As I entered the physicians’ parking lot, I rehearsed the conversation I was dreading. This was the day I would quit my job. It was my first job out of residency, and I loved my coworkers, but I had to quit. I was frustrated and dissatisfied after being overlooked for a directorship. It was time to move on, wasn’t it?
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 35 – No 09 – September 2016
I started medical school with high hopes of advocating for physicians and patients while contributing to my field through administration. Choosing emergency medicine as a specialty came naturally. The pathology, pace, and intensity spoke to me, but I was well aware of some of its challenges.
I made a conscious effort to expand my residency training beyond medicine and took advantage of leadership opportunities. As a new attending physician, I assertively took on labor-intensive projects from my medical director in hopes of furthering my career. I spent my days off in meetings and was involved with medical societies. As the lone full-time female in my group, I took pride in my work.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was immediately afraid of having to choose between this career I had nurtured and the family I was ready to start. For 20 weeks, I wondered whether I would be judged by the size of my belly or by the dedication I maintained while pregnant.
In less than two years, PMG has grown to 60,000 members! The group has served as a resource of mentorship, professional development, clinical education, and social support.
When I finally made the announcement, I found myself promising a short maternity leave and reassuring my partners that I would maintain my hours. I worked until 38 weeks and had my C-section the following week. I returned from my maternity leave when my daughter was five weeks old, hoping to prove that my loyalty had not wavered.
While on maternity leave, a new male partner was promoted to a position that I thought would be mine. My involvement in administration not only had prepared me for this role, but I believed I was “next in line.” I wondered whether it was being a woman or becoming a mother that caused me to lose this opportunity. Feeling shocked and confused, I concluded that if I wanted to advance, I would need to start elsewhere.
Then, the negative voice in my head got me thinking that maybe there was another reason I was overlooked. Perhaps I wasn’t an effective leader, or I was missing a key element required for advancement. Maybe I didn’t deserve the promotion.
That voice was still with me later as I sat in my medical director’s office. I decided to take a chance and stray from my rehearsed goodbye. I asked, “Why was I not considered for the director’s role?”
CREATING A NEW CULTURE
A confused expression stared back at me. Following a brief pause, he answered that he wasn’t aware of my interest. He assumed that as a new parent I wouldn’t want the added responsibilities. He assured me that there were no doubts about my performance. The rest of the conversation was one we should have had much earlier in my career. After discussing my goals, we developed a plan and within the year I found myself in a director’s role.