By Minerva Romero Arenas
Throughout residency my family and friends have offered their thoughts on my working during holidays. The following essay is some food for thought based on the many opinions I’ve received.
It is not unusual for us medical professionals to alternate working one or another holiday.For a great blog on the happenings at the hospital during the holidays, click here.
When we manage to get a holiday off, it frequently means spending a significant portion of our salary to fly home if you are from out-of-state. When it doesn’t work out we are thankful for technology like FaceTime, which allows us to maintain a virtual presence during the festivities. If the scheduling gods are in your favor the administration may actually maneuver a trade-off where you work really hard one week in order to get the other holiday off- this win-win gives everyone at least one true holiday off.
Our families slowly grow used to it. Initially there is denial: “what do you mean you don’t get Christmas off?” “But you were actually there in the hospital all night?”
Sometimes there is anger. It is so unfair that their beloved Doctor happens to be the one who had to work this year (again). They are always working so hard– studying countless hours during medical school; struggling to survive the brutal (but better than it used to be) 80-hour workweeks in residency. I’m told when people finally reach junior attending- they are yet at the bottom of another totem pole where they also take most of the holidays for the team.
Eventually there is acceptance, and dare I say pride to share their doc with the patients. Perhaps after hearing many stories of lives saved and even of lives lost, there is an understanding that sometimes there is a greater purpose for our being here. Presents will be there to be opened late, the smiles and hugs will still be meaningful, and sometimes our sick patients and their families simply need us more at that time.
Minerva A. Romero Arenas, MD, MPH is a General Surgery Resident at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. She received her MD and her MPH from The University of Arizona College of Medicine and the Zuckerman College of Public Health in 2009. She studied Cell Biology and French at Arizona State University as an undergraduate.
Her interests include surgical oncology & endocrinology, global health, health disparities, quality improvement, and genomics. A native of Mexico City, Mexico, Dr. Romero Arenas is passionate about recruiting the next generation of surgeons and is involved in mentoring through various organizations.
She enjoys fine arts, films, gastronomy, and sports. She enjoys jogging, swimming, and kickboxing. Most importantly, Dr. Romero Arenas treasures spending time with her family and loved ones.
Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.