My interest in geriatrics stems from working in a nursing home as a teenager however my exposure to palliative medicine happened during residency. During my training journey, I found that there were many instances where the two fields overlapped leading me down the path to become trained in both fields.
Early on in my journey to combine these fields everyone was so supportive with comments like "that makes sense" or "what a great way to combine your interests". However, now I feel as if I need to choose one field or the other to maintain my own sanity. I mean, how do you even pick which conferences to attend each year? AGS? AMDA? AAHPM? NHPCO? My family says - pick based on the best locations!
As a junior academician at an institution where geriatric medicine has a very nice structured home in the department of medicine and palliative medicine seems more nebulous, I have carved out a job where I continue to do both. Is this a sustainable existence? How do I balance my life along with balancing the dynamics associated with splitting my time between the two fields? Or is it just the perception that I am spending time in two different arenas? One of my colleagues like to say "good geriatric care is good palliative care".
I have started to define myself as a geriatrician with expertise in palliative care. It seems to fit with who I am at the core and help me decide what opportunities to pursue. I am still learning the art of negotiation and how to say 'no' so to speak - aren't we all?
I know there are others out there struggling with the same dilemma and thought that this could be a forum for discussion and support.
Thank you for listening :)
by: Amy M. Corcoran, MD