Two Fall features resonated with readers. A working parent "loved" an article on work-family balance. And an alum who has experience doing international work called a recent graduate's description of the challenges of delivering care abroad "spot-on."
"Series of sacrifices"
I loved the article "Dr. Mom & Dad" in the Fall issue of Dartmouth Medicine, about families in which both parents are doctors struggling to balance work and parenting. I especially enjoyed Dr. Angela Sanchez's comment that balance is a series of sacrifices—that you often must shortchange something, whether time with your child, housework, personal time, or work. "It's very, very difficult to do all those things well," she said, "so you figure out what you have to sacrifice that day."
Like many working parents, I strive to be a "perfect" worker and loving parent simultaneously; I secretly imagine that other parents miraculously succeed at this! The fact that even doctors struggle with balancing work and parenting made me feel ever so much better about my own challenges. Since reading this article, every time I must ignore a pile of laundry, work late and miss my children, or leave work to attend a teacher conference, I just say, "I can't do it all perfectly, all at the same time."
Many of today's parents were not raised with both parents working outside the home, so we don't have role models for balancing our lives. Nor has society caught up: parental work schedules and school hours don't match; backup sick-child care or vacation care may be unavailable. And when both parents work, someone still needs to be home to meet the plumber!
I know talented women (and some men) who have solved this dilemma by quitting salaried jobs to freelance or consult, but this is a great loss to employers in productivity, talent, and dollars. Our society and work culture need to continue evolving to better help employees balance work and life. Options like compressed workweeks, telecommuting, flexible hours, and job-sharing are concepts that savvy employers are increasingly offering to retain employees and increase loyalty. This is a win-win situation for both employers and employees.
Clearly, your article struck a chord. I sent it to my sisters—both of whom are working physicians, one with a family and one planning to have one. Many thanks to those profiled in the piece for sharing their insights.
A world of difference
I really enjoyed the Fall issue's cover article, about DMS's cooperative program in Tanzania. Having had some international health experience myself, I'm always intrigued when the magazine brings such sagas to light. Dr. Cara Mathews's well-written article was spot-on in reflecting the unrelenting difficulties of getting even the simplest things done—things we take for granted in the U.S., such as showing up at work or for a meeting without being a sweaty mess, and actually finding someone else there as they said they'd be.
A speaker at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—reflecting on cultural differences to a volunteer group I was once part of—put it this way: "You are all coming from a very results-oriented society and going to work in societies that are predominantly relationship-oriented." Dr. Mathews's comment that struggling to get through a normal, simple day made her "feel like an elderly person" was a perfect counterpoint to her implied amazement that Tanzanian patients with HIV have the resilience and courage to navigate such obstacles on a daily basis even while seriously ill.
My own experiences were ones in which I ended up with the conflicting desires of wanting to hug these very lovely people and dedicate my life to bettering theirs, versus wanting to wring their necks and get home ASAP.
Kudos to Dr. Mathews for her continued desire to try to share her expertise in challenging international settings and for her ability to concisely reflect the challenges for your readers.
Drew Remignanti, M.D., M.P.H.
Dartmouth College '75
Murals for the ages
I recently learned of the death of Sol Levenson, the fine artist who produced a number of large murals for the corridors of Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center. When I was still teaching at DMS, I frequently watched him at work and admired his unusual skill.
I hope the murals are still in place, for they added much to the ambience of what can be a threatening environment for patients awaiting chemotherapy or surgery.
John Radebaugh, M.D.
The murals are still very much in place. See this article for more about Levenson and his artistic legacy.
Essence of caring
I was recently trying to find Dr. Ann-Christine Duhaime on the internet. In my search, I found your Fall 2005 profile of her. I broke down and cried while reading it, it was such an accurate description.
Dr. Duhaime was my daughter's doctor from 1993 until she left Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I miss her tremendously. Three neurosurgeons have been assigned to my daughter's case since then and none have lived up to her standards. The article absolutely captured her essence, and I thank you for publishing it. I hope your hospital appreciates her as much as I did.
Mary Ann D'Oria
Hamilton Township, N.J.
To read the profile of Duhaime, go to this article.
Cover to cover
As a public guardian for the Vermont Agency of Human Services, I accompany clients to DHMC about once a month and have done so for about 15 years. Whenever I'm there, the first thing I do is look for a copy of your magazine to take home, and I read it from cover to cover. Would you please add my name to your mailing list?
Sedney R. Ulrich
Hyde Park, Vt.
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