Laughing and lunching in cute outfits isn't just for babies
I practice in a large group at an academic hospital, where I might go weeks or months without seeing some of my partners at work. Many of us (including me) work part time, and lots of anesthesiologists in the group wear varied hats that take them to other places such as a clinic, classroom, or research lab vs. the traditional OR setting. Anesthesiologists are a unique breed of physician who practice almost completely alone. While there can commonly be an anesthesiologist taking care of a patient along with a nurse anesthetist, anesthesiologist assistant, or resident physician in training, it would be very rare to see two "bosses" in the same OR together.
The autonomy of practicing anesthesia in the OR paired with the variety of perioperative roles and locations available for anesthesiologists are definite advantages of my specialty, but they can leave us feeling like we're practicing in somewhat of a vacuum. While we may chat in the lounge during lunchtime, we can easily feel isolated. As an introvert, this does not always bother me, but if I have a bad day or just a clinical question I may wish for more support. If you work part time and do all of your own cases like I do, it takes a conscious effort to connect with other physicians. Which is why I'm so grateful that many of the female physicians in my group got together last weekend for a potluck lunch. We do this every once in a while, about on a yearly basis, and I wish we did it more often!
It was so much fun to see these ladies in a different, more casual environment. The blue pajamas and hats were traded for sundresses and sandals, and the conversation turned from patients to children, schools, and summer vacation plans. Resident MDs who have yet to venture into practice ate lunch alongside veteran tenured professors. Many of us are moms, with children ranging from 8 weeks to 19 years old. I learned some useful school information from a few of my colleagues with gradeschool-age girls. It was also interesting to talk to a couple of the ladies who work exclusively in the pain clinic, sharing stories about work environment and frustrations with the medical system. Two babies even made appearances: one wide-eyed, active 11 month old and one brand new infant attached to her mother's breast at the buffet table!
Our Ladies' Lunch experience left me hoping not only to make more social connections with my peers at work, but also to continue making efforts to schedule "girl time" into my life. I know that a lot of moms suffer from the same feelings of needing and yet missing female friendship; I've found that I just have to set reminders and take initiative to schedule meetings with friends, even if it's only for an hour or two at a coffee shop. And despite the drawbacks of filtered experiences and easy comparisons, I feel like this is an area where social media really shines. It helps me to keep up with people that I haven't seen or would otherwise be off of my radar for long periods of time.
How do you keep up friendships and connections with colleagues despite being busy balancing the realms of work, home, community, and self? Let me know your tips by leaving a comment!