Just Another Easy Day as an EP-Mom : Emergency Medicine News

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Just Another Easy Day as an EP-Mom

Borhart, Joelle MD

Emergency Medicine News 45(5):p 25, May 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000935696.30587.15

    Life is paradise where things run smoothly and no one complains

    emergency physician, mother, work-life balance, children, sleep, hospital, ED

    I am a full-time academic emergency physician and mother of two small children, and I am often asked about work-life balance and if it's possible to have it all. Of course, it is not only possible, but it's also easy! A typical day looks something like this:

    As a clinical nocturnist, my workday doesn't begin until nighttime. Any time during the day spent in meetings, writing papers, mentoring students and residents, and answering emails is really “me time.” I'm thankful for the flexibility to attend to endless work tasks, exercise, mediation, reflection, housework, friends, and family before my actual workday even begins.

    After a full day of focusing on myself, I leave the house to pick up my two small children who conveniently attend different schools located 25 minutes apart. Once home, I gather all the ingredients for one of our typical locally sourced, gluten-free, vegan meals. My daughter comments that the gray, plant-based meatloaf I shaped into a dinosaur looks especially appealing—she's always full of compliments. It is a joy to make healthy dinners from scratch and watch my kids devour every bite.

    Knowing how important sleep is before a night shift, my husband encourages me to go right to bed after dinner and says he'll clean up everything. My kids insist they don't need anything from me, and I know my husband looks forward to doing the entire bedtime routine himself, so I reluctantly go upstairs and lie down. I fall asleep immediately and wake up hours later completely refreshed. Everyone is soundly sleeping in their beds when I leave; it's wonderful not having to worry about anyone at home while I'm at work.

    I use the drive to the hospital to catch up on EM podcasts. I can listen and comprehend at 10 times the normal podcast speed, so I am able to breeze through half a year of CME in less than 30 minutes.

    Efficient Hospital System

    I arrive for my shift, and my colleague has everything tied up and nothing to sign out. No new patients are waiting to be seen, so I have time to visit with all my patients from the past three shifts who are still boarding in the ED. They regale me with their busy adventures since being admitted, and I hear about all the tests, procedures, and consults that have already occurred. They are so thankful for being slotted into the efficient hospital cogwheel. You're welcome!

    Finally, a new patient arrives to be seen, and he has one of my favorite chief complaints: possible compartment syndrome of the lower extremity. This is such fun because the lower extremity overlaps with so many surgical specialties—orthopedics, plastic surgery, vascular surgery, general surgery, and podiatry—and I get to engage them all. After a brief, collaborative discussion with all the surgeons at the bedside, the surgeons decide that the best place for this patient with a potential surgical emergency is on the medicine service. Of course, the hospitalist agrees that this makes complete sense and readies a bed immediately.

    The rest of the shift flies by in a blur of fixable, satisfying emergencies including acute urinary retention, shoulder dislocation, nursemaid's elbow, and a foreign body removal, to name a few. My colleague arrives 15 minutes early, and I'm all set to leave a little early too because I have everything wrapped up. Just as I am about to walk out, EMS arrives from a mass casualty event actively coding six patients. I know my colleague would enjoy the opportunity to stretch and see just how many active codes she can run at once, but I offer to stay and help. I quickly check in at home, and my husband assures me that it's no problem at all if I'm not home for several hours; he is happy to get the kids dressed, make breakfast, pack lunches, and drop off both kids on his own.

    In no time at all, we've successfully stabilized all the coding patients and admitted them to open ICU beds. As I walk out of the department, I pass a large group of new nurses arriving for orientation. This is a little surprising because we're always fully staffed, but I know people are clamoring for health care jobs, so it's great we can find space for extra nurses should they ever be needed. Once home, I start another huge load of laundry—more “me time”—and look forward to another shift tonight.

    Dr. Borhartis the associate program director and an associate professor of emergency medicine at Georgetown University Hospital & Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter@joelleborhart.

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