Moments You Can’t Get Back

Paternity leave is a less common request for residents, but for Kevin Dueck, MD, the time off was invaluable for bonding with his three young children. Dr Dueck, now 33 and a resident in the family medicine program at McMaster University in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, knew early on that he didn’t want to wait until after medical training to start his family.

The first of his three children with his wife, Kim, was born 6 weeks before he started medical school. The second was born in his third year of school. This year, his third child was born in July, when Dr Dueck was supposed to start residency. He decided to arrange paternity leave for more than 6 months, beginning in January, and pushed back his start date until August. His program was very supportive, he said, adding that senior faculty told him, “I wish that had been available when I had young children.”

Dr Dueck says he gets congratulated for taking time off, and he’s uncomfortable with that because women don’t often get the same congratulations. Time off should not be seen as unusual for either sex, he says. The delay put him off cycle, so he will need to find work to fill a 4-month gap after graduation if he wants to pursue fellowship training.

He acknowledges that there has been little time for social activities outside those with family, and he has had to learn to say “no” to some professional projects and meetings. However, he says that’s a small price to pay for quality bonding time, to fully celebrate his children’s birthdays, ride bikes, take family excursions, and spend time at home with his family, before medical responsibilities compete for his attention. “Those are moments you can’t get back,” he says.

He adds that his experience as a young father helps him as a doctor. “Taking leave and having a family has helped with connecting with patients, especially those expecting or with young children. I’ve found having that lived experience to be an asset in clinic,” he said.

Excerpt from Marcia L. Frellick. Taking Leave in Residency: Tips and Traps – Medscape – Dec 08, 2017 [LINK]

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Year in Review – 2017

Finished my last shift for the year doing consults in the Emergency Department and even had enough time to grab a coffee and use the bathroom, so not too bad…  Today we enjoyed Christmas as a family and tomorrow we head off for a large family gathering.

This last year was unique as I took over 6 months of paternity leave before returning to residency in August.  It was great to have that time with my family and some time for myself.

Back in February a call went out from in-House for reflections on the first year of residency and I thought being on leave was something different, so I wrote a short reflection.  It was well received and has since been reposted to KevinMD and lead to my being interviewed on a CanadiEM podcast along with a Medscape article (free registration required for full article).  Glad to see people are receptive to my perspective on taking leave and making family a priority.

This year I also became more involved in the Health Humanities.  From February to October I was the Humanities Intern at CMAJ and was involved in peer review, development of a rubric for evaluating submissions, and help to develop the new Graphic Medicine section. In addition, I had a short comic published on in-House, my poem Handsome Cat was published, and a number of older pieces of writing found venues for publication.

The time off also gave me a chance to do some reading, some mentioned in a previous post. I also took a few courses including a Joule self-awareness/leadership course and a few continuing faculty development courses through U of Toronto (mentorship, teaching health humanities, etc.).  These would be far more difficult to fit into my schedule during residency or when in practice, so it was nice to explore some of my interests during the break.

After many months at home and family time including trips to Niagara Falls, I headed back to residency in the fall and joined the incoming R1 cohort. As expected I was a bit slow the first few days and found that my DDx was narrowed.  Things have gone well since and I’ve completed blocks of Hospitalist, ER, OB/Gyn, and just started my block of General Internal Medicine.  With my being off schedule my R2 year of Family Medicine starts in a few months and have 2 large exams in the coming year.  Still not sure if I will do a +1 year, but am trying to arrange things to continue my involvement in the medical humanities.

Thanks everyone that has followed my journey in medicine via the blog and my Twitter @AbootMedicine over the last few years.

 

The Hidden Curriculum Narrative

During an interview for residency I was asked about my previous article about the hidden curriculum. I spoke of the lessons outside the textbooks and lectures; lessons of hierarchy, role modeling, and more. The interviewer then asked about if there were positive aspects of the hidden curriculum. I told a story from clerkship and recently made a comic about that experience. It was recently published on in-House and is my first attempt at graphic medicine. Enjoy: Lessons

The Human Touch

Western recently put out a collection of poetry, writing, photography, and visual art from its medical students. Great to see the work of peers and those in the years above and below me.  The collection includes two of my works. Learning From Experience was previously posted elsewhere, a piece of visual art about the sacrifices of patients for our learning.  The other piece, Solo, is about my first time skydiving.

Being There

“After breakfast, we all get dressed, I pack my daughter’s lunch, and the three of us suit up for the trek to the bus stop. March 2 marks one year since CaRMS Match Day, and rather than being on call or spending time in clinic, I’m on paternity leave.”

A reflection on the year since Match Day, priorities, and the decision to take pat leave.  LINK

Part of the in-House s/p The Match series of reflections looking back on the year since Match Day.

*** Reposted as ‘This physician delayed residency to take paternity leave’ on KevinMD

Dangers

I wrote about an encounter with a nurse that was attacked by a patient, an event that stuck with me.  I tried a different style to keep focus away from the doctor and on the patient and their sense of responsibility for the attack.  It was recently accepted and posted by CMAJ Blogs.  Check it out: Link

See Publications for more medical narratives