The Challenges of Being A Parent Physician

parent physician andrea paul, md

There is no doubt that becoming a parent comes with many challenges and becoming a parent physician is no exception. While many people might tell you to settle down and wait until after residency to start a family, the truth is, there is no perfect time to have kids. If you’re able to manage your schedule and set aside enough time to give your family the attention they need, then working and being a mother can become second nature.

I was a resident when I had my first child and my second came when I was starting a business. It was a tough adjustment at first, but everyone is juggling multiple obligations (work, family, friends, and activities). I think you learn to prioritize what’s most important in each area and then find ways to try to accomplish what you need to do. Sometimes that may mean not cooking a 3-course gourmet meal, but choosing quality time with your kids over anything else.

Finding Solutions

The most challenging time I faced was when I was working in wound care at a hospital and building BoardVitals, while raising my two young kids. With limited breaks, it made juggling all these things and giving 100% to each extremely difficult. I found that staggering hours with the other parent is really helpful if that’s something you can swing. Otherwise, employing a nanny or seeking out daycare options each come with their own set of benefits (we have tried both).

When to Start a Family

I’ve had healthcare professionals come to me and ask me ‘when is the best time to start a family’? I always tell them to start a family if that’s what they want to do. It’s going to be an adjustment, but if you feel ready to take on that responsibility, then go for it. You will find that your family, friends, and professionals are all available to help you transition, so don’t feel like you have to take on the world alone.

Managing Stress

Looking back on balancing my career and my family life, I probably would have told myself, “It’s going to be okay”. It can be quite stressful at times and can be hard to see that you’re doing fine while you’re in the thick of it. So the best thing you can do is keep a positive mindset and remind yourself that things aren’t always as hard as they seem.

Things get slightly easier as kids get older and are in school, but new challenges like after-school activities and school projects arise. I try to help and participate with these things which allows me to spend more time with my kids. We actively try to focus on spending quality time with them whenever we can.

I certainly could not be as effective a physician, parent and business leader without an incredible support network, a loving family, and lots of childcare – and for that, I’ll always be thankful. But for the young people in medical school and residency wondering, if they have to choose between a career in medicine or a family, I hope they consider that they can do both.