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Jane Doe MD–My Mid-Life Career Sabbatical

Chapter 10:  A New Place, Again

by Jane Doe, MD

icomfort zoneMy place of fellowship training is a university system but a consortium of hospitals.  I am in a new location this week.  Each institution has a distinct culture I am told.  It is certainly true for the two I have now experienced.  The changing of venues is disconcerting for me.  I find long term relationships comfortable and comforting.  Knowing what to expect from people and where to go to get what accomplished is a kind of power.

For the most part the new place is a good fit for me.  There is more of a team atmosphere on the service and an emphasis on doing the right thing for each patient.  My first two months were spent in an institution with a more corporate vibe.  It felt like a machine.  Everyone was under the time pressure gun and barring complications nothing was more important than keeping to schedule.

I am again “on call” this week meaning that I am primarily responsible for the running of the service and only secondarily responsible for procedures.  Right now I am waiting for a late patient encounter.  Some how I do not mind.  I am able to eat and read, write and make calls.  I do not find it emotionally exhausting to be here.  I did in my first assigned location.  The real question for me to answer is the why.  What about a particular culture makes it feel more welcoming to me?  What does my response to different locales tell me about myself?  What should I look for in future for a culture to join?  How should I try to change my home culture if that seems advantageous or necessary?  I do not have these answers yet.

My husband has often told me to “get out of your comfort zone”.  Usually he was talking about some athletic or social endeavor but the point is well made.  It is hard to grow if we stay where we are comfortable.  Each change in venue makes me uncomfortable, each new procedure makes me uncomfortable, each patient with a diagnosis unfamiliar to me makes me uncomfortable.  The opportunities for growth are great.  Hopefully, I will make use of them, despite the discomfort.

Jane Doe, MD is pursuing another year of fellowship training after having spent 20 years in a successful practice.  These are her thoughts and observations from an unusual “gap” year. 


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