#Radparents, You’ve Got This
Recently, I had the honor of speaking at the Tennessee and Kentucky Radiology Society state chapter meeting. State chapter meetings are my favorite: getting to hear about the successes and challenges of colleagues across the country, sharing some of the important work the ACR is doing, and talking about economics and health policy (my other favorite). In addition, this particular state chapter meeting promised and delivered both college basketball and the privilege of sharing a stage with Richard Duszak Jr., MD, FACR. Pretty close to professional nirvana!
There was only one thing missing. Between late shifts and call weekends for my practice and travel for other meetings, I had been away from my three daughters frequently in the preceding weeks. I missed them. And, as if the internal discomfort isn’t enough, every working parent knows that the guilt is inexorable. I love my job, and the fulfillment that I get from being part of a team trying to make a difference for our members and our patients is an essential part of my life. But while most of the time I am good at remembering how important it is for my daughters to see their parents following dreams and pursuing passions, there are times when I worry they don’t really get it. This time, I decided to bring them along. My goal was not just to spend time with them, but also to show them a little bit of what I do, challenge them to seek a profession that really makes them happy, and of course, update them on the Quality Payment Program. In the end, the weekend held more life lessons for me than for them.
The first came from my oldest who stayed behind to play in a basketball tournament. Before we left, she handed me a small Tupperware container filled with strips of paper bearing sweet messages. My favorite was a simple one: “I want to be just like you.” This, from my drama-queen 10-year-old who always asks me if I have to go and has even thrown out the stinging “Why can’t you be like the other moms?” Of all those moments of second-guessing myself, this one offered a little reassurance that just maybe I was doing something right.
No day-in-the-life of mom is accurate without flight delays, so for the full experience American Airlines happily obliged and delayed our first flight so that we were left with seven minutes and three-quarters of a mile of terminal to traverse to make the connection. Not one to admit defeat, I told the girls we were going to make a run for it. These short-legged people of mine somehow maintained a sprint as if there was an Olympic gold waiting for them. Afterwards, I asked my 5-year-old incredulously if she had gotten tired running and she responded, panting, “Yes! But I just kept my eyes on you and told my feet to keep going.” Life can be overwhelming. Sometimes, my flagged email list, my PACS worklist, and my home to-do list seem daunting. But if we stay focused on our goals and just keep moving forward, we’ll get there. There may be a moving target, just as we realized when we arrived at the gate two minutes too late. Accepting that our goals may be fluid and expectations adjustable is sometimes as important as goal-setting in the first place.
The first words out of my 7-year-old’s mouth when we walked into the meeting room for breakfast were, “Why are there so many boys here?” Before I could answer, our table of male radiologists enthusiastically explained to her that right now there are more boys than girls in radiology, but we are working really hard to change that. One after another they told my daughter that girls like her and her sisters could grow up to do anything they wanted and, because they were so smart and talented, we really want more of them in our profession. Instead of being treated like unprofessional nuisances, they were asked about what books they were reading, shown secret donut stashes, and taught magic tricks. In a world rife with concerns about misogyny and inequality, I have found radiology to be a wonderful career as a woman and these Tennessee and Kentucky radiologists knocked it out of the park exemplifying this truth of our profession to my daughters.
Finally, as I was about to leave to give my series of talks, I kissed the girls and got them settled with a sitter borrowed from a local friend. The youngest kissed me back and said with a decisive head nod, “You’ve got this mom.” So for all of you #radparents who second guess yourselves and worry you’re not doing enough, take it from my preschooler: You’ve got this.
By Lauren P. Golding, MD, of Triad Radiology Associates in Winston-Salem, N.C.