Letter to the Editor
I realize this may be somewhat controversial, but some thought might be given to the fact that articles like “Parenthood or Medicine? It Shouldn't Be a Choice” illustrate not that emergency medicine is flawed or that to be happy every institution must conform to our needs. (EMN 2017;39:6; http://bit.ly/2sXNZyO.)
If you are an emergency physician, you know inherently that is not possible. Instead, perhaps we should consider our life choices. An interesting book by Suzanne Vender, How to Choose a Husband, addresses some of the challenges that our culture has thrust upon women. Pursuing careers and trying to make certain institutions like medicine fit into how today's culture sees the world has brought significant pain to many people.
We haven't set women free; rather, they now serve much more vicious masters: time and money. Certainly many families feel the pain of mothers trying to fulfill both roles with equal expertise while suffering terrible “mommy guilt” when significant events occur in their families' lives. In the end, it's a choice. Those natural mothering tendencies don't have to disappear when you become a physician, but you can plan a little differently so that you can experience the richness and fulfillment of both. While you can't reasonably expect everything simultaneously, with planning and pragmatism you can have both, in their season at their time.
If you're planning to tilt your lance at a windmill, maybe take on the lie that women should be everything all the time to everyone. Be a mom, be a wife, be a doctor, but each in its season. Don't expect to do them all simultaneously with expert ability and no pain. It's in very few women's nature, and there's almost always pain.
As Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, “The happiest people I have known have been those who gave themselves no concern about their own souls, but did their uttermost to mitigate the miseries of others.”
Geoffrey Martin, MD