This is a really, really hard question. And even though I pose it for physicians, I know that many other women professionals should ask themselves this question on a regular basis.
A month or so ago, I was in Boston at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, where the Women in Otolaryngology group raised almost $500 K for our endowment in four days and brought women into leadership positions.
While there I met with one of my former medical students who was finishing her training in pediatric otolaryngology. She was getting ready to sign up for a new position in an academic institution.
This one-time-student, now almost fully-trained pediatric ENT doc is a star. She could go anywhere in the country and call the shots. But she was going to a particular place because it brought her as close to her home town as possible. The grandparents could enjoy the kids and she and her husband could have supports they wouldn’t have had had they chose another place to live. She knew there were compromises, but they seemed worth it.
Sound familiar? I am sure this refrain resonates with many of us.
Yet, as a group of highly-trained professionals who dispense an enormous amount of advice, we spend so little time really thinking about what it is we want when we are “finished” with each phase of our journey. This particular phase, when student/trainee enters as a full participant in the House of Medicine, is one of the most harrowing.
So when we started to chat, my mentee told me what was being offered. Over the next 1 ½ hours, I pushed her to think, “Is this going to result in [her] success?”. I knew she was strong so I pushed her hard.
And these are some of the things we discussed:
- Establishing priorities and communicating them to the proper person(s)
- Integrating work, life, home, and self openly and honestly
- Learning about giving and getting help
- Establishing an agenda for action and communicating that agenda
- Setting goals and communicating goals that align with the goals of the practice, institution or organization
And I am sure you could all add a few to that list, but you get my point. How often do any of us formally go through this exercise? Not often enough.
As we finished talking, my mentee was ready to present her proposal to build on the offer that was made to her. She was taking a proactive approach to making her first job as close to her dream job as possible. Your dream job is not likely to just come your way. But if you look carefully and with intention, something like it sure is. And how you approach this challenge will make all the difference in how you get what you want, because you know what you want. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into your dreams and how to make them come true.
Ask Linda is a forum in which you can pose questions of interest about women in today’s world. Though I am first and foremost an “expert” on the gender gap for women in medicine (physicians and patients alike), I am prepared to answer other relevant questions about medicine, the challenges women face in life and parenting. If I do not know the answer, I will try to find someone who can. Ask Linda at email@example.com.