The Half-Full Glass

     Its cliché, but I frequently reference the saying “The glass is always half-full.” There are always unexpected twists and turns in life, and that saying definitely helps me keep a positive outlook on things. I look back at sentinel moments in my life that didn’t go as expected and inevitably most of it turned out extremely positive. For example, although I didn’t get accepted to a US medical school, my experience at an off-shore Caribbean school (SGU) was life altering. Besides a great education I came away with numerous lifelong friends, few of whom became like brothers. After residency, I found limited job opportunities around NewYork City and settled on a position in academics. This was despite swearing during residency never to work in academics! But unexpectedly while surrounded by great mentors, residents and students I developed a passion for medical education that changed my career aspirations. After almost 6 years, I moved to Texas to continue my work in medicine and academics. Although I wanted to hit the ground running, I hit a major roadblock in the form of an unexpected 6 month hiatus from my career.
     While in a bureaucratically imposed exile, disappointment naturally set in as the weeks and months went by. But I resorted to my favorite cliché and two incredible things happened. First, I got to nurture another passion; fatherhood. 
     I remember flipping through my phone on my HuffPost app, coming across an article about the state of parental leave in America. It’s sad and disappointing. The following infographic shows how we (the USA) lags behind the rest of the world in taking care of our new parents and the children they’ve brought into the world.

    My unexpected time off has given me the opportunity to watch my youngest daughter grow through her formative infant months. This has been a precious and memorable “paternity leave” that otherwise would be difficult to attain in our workforce. Furthermore, the medical school debt that physicians carry (a whole other topic!) makes extended parental leave for mothers and fathers a rare luxury. Nevertheless, though it wasn’t planned, the time off spent with my darling has been wonderful.
     But at some point, I did have to start working again (bills bills bills!)and fortunately the world of Locum Tenens  (temporary contract work) offered plenty of great opportunities. Although it wouldn’t be in academics, this New Yorker suddenly found himself in the middle of rural southern Oklahoma, a new resident of the Chickasaw Indian Nation and a physician for the Indian Health Services.
     Once again, my favorite clichè did not let me down. What started out as simply a need to work is rapidly becoming a unique experience that is giving me new perspectives and insight on medicine, the state of our healthcare system, culture, history and my own abilities as a physician. In the coming weeks and months, as I delve further in this experience, I hope to blog all about it!
T.S. Eliot
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
― T.S. EliotFour Quartets

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