This is a response to the Sunday, June 11th Op-Ed piece in the New York Times - Don't Quit This Day Job by Dr. Karen Sibert.
I’m also a doctor and a mother of four, Dr. Sibert. You are an anesthesiologist, and I chose a different profession – a pediatrician with a specialty in child abuse. But we understand each other’s stressors and how hard we worked to get where we are – both personally and professionally. And I hope you are happy, because I am. You took your board exams in 1987, when I was a junior in high school – so your children are older, and I’m in the thick of the soup of parenting.
I, like you, made the decision to work full time.
Some pieces from your article are important for us all to understand, and I do respect, there is a going to be a doctor shortage, medical education is supplemented by the government. You present a compelling argument and important “big picture” information.
But you are missing the point about what a good doctor is all about. Here’s my take on it, Dr. Sibert:
1. An unhappy, stressed out, unbalanced mother is not going to be an effective doctor. That’s that.
2. No female college student, who decides to be a doctor when she’s still a teenager, can predict what happens in 20 years. Did you know you’d be a mother of four? Did you understand the stressors and work/life balance?
3. What about parents with specific reasons for needing to stay home or work part time – a child with special needs, a partner with another high-powered job.
4. You target the piece at women, and your statistics support your argument. But your words are highly irrational & miss the boat when it comes to real-life decisions mothers and fathers make.
5. I would focus on educating women (and men) on making career CHOICES in medicine that optimize their expectations for family life. I knew I wanted to be a mother, I loved surgery, I did not become a surgeon. That was learned through mentoring. Let’s focus on supporting young women (and men) in the early years of medical training to make the best choices.
With all due respect, as a fellow doctor/mom of four, get real, Dr. Sibert!