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My Mid-Career Medical Sabbatical: New Beginnings are Trumped by Residual Obligations—Chapter 4

By Jane Doe, MD

kids watching youThis is the fourth in a series of posts about returning to training at mid-life.  I am in week three of a yearlong fellowship in a technical area of my specialty.

I have moved to a city many hours drive from my home.  But had to return to my home last weekend to fulfill the last of my attending obligations for the year.

My new program is in one of the largest academic medical centers but my home practice is also in a training environment with residencies in all areas of medicine and fellowships in many sub-specialties.  As do my own children, residents and fellows under my tutelage deserve to have me laud their accomplishments and stand by them during stressful events.  One such event was the presentation of a senior project for which I was the project mentor.  Therefore I returned home for a morning of resident presentations and an evening of congratulatory speeches.

Why did I make this trip?  What do we really owe those who are watching us?  Our actual and metaphoric children are looking for examples of how to be a parent, citizen or doctor.  I think we owe them the best example of ourselves we can offer.  Illustrating diligence in the execution of duty even when inconvenient or unpleasant, taking action to fix that which we find sub optimal rather than complaining.  Treating everyone we encounter with respect.

We all fall short of this lofty goal but it is important to be seen trying.  To be seen trying I drive many hours to attend a resident event.  To be seem trying, I am addressing a void in my own skills with additional training.  And to be seen trying, I avoid the appearance of boredom as I listen to many oral presentations. When I am tempted to avoid duty, cut corners or dismiss others, I try to remember, “the children are watching.”

2 Notes

  1. While physicians who are disrespectful to others likely do have a higher likelihood of sham peer review, it is often those physicians who take care of the most complicated and therefor more costly patients who are often the target. The community I serve has blackballed every gyn oncologist who has attempted to practice away from the main medical center in the nearby large city as well as the surgeons who perform the more complex non-cardiac cases. When the hospital is losing money because your patients are using too many resources, they resort to blackballing. Likewise, any physician who is the victim of a high dollar lawsuit, whether or not they played a role in the adverse outcome, is likely to get blackballed. That includes or especially includes obstetrical cases which are almost never related to intra-partum events. I would guess most sham peer review is not so much related to how the physician treats others as much as having the misfortune of having at least one non-preventable adverse outcome.

  2. “…treating everyone with respect” I kind of smiled as I read this as I just finished a short email to Linda on the fact that one of the most important thing that a Doc can have to prevent the ” sham Peer Review ” is to have manners.

    For those Physicians and Surgeons who have graduated Kindergarten, I do not have to lecture on what manners are. And to include “professional manners” would be a great asset.

    I have spent the last 13 years of my life consulting physicians and surgeons on ” sham peer review “, the abuses of the state medical boards, and other topics. If a physician wants to put me in early retirement, brush up on manners.

    Richard Willner


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