19 May 2011
Recently I was asked to take over some of the work of the 3rd year pediatrics clerkship at one of the hospitals where I work. The woman who had been doing this job for many years is taking over from my boss and my boss is moving into a role that I don't really understand but I'm told has to do with development, of what I just can't say. Since my old boss is still in charge of the schedule she remains someone to stay on good terms with, so the balance of power remains generally unchanged. As it should. I fully accept my role as the new kid on the block.
Which is why, when presented with the challenge of taking over the third years (whatever this entails), there was really no way to say no. Just to be sure, I asked a friend who does the same thing at another site and was assured that I was correct in this assumption. There are times when you just get pulled further in.
This is not to say that I don't like teaching. I do. And of course I want the medical students at our site to have wonderful experiences. That is how we recruit good people to a field that I think often gets overlooked by some very driven students as being all about holding babies and giving shots.
Now these are both very important parts of pediatrics. In fact, many of the adults cared for by hot shot orthopedic or plastic surgeons wouldn't be alive today to take advantage of their hip replacements and tummy tucks were it not for those vaccines. They would be dead. From meningitis. From swarms of bacteria multiplying in their blood. From measles, which recently enjoyed a little outbreak here on the East coast. And holding babies, well, is just plain delicious fun.
But the truth is, no matter how much I love teaching in theory, I'm not entirely excited about any piece of work that increases my time away from Emmaline. We took a walk today after I got home from the hospital and she put up her soft baby hand for me to hold and I realized there is no piece of the job I do that can even compare to the sweetness of moments like that. Still, you have to make money somehow. You have to buy little pink socks to put on her chubby feet every time the dog chews through another pair. So I do know work is a necessary part of life and I do appreciate that given work's absolute necessity, the job I have is a good fit.
It does make me wonder, though, how we ever get anything done in this world. I'm a fairly driven person. I liked school. I did well at school. I did things like join clubs and take extra homework assignments and sign up for independent study courses, you know, the things that make you generally unpopular at an early age. But now, having gotten to this point, I want nothing more than to cuddle with Emmaline. I'm told this is a hormonal thing, evolutionarily designed to make me not kill her on her particularly obnoxious days. I'm told I'm not alone in this feeling of complete tunnel vision. So how on earth does anyone get anything important done?
I don't have an answer to that. But I am relieved to find that some people actually do get things done. People like Judy Palfrey, who is soon to be appointed a member of the President's Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. I'm guessing she'll say yes. If my boss is hard to say no to, I can't imagine it's any easier to turn down the leader of the free world. And she'll do a wonderful job. She ran with the Olympic torch and I'm told she didn't drop it at all. She even let me hold it, after I elbowed the throngs of excited inner city children out of the way.
So congratulations to all those overachievers out there. And thanks for taking some of the pressure off. It makes it easier to enjoy the afternoons when I do nothing but stack blocks and knock them over again ad infinitum knowing there are good people out there holding down the fort.