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A Piece of My Mind
August 24/31, 2011

The Road Warriors

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, Cleveland, Ohio (Dr Sekeres) (sekerem@ccf.org); and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr Steensma).

JAMA. 2011;306(8):805-806. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1191

They say that the road ain't no place to start a family.—“Faithfully” by Journey

Our mentors taught us much worth knowing—lessons often seasoned with a dash of “tough love.” We learned from our teachers how to deliver an engaging presentation (Way too many text slides. . . . Since you are not particularly good-looking, your graphics need to sparkle, or else you’ll hear snores before you're halfway through.), write a clear manuscript (Cluttered with the passive voice—and enough already with the dependent clauses. Good grief, boy, can't you write a simple declarative sentence?), put together a winning grant proposal (You have to convince the reviewers that your project is a sure bet—make them think they're being asked to fund a mission of discovery no less important than Captain Cook's expedition to the Pacific, so they will feel ashamed, even lose sleep, if they dare score it poorly.), and deal with rejection (Academic medicine is not for sissies—but you only get 24 hours to feel sorry for yourself, then you have to move on.). We discovered on our own the joys of academic medicine: the rush of perpetual intellectual stimulation and lifelong learning, the challenge of deciding which research questions to pursue, and the opportunity to teach trainees the nuances of our specialty and hope they, too, fall prey to the contagion of our enthusiasm. But what our mentors failed to tell us—perhaps because they hadn't quite figured it out themselves—and what we struggle to answer is how to be successful academically and keep up with the relentless demands of clinical practice, while still being present in a meaningful way in the lives of our families.

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