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  • Erin & Jaci

Staying present and keeping the balance in medicine

I always say my husband messed up my plans. I was NEVER going to get married and I wanted to have children later in life….maybe. You know that saying “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans?” I am living proof that it holds true. I was married at 22, was a mother at age 25, and had my first daughter in my first semester of graduate school. Yep, I blame it all on him =)

With that being said, I have known since the age of 17 when my grandfather passed away with hospice care (which by the way those nurses are THE MOST AMAZING HUMANS IN THIS WORLD) that I was going to be a nurse. I went on to realize that I could become a nurse practitioner where I would be able to care for others at a higher level of responsibility but still hold the coveted title “nurse.” That’s the answer to the million-dollar question asked by a lot of patients- why didn’t I become a doctor?

Being a wife, a mother and juggling a career in medicine is not an easy task. No one, and I mean NO ONE, is able to prepare you for the constant struggle of being present for your family, while at the same time being present for your patients. “How can you do it all?” This question, other than why didn’t you just become a doctor, is brought up on an almost daily basis. My honest answer is this- I really don’t know. I try to keep my head above water daily with the realization that balancing it all is not a possibility. It’s a struggle where sometimes I end up running around like a chicken with my head cut off. 

However, along the way, I have managed to realize there are essential elements I need in order to keep our family's ship from sinking and to have my sanity remain intact.

Make sure that your support system supports not only the ones you love--but you

For years after graduation, I would work countless hours, on and off the clock. This sometimes meant not getting home until 6:30 at night (10 hour days on average) and missing bath time. I would come home so frustrated with the first nurse practitioner job that I had I would sit in silence and not talk much at dinner. I would be so worried about a patient’s condition or rattling my mind about symptoms a patient was having, that I would wake myself up in the middle of the night and research for countless hours because I couldn't shut my brain off. This went on for many years and I knew this was not the way my patients and my family needed me to be present. That’s when I decided to back down to 4-day work weeks, leaving Fridays open for family time, time with my husband, and time with myself. It was a very difficult decision as I have always been a "worker bee" and felt that having an extra day off was being lazy. But, at the same time, I knew at that point in my career I needed to take a break. I made sure that my concerns and wants were known, and I continue to not hold back. Because in the end if I am not happy no one else around me can fully happy.nd determination for me to reach my potential, I’m not sure I would be where I am in my career today.

Voice your concerns and opinions. Make sure that your “wants” are known.

For years after graduation I would work countless hours, on and off the clock. This sometimes meant not getting home until 6:30 at night (10 hour days on average) and missing bath time. I would come home so frustrated with the first nurse practitioner job that I had I would sit in silence and not talk much at dinner. I would be so worried about a patient’s condition or rattling my mind about symptoms a patient was having, that I would wake myself up in the middle of the night and research for countless hours because I couldn't shut my brain off. This went on for many years and I knew this was not the way my patients and my family needed me to be present. That’s when I decided to back down to 4-day work weeks, leaving Fridays open for family time, time with my husband, and time with myself. It was a very difficult decision as I have always been a "worker bee" and felt that having an extra day off was being lazy. But, at the same time, I knew at that point in my career I needed to take a break. I made sure that my concerns and wants were known, and I continue to not hold back. Because in the end if I am not happy no one else around me can fully happy.

Self-care doesn’t mean spa days. 

I am big on self-care. I never used to be, but a few years back I found that self-care IS A MUST! Self-care doesn’t just mean making sure that I get my much-needed pedicures or having my hair done. It also means creating time for myself to get my workouts in and prep my meals for the week. Self-care is a term that has gained a lot of traction in social media and some people may interpret it differently than others. I consider self-care to be time to sit at the computer to come up with new content or organizing my agenda for the month. It removes stress and allows me to relax and be able to enjoy time with my family. I try to perform my self-care on a daily basis versus a weekly basis as it allows me to stay better balanced throughout the week. 

In the end, BE PRESENT

Don’t get me wrong, technology is a great thing. But it also takes us away from our loved ones. I’m just as guilty as everyone else because let’s face it- between working in a practice, managing a blog/website/social media account with my bestie, and communicating with family and friends, it’s imperative that I have technology available to me. With that being said, there are those times where I do leave my phone behind and actually enjoy the fact of not having a cell or wifi connection for communication when I am with my family. While on vacation I really do try to make a conscious effort to leave my phone either in my bag and not wear my iwatch, so I’m not constantly aware of text messages and email updates. It also allows me to be able to be present with my family. My husband and I are both trying to work on this together as well as reminding our 10-year-old that sometimes it’s ok to not have a constant connection with the outside world. I try to take pictures with my "mental camera" versus my iPhone camera, and engage in conversation with my girls versus constantly looking at my phone and reading texts/emails. 

In the end, finding the balance between being a mother and wife in medicine is like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It’s kind of impossible. But the saying “Fake it till you make it” can most definitely be applied here. I try on a daily basis to balance out this tug of war with my heart and my mind, but in the end, I know that me being present with my patients and family is ultimately what they need. And I try to live in the present every single day.


XO

Jaci

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