Tuesday, June 24, 2014

To blog or not to blog?

I confess that it's been awhile since I posted here.
I confess that this has happened before.
Should I throw in the towel? End the blog? Force myself to crank out posts?

I feel like I still have a lot to say, and I'm trying to figure out why I haven't been here much lately. True, my work with American Family Physician is taking up the time I used to spend on this blog. True, I am in the middle of yet another job transition. True, most days I'm just running on autopilot, ticking the boxes of responsibilities, waiting for my life to fall back into some semblance of normalcy.

I should know better by now! As much as I long for stability, I am coming to grips with the fact that these are not givens in academic medicine. Virtually all of the classmates I trained with have gone through at least one (if not two or three) job transitions in the last five years. Medicine is trying to reinvent itself, and we are all trying to figure out what role we want to play.

And yet, again, I am not comfortable divulging all of the gory details regarding my latest career upheaval. I wish, sometimes, that I was as brave as those medical bloggers who share so much of their personal life. Alas, I am not and will not be them. I don't want this blog to die, yet I don't know how to keep it alive when I am unwilling to share the stories that are consuming me right now.

I know that there are many medical bloggers who are busier than I am and make time for their blogs. It is true that I am not prioritizing this blog as I once did. I'd like to believe that I will again in the future, but will anyone still be around to read it when I do?

Do I put the blog on life support or hospice?

Friday, May 16, 2014

After the conference

I attended the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) annual meeting last week, and, as usual, I left with a lot of great ideas and inspirations for things to try in our residency program and in my practice. Unfortunately, I have yet to review those ideas and inspirations and do anything with them, which is also as usual. I hate to think that everything from that conference will quickly be lost if I don't apply it, but I know from past experience that it will.

Attending conferences is a great way to learn from others, gain new skills, and expand your horizons. I love the networking and inspiration I also often come away with after attending a Family Medicine conference. I just wish I could figure out a way to not lose all of that great energy and motivation once I get back to the daily routine at home.

I think I'm making some strides. For the last couple of years, I've live-tweeted every session I attend at a conference. Not only does that help disseminate ideas outside of the physical conference, but it also leaves me with virtual notes of everything that I thought was interesting that I can review afterwards. The piece that is missing is making the time to do after I leave.

So, this year, I'm blocking out time in my schedule next week to review all of those tweets and compile a "to do" list from what I learned. In the future, I should probably block that time out before I even leave. I'm working hard to be a lot more deliberate about how I spend my time anyway (fodder, perhaps, for a future post!), and this approach seems to fit into that general idea pretty well. But I'd definitely welcome any and all suggestions!

After all, I invested too much time and energy into attending to lose all of those good ideas.

Friday, April 25, 2014

An alternative to "Do you have kids?"

*National Infertility Awareness Week 2014*
(For our story with infertility, read here.)

The question "do you have kids?" might seem innocent, but it can be a heart-wrenching one for couples struggling with infertility. Well-meaning people have asked this question of my husband and me many times, but our "no" answer seems to effectively end the conversation. "No" is not the answer most question-askers expect of a couple in their late 30s, and I suspect that it leaves them feeling as awkward as we do.

The main problem with "do you have kids?" is that assumes a "yes" or "no" response. A "yes" answer leads to all kinds of follow-up questions; it continues the conversation. A "no" answer, in my experience, usually leads to silence. And, frankly, the people asking this question are typically acquaintances, and thus not necessarily people that we want to open up to about our experience with infertility (at least not yet).

I'd like to propose an alternative that doesn't limit itself to a "yes" or "no" answer but still allows for relationship-building:

"Tell me about your family."

This statement is open-ended; couples with children will certainly share details about their progeny. But by not limiting the question specifically to kids, those without children (this might include single adults, couples who don't want kids, and/or LGBT couples, too) have the opportunity to provide a positive response. Some might talk about their parents, their pets, those friends who really are family, etc. Some might even say something along the lines of "oh, I'd rather not. They're quite crazy!"

No matter what the response, conversation can continue to flow.  Infertile couples don't have to provide a negative response, and the positive response can even remind us that our lives are defined by more than just our infertility.

So, next time you're tempted to ask someone if they have kids, try asking them to tell you about their family instead.