After my second child was born, I realized a harsh truth: I could not be everything to everyone. It took me almost 30 years to understand this. I was working as a full-time physician with unpredictable hours. I was trying desperately to make it all work; juggling hospital burdens with the ever-demanding job of being a mother. I grew up with a mom who was everyone’s mother. As one of the few ...

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I am a cardiac anesthesiologist. I want to explain what anesthesiologists do, who we are, and why it is important for the public to know. Anesthesiologists are physicians. Anesthesiologists are the guardians of the operating room. Anesthesiologists are leaders. If you get in a car accident, we are there. If you develop an infection and can’t breathe, we are there. If you are having a heart attack, we are there. If you need a new knee or ...

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As a woman in medicine, where the odds for pay, promotion, and leadership are stacked against me, I feel obligated to light the path for younger women who come behind me.  It has taken me a while to be comfortable with my style of leadership, own my own voice, be able to regroup after rejection, and tolerate feeling on display and yet often invisible. I wish someone would have told me the following ...

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My heart broke a little this week. When you want to grow a muscle, you have to damage it first. You have to lift something heavy and overextend it. It’s sore for a few days -- and then it grows stronger. That is what happened to my heart. My oldest son started high school. I got up early to exercise and was running back to the house to have a quick cup of ...

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I am writing this from the perspective of a woman physician in academic medicine. I am a mid-career cardiac anesthesiologist who works in several national organizations and serve on various committees and boards. I have learned a lot from serving in national medical societies, made great friends this way, and been able to feel a sense of accomplishment in being a part of change within my specialty. That is why I ...

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There are moments as an anesthesiologist you can’t erase. No matter how long you go home and sleep, or how many days pass, you won’t forget it. All of these moments involve saying goodbye; while the scenarios change, the message is the same. It is sacred, like watching the exchanging of vows. They are precious, real, moments, where you want to freeze time, let the embraces, the hugs, go on and on, but the ability to say hello again ...

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I looked at my life through the lens of an outsider: It looked pretty good. Funding. Presentations. Publications. Great job, and a great family. Check, check, check. I looked at my life through my own lens, an insider: a mess. Exhaustion. Absent from my closest relationships. Chronically feeling like I was dropping the ball, because I was. Unhealthy. Not enough sleep, or exercise, or joy. Apathy. This was me, four years ago, ...

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Recently I was saying goodnight to my oldest son, who is now 14 and about to enter high school. I was standing in his bedroom looking at his midnight blue walls, which are covered in each of the planets. He looked up at me from his Pottery Barn bunk bed and said, “Mom, I need a new bed … and new walls.” I stared at him, realizing my son was no ...

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“Yes, you are like that,” said my husband one night as I was lamenting criticism I had heard about myself that day. “I am?” I asked, shocked, a little hurt, and angry. “You are, “ he replied. “Everyone who knows you knows this.” Gulp. No one likes to hear criticism. Our lives are so busy, so over-extended, that stopping to hear that something we said or did upset or annoyed someone is ...

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I was recently interviewed by someone on the topic of clinician burnout. The interviewee asked me how I respond to those who say that burnout does not exist, is being overstated, or is the result of a weaker generation of practicing physicians. I find this difference in opinion interesting. Most of the time, when a physician complains to me about the focus on clinical burnout, they are 1) of an older ...

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