member of the Indianapolis Medical Society since 2007 and is a frequent contributor to the IMS Bulletin.

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