This article was authored by Riya Chacko, MD, a cardiologist at the Cardiovascular Group of Syracuse in Syracuse, NY, and a member of the ACC Women in Cardiology (WIC) Section.
In fellowship, no one prepares you for the decisions you will face in private practice and certainly not the issues you might face as a young mother. As a result, many young mothers fall out of the workforce. I’ve decided to list a few issues below which I think other young moms and cardiologists should consider before starting private practice:
- Work Setting
Being in private practice does not mean all groups function the same. Here are some options: a) small single-specialty groups b) large single-specialty practices c) academic private practice d) hospital employment and e) multi-specialty groups. The dynamics of each will affect things such as flexibility, call frequency, number of offices/hospitals, salary/productivity, etc. Lastly, it will affect how the group’s decisions are made, by partner vote or hospital administration, for example.
- Female Colleagues
Knowing if you will be the only female cardiologist in the group or one of a few might affect how issues specific to women are addressed such as pumping breastmilk at work, taking maternity leave, working part-time and flexibility for childcare.
- Part-Time or Full-Time
Part-time work is not common in private practice. If this is something you desire, be upfront about it while interviewing. Some groups may restrict partnership to only full-time physicians. Expect this to be a discussion and realistically a limitation to your options.
Any working mother can relate to the topic of childcare. Options include daycare or a nanny. Your daycare should have extended hours. Consider if your daycare closes on holidays that coincide with your work schedule, if the hours fit your needs, which ages are cared for and if there is a waiting list. One advantage of daycare is having multiple childcare providers rather than dependence on one person. The disadvantage is your child may contract many childhood illnesses which lead to sick leave from work. If you choose a nanny, consider how you will find one, especially if moving to a new area, what hours you require, how to maximize child safety, what you will do if the provider falls sick, and if you should have live-in help.
- Significant Others
Most successful female cardiologists I have met have had significant others who have either taken a break from their own careers to stay at home and raise the family, been self-employed with flexible hours, worked from home or were very understanding. Be honest about your expectations. Consider if your significant other will travel for work and how you will manage those issues. Discussing this in advance will spare you unnecessary stress in the future.
Having a rewarding experience in private practice cardiology while balancing young motherhood is not easy but can be done. There are vital choices we make that impact our experience from the work settings we choose, the hours we work and with whom, how we care for ours kids while working and how we partner successfully with our significant others. The right choice is our own and the one that brings us the balance we hope to achieve.
To learn more about the ACC WIC Section, visit ACC.org/WIC. Join the conversations on Twitter with the hashtag #ACCWIC.