Shadowing a DoctorFebruary 19, 2014
Medical training is a lengthy process and for female doctors, this can mean putting a hold on all plans to start a family till they graduate and start practicing. After all, there is the matter of loans that need to be repaid and finances are likely to be tight for a while. However, with age comes a reduction in fertility and with that mind, a lot of female doctors start families while they are in the initial stages of their career while trying to juggle home and work.
Changing the work culture
Supporting female junior doctors who have children is crucial and this can be achieved by ensuring flexible working patterns and a supportive workplace environment. Many are of the opinion that there needs to be a change in the work culture in many areas of the NHS and the barriers that are discouraging women from taking up leadership positions should be removed.
Of late though, there has been an increase in efforts to retain women doctors in the field of medicine with programs such as the Less than Full Time Training and the GP retainer scheme.
A juggling act
Of course, both, male and female doctors will have to juggle parenthood along with their demanding medical careers but balancing both of these factors and making them work in tandem can be immensely rewarding. To avoid getting into an impossible situation, the important thing is to be able to recognise your personal limitations as well as your available resources and work around these.
If you are planning on having a baby, what matters the most are your individual circumstances and your own perception about how manageable you are going to find parenthood and medicine. Parenthood and medicine each come with their own set of challenges but over time, a resourceful person can learn to cope with anything that comes their way.
Keep an open mind
The important thing is to have an open mind. Intrinsically, doctors are resourceful and adaptable. This goes a long way in counterbalancing all the uncertainty that is associated with pregnancy and parenthood. Being a junior doctor can be very demanding on your time and looking after an infant or a young child comes with it fair share of stresses. But if you have some strong support from people around you, it will help you feel less overwhelmed and you will be able to deal with all the anxieties much better. This support could come in the form of friends, family or paid help.
Consider various options
A good way to keep control over things is to look at all the possible childcare options before you have your baby. In many cases, there are waiting lists and childcare places are almost always full up. Speak with colleagues or friends who already have babies and try to get their perspective on things and how they manage their little children. It is also important for prospective parents to look after their own physical and emotional well-being as these are the two factors that tend to get stretched to limit during pregnancy. For a doctor especially, it can be very difficult to be at the other end of the care circle and become a taker and this is something you will have to learn and accept.