I was in academic medicine for eight years. I probably taught close to 100 residents and students during that time. In many ways, part of my job was “parenting” them through the professional maturation they experienced as they went from medical student to attending. Just like parenting my own kids, I did a lot of things wrong, tried (unsuccessfully) to prevent them from making some of the same mistakes I did, cried and celebrated with them, and eventually let them go off on their own (which I haven’t had to do with my own kids yet) reminding them that I was only a phone call away.
I’ve heard older parents talk about the absolute joy of seeing their kids all grown up, transitioning from “kid” to friend. I’m still at the stage where I rock my youngest to sleep and treasure each little boy kiss and love note from my daughters. However, I see glimpses of the men and women they will be someday which is scary and cool all at the same time. The same thing happened when I taught. I would see a resident learn from a mistake and do it better the next time. I would see the raw talent develop into professional skills. And when I’m really lucky, I get to see them “all grown up.”
I’ve recently acquired a physician leadership role in my organization. Some of my former residents are now my colleagues. In my leadership role, I’m asked to address physician issues or struggles at times. It’s strange to be back to addressing the same challenges certain residents grappled with during residency. I’m not sure whether to see that as a failure of our training or as a reaffirmation that these traits are so firmly ingrained that three years of training couldn’t undo them.
This past weekend, I attended a local CME conference. I was part of the planning committee and also was invited to give one of the lectures. The nervousness I felt giving my lecture was nothing compared with my anxiety as one of my former residents, present at my invitation, got up to give her lecture.
While I didn’t doubt her competence or ability, I was still nervous for her. Much like I am when my daughters are performing in a play or my son is asked to read something at temple services. I have to say that she completely rocked the talk. I personally thought she was the best lecturer of the weekend — myself included — and she had some pretty stiff competition. She just hands down did a fabulous job. Several of my colleagues came up to me afterwards to congratulate me on inviting her. At the end of her lecture, I went up to give her a hug and compliment her on such an outstanding job. She told me that what I thought still mattered a lot to her and she was glad to hear my praise.
This is one of the sweet moments in teaching or in parenting — seeing your student or child shine in their own right.
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