I attended the graduation banquet for the psychiatry residents last night. My husband and I hired a babysitter, got dressed up (very unusual for us), and drove across town in order to attend. I don’t know if these banquets are traditional everywhere but they are a staple of the two programs where I have been as a student and as a teacher. Typically they are held at a nice restaurant and there is an after dinner program of speeches recognizing the graduating residents, roasts and silly skits, and awards of varying types. The event is a little on the dull side, typically, but pleasant. I wanted to attend this year because the graduating class of residents includes one of the residents with whom I worked closely. I also wanted to go because this is the same program I graduated from years ago.
The event made an interesting juxtaposition to the rest of my day, which had been filled with work related stressors. I had been called in from a day off after the people I supervised engaged in a massive and unprofessional argument over who was doing more work on the service. While I was in the office dealing with them, (on my day off, remember) which was upsetting enough, I was tagged by the most senior person in our department for a necessary but very unpleasant and work intensive task. Which is due by the end of next week. On top of a few other stressful circumstances at work, plus my usual duties, it was the kind of day that makes me wonder why I’m working at this place. Especially after another colleague this week told me about his wife’s new job as a psychiatrist in a different local facility, which will pay her about $30,000 more than I make per year and involves less call and no administrative or other “extra” duties beyond seeing patients, and only 10-12 patients a day at that. Listening to him, I have to confess I felt insanely jealous of her. More money for less stress sounds awfully good some days.
The banquet reminded me why I keep hanging in there with my current job despite all the stresses and frustrations. I love teaching the residents. It is my favorite part of what I do, even beyond seeing patients (which is my second favorite part, and a close second at that). I love working with them one on one, in small groups and in larger groups for lectures. I love both the informal mentoring and the formal teaching. I love working with psychiatry residents and with the family medicine residents. I was surprised and delighted when one of the psychiatry resident groups gave me an award for my work with them; it feels really good to know that the teaching that means so much to me means a lot to them too. I love the sense of continuity that I get from teaching, the sense that lessons that were shared with me are being shared again down the line. Hopefully some of these doctors will become teachers in their turn as well. One of the speakers talked about the family and community of the program and I prize that sense of being part of something bigger, something that reaches backward and forward and equips young doctors to be of service to people in need.