Motherhood & Medicine: You Can’t Have It All (All the time)

As a mom of five children and PA for 17 years, Bethany Grubb, MPH, MPAS, PA-C, came to her Saturday deeper dive session armed with years of experience balancing the role of mother and medical provider. PA Grubb discussed the work/life balance that many PAs struggle with – not to mention the added challenges caused by the recent Covid-19 pandemic.  PA Grubb identified self-care as a priority for maintaining balance.  She discussed the different phases in which working parents can find themselves; suffering, surviving and thriving. Practical tips such as paying for help, house cleaning, grocery delivery, meal prep and meal delivery, counseling and focusing on sleep were reviewed by PA Grubb.

Coverage: SDPA 19th Annual Fall Dermatology Conference in Los Angeles Nov. 4-7, 2021

PA Grubb discussed “how kids’ activities can be a major time-suck” and in her experience, this has necessitated her family pare down the activities by having their children limit their activities.  She reports “if we are not taking the time to build back ourselves, we can get lost in the hustle” and one way to help accomplish this is through empowering kids to help in the process. Examples can include having children make their own lunch and clean out their lunchboxes. This can certainly take more time on the front-end with instruction, but will pay off with time.  Additional benefits of this step are helping children learn autonomy and problem solving.  Exercise and mindfulness were also discussed as ways to help cope with the stress of working and parenting.

Professionally, PA Grubb recommends checking in with the “why” of what we do. She highlighted her own career trajectory from practicing in medical dermatology for nearly two decades and her recent transition into academics.  She also discussed the “tolerance of ambiguity” as the ability to be flexible and a skill that all medical providers can use and work on as higher levels are associated with resilience and lower levels associated with stress, depression and burnout. In addition to a professional check-in, she recommends utilizing existing tools, such as enneagram personality tests or strength finders to gain insight into our innate traits. Just knowing whether one is an introvert or extrovert can help working parents navigate daily decisions. Additionally, having difficult conversations is sometimes needed in order for families to balance priorities in their homes.  She reports recurring examples she has experienced include using family vs hired help and time away from home and how to balance with partner or as a single parent.

Lastly, PA Grubb discussed the importance of community in fostering connection amongst other working parents. This may mean that when people offer help, one needs to be open to accepting this.  Ms. Grubb discussed additional ways to get involved that can give back to the profession such as volunteer positions within the PA specialties such as the opportunities that are available within the SDPA.

Sarah B.W. Patton, PA-C