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My Mid-Life Medical Sabbatical–Jane Doe, MD Series

Chapter 6: Running Behind

By Jane Doe, MD

Running behindThis is the 6th in a series of weekly posts about returning to training at mid-life and mid-career.  I am in the second month of a yearlong fellowship in a technical area of my specialty.

This week I am behind.  I am so far behind it is not even this week.  It is next week.  Last week I was “on call”.  This is seven days of being the first to arrive and the last to leave and taking all of the phone calls regarding the patients on the service.  I have taken many varieties of call in my career but none that I can recall came without a later morning, an earlier afternoon or a night without phone calls for seven days.  I did not write this essay, do laundry or exercise much.  Starting today, Monday, someone else is “on call”.

I am tired but the deferred activities are calling and must be arranged into a hierarchy.  With apologies to Maslow (and his “hierarchy of needs”),  I have created my own.

  1. Clinical responsibility
  2. Family responsibility
  3. Sleep
  4. Nutrition
  5. Exercise
  6. Friendship maintenance
  7. Mental diversion
  8. Necessary household tasks
  9. Study

I do not think this was the order of importance I created at the start of my career if I thought at all about what was most important.  Nor do I know if I would have found this extended period of being “on” as tiring earlier in life.  I only know I find it to be physically and mentally draining now.  As my experience in the field and my knowledge of the people involved grows, I trust it will become less fatiguing.  Right now though, I need a nap.


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