The Road to FISE: Practical Car Equals Professional Freedom
July 31, 2020
It’s 535AM and I’ve been up since 4am, and already sent all the work emails I needed and deployed assignments to the future leaders I am helping to guide. I sent reminders to the last stragglers in our department who are committee chairs to submit their committee descriptions. One stellar pediatrician sent a one-liner and I replied back “I do insist. I want people to take credit for what they do. I think you do more than that. Can you come up with 1-2 more lines? I want you to imagine what you want to do in this role as well. It’s actually a secret self-reflective process for the department – if that makes any sense. I want us to all psychoanalyze our professional lives.” To the ones who sent complete descriptions, I sent positive notes back. And then there are the others that sent over-blown descriptions of essentially defunct committees. I’m a new kind of Assistant Boss, non-judmental. We all live in our imaginary worlds, especially me.
For our department, I sent several scheduling emails for appointments with young pediatricians to have focused meetings to try to develop projects for them. I’m really excited about this new work. It dovetails with physician wellness, our clinical strategic goals and also leadership development. Some physicians work well in groups, and others work well alone. Some need help learning how to run committees, and some need help getting motivated to be involved in the department. They are all important parts of an interconnected whole.
I also had time to think about our climate work. A new resident joined our AAP Climate Change and Health Committee. Interns are super busy and I emailed “Again it is low-key so there will be single-events if you want to do some fun stuff, and Dr. AF (her clinic mentor) is helping a lot with the Youth Arts Exhibition.” She is now on our email list, and joining our now 16 member committee. I sent an email to an already enthusiastic new commmitee member who is going to work on our Science and Eingineering Fair “Green Ribbon” project that has an already interested highschool senior volunteer. And then we have about 10 Children’s Arts Council Applications already. I sent another 3 emails inviting some kids to apply. We have space for 20, but 15 is a more manageable group for our two interns to work with and our committee chairs will manage the interns. We have the 6 year old president and founder of a local school’s Reuse It Club. Also #minitrashheros2020, who are 3 siblings who are litterpickers and on instagram applied. They just happen to be my patients. LOL.
Then I met with our inaugural AAP Climate Change and Health Committee Premed Intern yesterday. We had a fun two-hour premed advising meeting. I had been a premed advisor at Crimson University for over a decade, so I am very good at it. We chatted about her GPA and her past activities. She is going to update her resume and send it to me. I offered to be a reference for a future job she is going to apply for, and I provided gentle guidance of how to structure her extracurricular life so that she enjoys and finds fullfillment in it – yet also helps her meet her professional goals. It’s important to be strategic. She is a former patient, so I have known her since 11-12 and she is now a college sophomore. She told me “How do you have time to do everything? This is so helpful.”
And her questions made me pause. Then I answered her in all honesty, as she wants to know and trying to imagine what her career and life trajectory will be. “I went straight through. I never took a break. I met Mr. Plastic Picker very early and we knew we were going to be married. And I wanted to have children, that was more important to me than being a doctor. I had them early in residency and it was very hard. I don’t know if I would recommend it. But now they are only a little younger than you and I am Assistant Boss now, and I don’t really spend money. I just do whatever I want which includes getting to spend time advising you and trying to help the environment.”
Its 6AM now, and I’ve had a wonderful 2 hours of professional and environmental work that has been so interesting! The secret is all the leadership development work I’m doing in our department is that I made it all up. I saw that it needed to be done, and I wanted to do it. No one asked me to do it, and I’m certainly not compensated appropriately for it. And the climate work and the premed advising, that is important for all of us and it’s something that I just came up with. This professional freedom to puruse these things and do this climate work is because I have a practical car.
Mr. Plastic Picker drives a paid off we-bought-in-cash 2012 Toyota Prius that has about 120,000 miles. It still gets about 50 MPG. I drive a Ford CMAX Energy Hybrid 2017 that I named Ruby. I call it my super-cheap Tesla. We thought about buying a Tesla, but it didn’t make much sense. My Ford CMAX was a third of the cost, and I drive it back and forth from the office. I charge it at home, and then I charge it at work. At work, our HMO has charging stations that are linked to our electric company and it charges our home electricity bill. But the secret is that we paid all cash for solar panels about 5 years ago (I got a huge deal because we know the contractor) and we produce more energy than we use, so essentially I don’t pay anything for my daily commute. I fill up still maybe once every 4-6 weeks regular unleaded. Mr. Plastic Picker and I still try to reduce our driving in general, although we have relatively efficient cars that are affordable and paid off.
I really don’t even think about our cars and Teslas. We just decided we have two perfectly good ones, and we will keep on driving them until it’s time to change. The last car we drove for 12 years, and than I traded it with my brother for his fancy timeshare for the summer. He gave it in turn to a family that goes to their church who were in need of a reliable car, and were good decent people but without as much financial means.
And so above is the picture of my car, a Ford CMAX Energi. The previous charging cable was not functioning for a few months and it was super annoying. I don’t really have anything to do with the cars other than helping decide which fuel-efficient ones we get and the color. Mr. Plastic Picker is on this environmental journey with me too, and he finally had time to take the car to the dealer and replaced the burned out cable which was covered under waranty. We probably have to get the electric wiring checked on one of the garage outlets. But my father-in-law identified the garage outlet that has the surge protector, and I’m back to almost full electricity on my daily commute!!!
And below is another thing I got to do because I drive a pratical car. We deployed our vaccine social media campaign. One of the third year residents took the initiative and designed it. I had been walking down the clinic hallway one day, and spied a cool beach backdrop that the nurses put up. And then it all clicked, and I started running around the office like a mad woman saying, “OMG you are brilliant! We need to do this for vaccines. Selfies with your nurse and doctors. We sell the story of safety and vaccines. Let the patients tell their own stories on Instagram and we pick fun hashtags! No one watches TV or listens to radio. Everyone is on facebook and Instagram.” I had gone to Dr. AF’s office and excitedly was talking probably nonsensically and his two residents were there. I think I made some kind of sense, because Kelsey’s eyes lit up and she said – “I’ll do it!” Then she did it. She designed it, and within a week with RNPlastipicker’s initative they are deployed at all 13 clinics now. Wow. I think I’ve done enough. I need to do my taxes this weekend. I made up the social media campaign project as well, and an amazing resident and nursing supervisor grabbed it and finished the project in less than two weeks. “Diseases don’t stand a chance” and neither does climate change!
This is Dr. Plastic Picker signing off. It’s been a busy week and I need to do my taxes and an rewatching Star Trek Enterprise again. There are so many facets to Trip and T’pol’s relationship.