Dr Uma Vaidyanathan says she juggles her choices her way and is able to be a better doctor for it
I have been in practice now for the past 13 years. It has been a roller-coaster ride in many ways, juggling my responsibilities as a clinician, a mother, a wife, a daughter and daughter-in-law, all in a day’s work.
I come from a nuclear family; being the only child I was the focus of attention for my parents in everything. My mother never really had a life beyond me and my father and wanted me to always be a happy career woman . My taking up gynaecology was her dream.” You will be able to help women in need all your life,” she told me.
Medical studies are a gruelling 5.5 years followed by preparations for post-graduate entrances where you may or may not clear in the first attempt. I recall in the formative years, I hardly had any time for enjoying life and being happy like my friends from other professions. I was married while preparing for entrance exams. Here as well, the focus was on clearing the entrances and going for further studies. So yet again, personal life did take a huge backseat.
After my post-graduation, I had my daughter. I had taken a break from clinical work for the first three years of her life as I have decided that I wanted to give her time. When she started going to formative school, that’s when I started my practice in a small nursing home. Hours were flexible and I was able to give her time. Gradually, she grew, I too grew in my profession and today I am a proud member of the Max family of clinicians.
My work-life balance to be happy
I am often asked about work-life balance; as to how I manage to shuffle between different roles and yet keep my sanity intact. Please remember that for several women like me out there, it’s a journey full of challenges. In an era of recent technological changes that have made it possible for doctors to be in touch with patients 24/7 or rather and vice versa, 24 hours a day, seven days a week means that, even on a holiday therefore I find it hard to ‘switch off’ and genuinely rest.
And the complaint is often that doctors are expected to be ‘on-call’ at all times, without being allowed to have a life outside work. I have certain strict rules that I follow in practice, especially now since my daughter is a teenager and needs my time and attention more. I don’t work on Sundays unless there is an emergency which requires my immediate attention but rather restrict my evening OPDs, spending that time with my daughter and for my filial responsibilities.
During the day
Yes, you will find me running from one Max hub to another, handling OPDs and emergencies, but most of it now, after so many years of being in the profession, and with help being at hand always, is managed comfortably. As far as the phone is concerned, I counsel my patients to contact me directly in emergency and not use Whatsapp as a consultation mode.
Above all it’s dangerous for them as well as seeing a patient real time is always more conclusive than relying on hearsay or Whats app chats. At times yes, I do get held up with a patient for hours together. Likewise happens with all clinicians, but that’s why we did become doctors in the first place, to serve people in need of our medical expertise.
It is very much possible to maintain a healthy balance between what you want in life.There is no end to earning money, there is no end to material success. I may be known today as a decent gynecologist in my locality, but if I have aspirations to be the best in the city, or the country even, then certain core areas of my life are going to take a backseat. It’s all about priorities! We all only live one life!
Every woman at the end of the day needs to decide what makes her happiest, and priorities her life goals accordingly. No feminism here, but at the end of the day, even for a clinician like me, moments spent with my near and dear ones are as important as seeing the satisfied smile on a mother’s face when she has delivered her baby.
Each one to her own. Do what makes you happy and sleep peacefully at the end of a long hard day!
(The author is principal Consultant, Obs & Gynae)