Best of Both Worlds podcast: Returning to medicine after a break

Many careers aren’t linear these days, and so the Best of Both Worlds podcast has been exploring and celebrating these twists and turns! A few weeks ago I interviewed  software engineer Curran Shiefelbein about returning to work after a break. Today’s episode features Sarah interviewing Dr. Joan Dunlop about her non-traditional medical career path.

Dunlop, a pediatric allergist/immunologist at Johns Hopkins, worked very limited hours as she had three children after finishing her pediatric residency. Then, nine years later, she decided to return for pediatric subspecialty training — something most people do immediately after their residency ends. She talks about how that worked and how she makes things work today.

We end with a great success story from a listener. Here’s big cheers for better (higher-paying!) and *more* flexible jobs. We truly can have the best of both worlds. We’d love to share more listener wins, so please send those in! And as always, we appreciate a rating/review wherever you listen to podcasts.

12 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Returning to medicine after a break

  1. I thought this episode was fascinating even though I don’t work in the field of medicine and could never do what she was able to do (I work in financial services where part-time work just does not exist and probably never will.). I appreciated the reminder that the baby phase is hard and you can’t be challenged in every facet of life at the same time. Most of my peers have older kids so I feel like the odd woman out to be in the younger, super demanding stage of parenting (not that there is an easy stage… but night waking and toddler tantrums are particularly hard!). It’s a reminder to give myself more grace.

    And like the follow-up Q&A person, my company has made a complete about-face about WFH, too. So that is one huge positive that came out of the pandemic. I’m home for the rest of the year but will be hybrid when the office reopens in 2022. I know I’ll benefit from being in the office part time but am very glad I’ll be able to WFH 2-3 days/week going forward!

    1. @Lisa – I enjoyed this interview too! Her point that she didn’t want to be challenged in every sphere simultaneously was interesting. Right now I’m definitely feeling that it is hard with a toddler…but needs to be done, so there we go.

    2. I really enjoyed this interview, too! I loved how she talked about not wanting to do everything hard all at once. Her comments about not being able to be creative while sleep deprived really resonated with me, as I work in marketing/communications. I’d be curious to hear more stories like this. I also loved Laura’s final point about not making assumptions of flexibility vs. salary. Thank you for doing this!

  2. Loved this interview episode; one of my favourite’s to-date.

    Joan’s unusual career trajectory – coupled with the fact that she mentioned how keeping her foot in the door helped pave the way for re-entry – was inspiring. Sometimes the fact that I’ve scaled back on work while my kids are young feels like career suicide, but it doesn’t have to be! And, actually, I bring a whole different skillset to the workforce moving forward (her description of having someone spill juice in the van had me laughing out loud).

    I also loved her discussion of values and how that impacts her daily and long-range decisions. Like choosing a specialty that had a real-world impact on her own life due to her children’s food allergies. Other highlights: mentioning that the pace of COVID was unsustainable, that a day in the ER felt less stressful than a day home with kids, that she doesn’t get up at 4 AM to exercise when she has little ones at home and taking time to assess which child/career goal etc might need more time/attention in a particular season.

    Also found the Q&A follow-up re. working from home really fascinating…and ironic. What a great turn of events for the listener and gold star for putting herself out there to get a better job with more flexibility in the end.

    Such a great episode!!

  3. Haha, well as a pediatric subspecialist, she probably got paid less than she did as a generalist — unless I am missing something and she actually went into neonatology or PICU. You don’t get much of a salary bump as a pedi subspecialist, but it can be nice if it opens doors for you to do research or something.

      1. Direct quote: “Three cheers for better (higher paying) and more flexible jobs.” 🤷🏼‍♀️

        1. @Omdg- that was about the listener success story we ran in the Q&A – the line right before the one you quoted in this comment. I have no idea what Joan’s salary was in either job.

  4. Not at all suggesting she picked It because of $, but allergy / immuno is her field and it’s definitely a higher salary average than gen peds.

    (My own subspecialty is what you describe though- lower averages than gen peds! Lower volume / pace in most places though.)

    1. And not to get too in the weeds but A/I is boarded not through ABP like most other peds specialties and thus they are also trained in fellowship to treat adults even if the residency is in peds! Perhaps that is why the compensation is a bit different …

  5. I loved this interview, too. I wish I had listened to it when I was pregnant with my first child – the perspective about not wanting to be challenged in every facet of life at the same time was something that I ended up learning the hard way, with a lot of self-imposed guilt!

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