By: Sonja Van Hala, MD, MPH, FAAFP
As I embark on a new era in my professional life, I am giving attention to how to transition. Over the last twelve years as residency program director, I worked alongside remarkable and dedicated faculty and residents. I am immensely grateful for all I learned from them. Now, as I look ahead, I see many career possibilities and I have a keen sense of wanting to be selective. I made this transition with a specific goal in mind: to create space for the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong: I love my work. I have no concern about finding work I am passionate about. All I need to do is look around me: to be a family doctor, to teach, to mentor, to collaborate, to create, to learn. This career is a remarkable gift.
I’ll share a few thoughts about how I am tending to my transition.
I am taking the time to appreciate where I have been. I am taking the time to consider where I am going. I am marinating, steeping, clarifying. Others may have anxiety about the uncertainty ahead, but there is no need to make this anxiety my own. I have heard many reactions to my transition, but the lens that colors my circumstance depends on the person with whom I’m talking. Therefore, I have to be clear in my heart about what I want, as only I can articulate the lens that is my own.
Professionally, the trajectory could go many ways. Personally, the vision is much clearer: I am not going to hurry. I am enjoying shopping the farmer’s market with my daughter, shooting hoops with my son, exploring the foothills with my dog, sipping coffee with my husband. I am saying “yes” to board games, cooking classes, live music, and Girl Scout campouts. I am getting enough sleep.
The biggest change has been the absence of time pressure. This feels like space to be, to breathe. I am attentive to not backfill this space with busyness. This transition, this space, is a gift. I am opening it slowly.
Sonja Van Hala, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor (Clinical) in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah. She is a board-certified family medicine physician who welcomes obstetric, pediatric, and family medicine patients to her practice.