August Edition,2013 (Part2)
In ‘Conahana-san of the Month’, we introduce experiences of senior female researchers who have been successfully managed their work-life balance between research/work and life events such as childbirth, child care and family care.
The last edition was mainly about how she became a doctor. She became an obstetrician and gynaecologist after 2 years spent as internist and now she finds her present position truly challenging. The number of obstetricians and gynaecologists is decreasing, however, what is an attractive point of this job?
◎Introduction of Makiko Omori
Organization： Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology ), the University of Yamanashi Hospital
In short, compared to other departments, it is full of moments that we say “congratulations!”
Babies are called Aka-chan in Japanese, Aka means red. They are actually red; babies are the cutest thing in the world!! (*^o^*)
All babies are full of energy! The happiest moment for me is when each baby comes out to this world safe and sound.
The number of obstetricians and gynaecologists is decreasing as you know, but I recommend more doctors come into this department. Why? Because we have more opportunities to say “congratulations” than in any other department. Also, as gynaecologist, we can follow throughout all process of evaluation, diagnosis and operation, which is not possible in other departments. In case of uterine or cervical cancer, one doctor can care the whole process from the first evaluation to the end of hospitalization. In most cases, we see patients off from hospital saying “congratulations” because of high complete recovery rates of those cancers. There are many situations that we say “congratulations” even besides babies’ deliveries. It’s a nice job, isn’t it?
● I now understand what you mean with all the experiences that you just shared. Well, please correct me if my personal assumption is wrong but my impression is that many doctors are working hard and long hours with little sleep. How did you balance your work and parenthood?
The members of my medical office were very supportive. For example, my colleague did an operation for my patient when I was suffering from morning sickness. One day when my child was in nursery, the nursery called my office in the midst of an operation that the child had a fever and needed to be picked up immediately. One of my colleagues again covered for me and let me go and pick her up. My team has something similar to “sportsmanship” spirit that connects the team tight to make another moment of “congratulations” happen.
But I must say that there are challenges for many women to come back after having a baby. Clinical working environment changes quickly and it’s hard to catch up once you take off for a while. Many things change at a high speed, such as names of pills and methods of treatment and procedures. The sooner you come back after maternity leave, the less effort you need for training and preparation to rejoin. On the other hand, who take care of the baby then? My husband also being a doctor, our situation didn’t allow us to support each other to take time to work and spend time with the baby in turns. So what I did was I found a couple of people among those I knew and asked them to take turns to take care of my baby (like a personal baby-sitter). It was more than 20 years ago and there was no nursery that took 0-year olds at that time. As far as I have heard there are still not enough.
She still talks about the “field-day lunch” thing in elementary school (lol) The morning of the field day, I woke up early and prepared a lunch box for us. It was all set but I ended up working late in the morning office hours to see patients and reached school 30 minutes late for lunch. We had no luck that her morning program had gone ahead by 30 minutes, so lunch time was also moved earlier by 30 minutes, and the afternoon program had just started when I rushed into school with the lunch box. I heard that my husband bought lunch in a rush at a convenience store and her grandfather ate it with my child alone. She couldn’t eat the lunch I made for her and we couldn’t spend time together over lunch. It obviously made her quite grumpy. I bet she felt so lonely that she still talks about it. I also remember that day with pain in my heart.（^^;）
● It’s very sad for you, too, missing the hand-made lunch to enjoy together (tears). How do you see the present working environment from the work-life balance point of view?
My team is well organized and we are creating a better working environment by compartmentalizing between times on duty and off duty. Groups within the team are assigned as either “off-duty” or “on-duty” so that all team members can enjoy leisure times. Generally no emergency call goes to “off-duty” team members so they are free to schedule holidays and that makes their families happy. In my case, I recently casually went out to a hot spring and a theater. It was the first time that I have been out to a theater inTokyoand I got a ticket on a waiting list at the door. That ticket happened to be one of the best ones in the front row. I have just started to learn how to enjoy holidays (lol)
● It sounds like your life is now very well balanced! It’s important as I believe that having a productive holiday makes working hours also productive. And it’s nice that the entire team is collaborative. What is your next goal in the future?
Well, my future plans are younger-generation’s development and continuing my own major study on “anti-oncogenes of uterine/cervix cancer.” Lately more and more motivated young doctors are choosing obstetrics and gynaecology, so I wish to support those doctors through my study.
Also, even though being backed up by a good team, there are still those who cannot avoid leaving due to maternity issues. Of course people have different family issues or personal issues but I will not give up improving the working environment of my team so that all members can stay longer and work together.
After the interview, I realized that I hadn’t really talked with a doctor like this outside a clinic before. Thanks to Dr. Omori’s friendly atmosphere and maybe because she was not wearing a doctor’s white coat, I enjoyed a close talk with her although it was a first for me. (^^) I felt that a sense of fulfillment always covers for her hard work and I hope that readers can feel it from this article, too!