A Pregnancy That Gave Meaning To Medicine

Posted by Shalini Sahai on May 3, 2017
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[Below are some of my comments as the last Healing+T circle.  Prior to holding the mic, I had no idea this is what I was going to share -- but the collective energy of the group was having its effect on me. :)]

I work as a pediatric doctor in a large HMO and I've been working there for over 10 years now. 

I'm sure some of you will probably identify with this. When you come out of medical school and then residency, you have this vision of saving people.  You're intubating patients and you're giving lifesaving medications and you're doing tracheotomies and whatnot -- to actually save people's lives.

After I did my pediatric residency, I wanted to do a fellowship but I was so burned out by my residency that I decided to take a year off.  Then somehow I landed this job and started working as a community pediatric doctor. About two years into my practice I had this great sense of unease, dis-ease, and not able to identify with what I'm doing. 

I wanted to save lives. And I was not saving lives. 

I thought of myself as a PR doctor, public relations position. I was just giving advice. The maximum I was doing was treating ear infections and if I was lucky a pneumonia. So I had this great dis-ease within myself.  "I'm not doing what I should do." "This is not the potential for a doctor."  So I started applying for fellowships and got into an infectious disease fellowship, at a children's hospital. 

Then, I found out I was pregnant. I had been trying to have a baby for quite a few years.  It was not, how should I put it ...  it was very precious.  This pregnancy didn't come easily to me.  I had to re-evaluate everything.  Should I have my baby in the middle of my fellowship?  How would I deal with that?  

In the end, I decided to drop the fellowship and I had my baby. I don't know if it was the right decision to make but I was happy with it.

As a result, I've stayed with my practice and I no longer consider myself as a PR doctor.  I think I have a very valuable role to play and I'm very, very grateful for the role that my patients allow me to play in their lives. I don't know how much value I provide for them, but I do know how much meaning they have given to my life.  No matter how I feel when I walk into my clinic, I always walk out feeling great.

This has been an invaluable shift.

I was reading the recent DailyGood article about Viktor Frankl on how giving meaning to your life is perhaps the most important thing.  And yes, being a doctor gives meaning to my life. This PR job that I do treating ear infections and pneumonias and being a part of the kids' lives from the time they are born to the time they graduate and go to college, is now very, very meaningful to me.

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Comments (3)

  • Nisha Srinivasan wrote ...

    The inner shift you experienced as a new mother is a precious share. Thank you Shalini!

  • Larry Hulbert wrote ...

    Hi Shalini, I appreciated very much what you shared last night during our first Laddership Circle and woke up this morning reflecting on our conversation. Most importantly, I want to make sure you did not feel like my comments were framed in a "you should have" ...manner. In fact, I learned so much more by your sharing that you chose not to intrude on that woman's crying and instead chose to respect her privacy. There is clearly no right or wrong with this situation and there is learning either way.
    Thank you for your openess and for the generous way in which you engaged in the first leg of our journey.
    I look forward to getting to know you and everyone of our colleagues in the weeks to come.

  • johnsmith wrote ...

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