Finding the Right Fit

by Marta Schenck, MD

As I finish my second year of residency, I have been reflecting a lot on what I want my long-term practice to look like. While throughout residency people have occasionally asked what I want to do, it feels like suddenly everyone is asking me if I am looking for jobs, where I want to live, and what I want to do after residency. To say it all feels daunting is an understatement.  But as I ponder these questions, I have been forced to look back at the aspects of residency that I have really enjoyed, because I believe that is where I will find the answer for what I want to do with my career after residency.

However, sometimes it feels hard to know what I actually enjoyed in residency. The long hours and grueling workload can make every rotation feel less than enjoyable. When you are burnt out, enjoying a rotation is an uphill battle. Did I not enjoy the newborn nursery because the work itself did not bring me joy? Or was it the fact that I ended that month working 13 days straight of 12 hour days? I believe it was the latter, because who does not love working with cute newborn babies, but sometimes it all feels blurred in my mind. Or sometimes a rotation has a negative connotation because the people you were working with made it more difficult. We are all human beings with different personalities, and sometimes teams are made up of personalities that do not mesh well. When reflecting on those times, it again feels hard to separate my negative feelings about the human interactions versus my potential positive feelings about the medicine involved during that month. So how do I sift through all of this and decide what I want to do in the future?

A few things have become clear in my reflection. I want to work with people who I enjoy being around. If I do not feel supported and heard at my future job, then I know that burn out and job dissatisfaction will come more quickly. My father worked as an executive coach for his entire career, and he has told me many times that “people do not quit jobs, they quit the people who employed them.” I want to find a job where the human connections will keep me going, even on hard days.

Certain aspects of medicine have also stood out to me. Having continuity with patients is very important. Just the other day I saw a 2 month old baby for a well child check. I had “met” this patient when she was a 4-week old embryo in her mother. I have known this family for almost a year, and the joy of seeing them regularly does not diminish. Caring for them is made easier by the fact that I know them so well.

How will these things come together in a job? That is yet to be known (or found). But I hope that I can keep in mind the important things I have learned from residency and find a place where I can be happy for the long-term. And if I do not find a job that is fulfilling in that way? Well then I hope to always take the things I learned from each position and keep searching for the right fit for me.   

Marta Schenck grew up in Portland, Oregon. She received her undergraduate degree in biology at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. After a several month detour traveling through South America, she returned to Portland where she worked as a medical scribe and completed her medical degree at Oregon Health & Science University. She chose the University of Utah because of the welcoming faculty & residents and the opportunity to get full-spectrum training to help her reach her goal of practicing in a rural community. Aside from rural medicine, her other medical interests include women’s health, obstetrics, palliative care, and geriatrics. As an outdoor enthusiast, she enjoys hiking, rafting, skiing, & biking, all of which added to the appeal of University of Utah & Salt Lake City. When not at the hospital or in the wilderness, she can be found baking, reading, or puzzling.

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