October 20, 2002 at 1:45 pm #79932
In my ongoing, hopefully exhaustive research into what my med school aspirations will mean for me and my husband and any future kids we may have, I’m hoping to get some info about what life is like for residents with kids. Do you find that you are ever going days without seeing your family? How is this affecting your marriage/kids and how you feel about what you are doing? What are some coping mechanisms you’ve discovered to overcome the difficulty of your schedule?
34October 21, 2002 at 6:19 am #79933rydysParticipant
There are definitely times that I feel like I haven’t seen my family in a long time. However, I chose to come to New York for residency because of the Bell commission, which limits resident hours. In practical terms this means that I can’t work more than 24 hours in a row (plus a few hours for sign-outs, lectures, etc.) so whenever I’m on call I have the next day off. We have turned these days into family days. I usually try to sleep some and get some errands done while everyone is at school (and I send my baby to the babysitter because I don’t want to mess up her schedule), but once the kids come home I’m theirs. Early on in residency I stopped counting how many days I am on call and started counting how many days I have off in a month. As a matter of fact, now that I’m almost done, I’m trying to figure out when I’ll be able to run my errands if I’m working every day of the week!
RivkaOctober 22, 2002 at 12:04 am #79935snsParticipant
Do the residency programs really stick to the rules regarding hours? Or have they found creative ways around them?October 23, 2002 at 1:34 am #79937
Thank you so much for your reply.
How do you recover from being on call 24 hours? I would think it would take more than a day to make up for the long shift. I don’t sleep much, but I would think irregular sleep patterns would really throw me off. How does it affect you?
Sorry for the barrage of questions, but here’s one more. How many 24 hours shifts do you have per week? Are they interspersed with somewhat more normal work days?
Age 34October 26, 2002 at 5:19 am #79938psychParticipant
When I was a resident we actually worked longer shifts (not being in NY and before the current ACGME recommendations) ie working 730am – 5pm the next day. If you get a few hours of sleep it’s not as bad, but if no sleep it was pretty rough. I think it’s most destabilizing for people with a history of major depression or bipolar disorder, but it’s hard on everybody. You just end up functioning tired most of the time. Of course a lot of stay at home moms are functioning tired most of the time too. The hardest part for me was when I was a first year resident. My typical hours if I wasn’t on call were 730-630, with me working incredibly hard to get done by 630 so I could get home before my son went to bed at 7pm. And I usually woke him to take him to day care at 7am, so that was a very brief interaction. That was really hard. I’d pick him up as soon as I could get off postcall (sometime between noon and 5 usually) and that would be a special time. We would also spend all weekend together. My husband was the primary parent that year — he picked up Ben from daycare and fed him dinner every day, and put him to bed if I wasn’t home by 7. But I had been home with Ben for a year already, so he was very “securely attached”, and even though I think he missed me, it still went fine. He liked his daycare and thrived. And he clearly knew me. If I was on call on a weekend, my husband would bring him in for lunch or supper so we could say hi. And I taught him early that Mommy’s work had a special treat. He still knows that my office has a blue box that has candy in it, and he always asks for it when he comes to visit. I think it’s really important to include your kids in your work.
The only really bad time we had during residency was my ER night rotation. That was a month of 8pm-9am weekday shifts. It was gruesome and destabilizing, but it was most awful because it wrecked our home routine. I couldn’t take Ben to daycare in the morning. I picked him up and fed him dinner, but then I had to leave before putting him to bed (which by then was 8pm). He definitely showed the strain then (age 3), with a lot more acting up and crying. Things got better pretty quickly once that month was over, but I hated it.
The other worst thing is when your child gets sick. I felt so worried about making the other residents cover for me that I never missed a day during residency for illness. In retrospect, that was stupid. I covered for other people. But we used a sick child day care, or my husband stayed home if Ben was really sick and we didn’t want to send him there. It’s still the hardest part of working and being a mom, but it was particularly awful during residency. Those were the only times I really questioned whether I should be doing it. But now I’m so glad I stuck with it. I love what I do and I love my kids. Good luck!October 27, 2002 at 10:41 pm #79940
Psych, that was totally helpful, exactly the kind of information I needed to hear. It does sound horrendous but you made it, and it sounds like everyone survived just fine. I guess it’s important to remember that it is only temporary, and kids can bounce back from the experience of not seeing you that often. It’s a shame to think about missing out on things they did for those years, but I guess it’s part of every working parent’s compromise.
I think that anybody who had no choice but to work such long hours would have a hard time of it and have cause for depression not to mention self-questioning. :confused: I just hope that preparing myself mentally will help me get through it, and if one day I am fortunate enough to have a child I hope I’ll be able to balance things as nicely as you seem to have done.
Thanks for much for sharing your experience.
NickiNovember 11, 2002 at 3:39 pm #79941CaLiGirL:)Participant
This is such an interesting topic. I was just wondering if there were anyone else out there that can provide us with some useful information!
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