Saturday, May 31, 2008

overcoming loneliness

It is an amazing, if at times, terrifying, experience to move to a rural practice after residency in a major children's hospital. My first few months here were spent studying for the boards, getting to know my organization, the paperwork, etc. However, after about six months, the loneliness set in. Not personal, but professional. I would attend meetings at our local hospital and with the whole organization I work for, and I'd be looked upon as a bit of an oddball, which I might be, but you know what I mean! Why would I want to work with kids and their annoying parents? What was wrong with me? Of course, I look upon all of them and wonder the same thing! Obviously, my readers likely understand why I chose pediatrics. Who else gets feathers and interesting stones from five year old boys? Who else gets to dance around the office with a giggling two year old? But that's beside the point!

I make it a point to attend CME meetings, rather than only online CMEs. This is gratifying because I feel energized after a meeting, and it's pleasant hanging around with other pediatricians for a few days. I have also been fortunate enough to have another opportunity come up. As a member of the Section on Young Physicians, the SOYP, I received an email that the section was looking for people to run for the executive committee. The election was to be by district. I jumped at the chance, and to my great surprise, I was elected to the post.

I now am involved with the AAP on a national level, as well as at a district level and state. My first task was to attend the District VIII District Meeting. What a great experience! My district is the largest in country, and it includes NM, CO, UT, AZ, WY, MT, ID, OR, WA, NV, Hawaii, Alberta, BC, AK, and Uniformed Services West, so the district meeting brings to gather a variety of pediatricians from all types of settings. They discussed resolutions, chapter triumphs and challenges, and we had the opportunity to meet the candidates for AAP president. What an incredible treat! I felt so much more connected after the meeting. The SOYP executive committee itself is an inspiring group of docs, and I feel honored to be a part of them.

The bottom line is, I now I have a group of pediatricians across the country that I feel I am a part of. I also feel that I am an active member of the AAP, not just one who pays dues and gets monthly journals. This is something that I hope to keep up with, even when I get too old for the SOYP (which is sooner than I care to think), and even when I eventually leave TorC to join a practice with other pediatricians and professional loneliness is not such an issue.

For any of you who are not familiar with the SOYP, we are the largest section in the AAP, and we are composed of members who are in their first five years of practice and/or under 40. Here is a link to our website:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

off the subject

When people come visit New Mexico, it seems they often go straight to Santa Fe and/or Taos. These towns have a lot of to offer in terms of history, culture, interesting architecture, and much more. However, the state has much more to offer the interested traveler, especially the pueblos of the Native Americans. I bring this up because I went to a gallery in the northern area of Albuquerque, the Bien Mur Indian Market Center in the Sandia Pueblo. Their website,, is a good starting point. I bring this up not to advertise for this market, but to tell you about an experience I had there. Periodically, there are artists who come to the gallery and work on their art as people stroll through. This particular Memorial Day weekend, a Navajo artist by the name of Hosteen Etsitty was there. He does sand painting, an art form I had never been particularly enchanted by. However, I was drawn to the table where he was working so quietly and methodically on a complex painting with an incredible array of colors. His son was next to him, also working on a sand painting, though much simpler in content. We started talking to Mr. Etsitty about his work, and he explained the symbolism most eloquently. He talked about the spirituality of the world and our spirituality. He talked about interesting art shows he has done with Buddhist monks who also do a form of sand painting called mandala; he talked of his journey as an artist, starting with training from his elders starting at 17. Rarely have I heard an artist be able to describe the spirit of a work, not just the symbolism behind it (Wynton Marsalis is an example of one who has that gift). However, what struck me most, was the incredible attention his son gave to his father while he was speaking with us. I am sure he has heard his father address the topic of his art and spirituality before, but the obvious respect in his expression was incredible. I grew up being told to respect my elders, but on Monday I saw that in action like I never have before.

The image of the father and son together has stuck with me and inspired me to work on becoming a better listener and to listen beyond the spoken word. I would also love to be able to impress on the teenagers in my practice that their parents may have much more to offer them if they can just listen. I suspect all of this sounds trite, but in the high-speed world we live in, I think it is relevant to think about.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

we're off!!

Thanks for the comments! It's pretty exciting to see that some people have found the blog. Then again, it is somewhat obvious on the PedJobs website! Please do understand that everything in this blog is just my opinion, so I can enjoy saying things like, "Go Red Wings!!!" I'll try to stay away from politics, although as the election draws near, I may not be able resist making some comments.

In my days here in TorC, I take care of children of different ethnicities and widely varying home lives. My staff and I have some frustrating days when people don't show up for appointments, or when phone numbers given on one day have been disconnected the next, but we have learned together to laugh about as much as we can. We also share stories with each other which allows us to blow off steam or to celebrate happy events. I have started to write down some of the funnier ones, so that I can go back and look at them and laugh or cry. One of the reasons my husband and I chose to move here was that we felt it would be the most interesting place to serve my time, and it hasn't disappointed.

I want to share one of the more amusing stories in particular with you. It was during my first few months here. A fifteen year old girl came in with respiratory complaints. Since this was my first time meeting her, I asked if she was a smoker, which she was, about a pack a day. I asked if her parents smoked, which they did, then I asked if her siblings smoked as well, which, of course, they did. Then, being a smart alec, I asked facetiously, "does your dog smoke too?" to which she responded, "she eats the butts we throw on the ground." Yikes. I guess that's what I get for trying to be funny!

Well, I need to stop for the day. I am still getting used to the idea of this blog. Next time, I'll have more to say about some job issues which are quite relevant to me at this stage of my life.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


So, here we go! My first blog post ever. Big, deep breath. I feel like I'm on a first date or a job interview. At least when I'm writing, you can't hear the nervous wobble I get in my voice or see my kneecaps quiver (I didn't know that was anatomically possible until I gave my first presentation at a conference).

Let me give you a little background into my life. I am currently working in Truth or Consequences, NM, as the first and only pediatrician they've ever had in the county. And yes, it really is called that, although locals just call it TorC. It was named after a gameshow in the 50s hosted by Ralph Edwards - the producers put out a challenge to the country that they will film an episode in any town that is willing to change their name to Truth or Consequences, so Hot Springs jumped at the chance. Needless to say, we have a lot of people drive through town just to say they've been here. We also have a large psychiatric population, with some patients telling me they settled here because, "it was time to accept the truth or face the consequences." When I hear this, I think it might be time to go back to the old name. Check out the town website:

Anyway, I digress. I came here because I am a National Health Service Corps scholar, and I had limited job options due to their restrictions. This area qualifies as severely underserved. As such, I have had an amazing, interesting, and at times, quite frustrating experience here. I trained at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, a lovely hospital with lots of pediatricians, all types of specialists, and an incredible staff trained in pediatrics. Then I came here, the only pediatrician for miles and miles, with the nearest pediatric specialists being 150 miles north in Albuquerque, and some specialists 75 miles south in Las Cruces. It's been baptism by fire. Thank goodness for the PALS line at UNM, the internet, and my sister who is a pediatric intensivist at Oakland Children's and who has answered a few desperate phone calls with questions on sick kids!

That's my introduction. I have lots more to say, but I suppose I shall do this in installments, like Hemingway did with his novels in Esquire magazine, not that I am even remotely comparing myself to Papa, ever.

Looking forward to next time!