Residency experience as a single mother
Every day I got up around 4:45 am to make sure that I made it to work on time. On most days I got home around 6:00 pm, and other days I got home around 11:00 pm and would have to wake back up at 4:45 am the next day, unless it was the weekend. I knew that residency would be difficult, especially as single mother.
Giving up was not an option
Due to COVID-19 and my resident salary, I made the decision to stay home and commute about 2 hours every day to the hospital to save money. I faced several other challenges in addition to the commute. Working long hours—evenings, weekends, and some overnight shifts—I always had to make sure that I had a babysitter, which was usually my mother.
My schedule was ever-changing this past year, so on a few occasions, I would have to ask a relative to watch my daughter while I worked. With the few personal days that I was allowed to take, I made sure to align my health care appointments with my daughter’s. There were also a few occasions I had to take my daughter to the emergency department due to unexpected illnesses, and we would be at the hospital for several hours. On days like this, I wanted to just give up, but I knew I could not. At one point I remember being extremely depressed and burned out. I knew I was not myself, but all I could do was fake it to make it and prayed that I would be able to complete residency.
Rolled with the punches for her
A lot of times I did not have an actual day off unless it was a Sunday because I had to work on projects, assignments, presentations, and staff or attend a virtual meeting. I learned quickly that as a resident and mother, you have to adapt and roll with the punches. I felt guilty that I was not able to spend the amount of quality time that I would have like to have spent with my daughter. I would just tell myself that I was enduring all this for her. When I got home from work, I just wanted to sleep, but I knew it was not fair to my daughter. I would make sure to have an energy drink or Starbucks mocha ready, so that when I got home we could spend some quality time together.
I had to neglect myself a lot because I had to fulfill my commitments as a resident and make sure that my daughter was taken care of each day. I did not get to do much for myself in terms of mental health or physical health. Although I was faced with a lot during residency, I will be forever grateful for the opportunity. I learned a lot throughout this experience. I would not do anything any differently if I had to go through this process again. My co-residents were a great group of individuals and the pharmacists we worked with were amazing.
Post-residency, I accepted a position at The University of Tennessee Medical Center, where I am now a clinical pharmacist. So far things are going great. I’m getting acclimated with learning a new system and getting to know my co-workers. Outside of working, I really enjoy spending time with my daughter!
La’Travia Howard, PharmD, MBA, is a clinical pharmacist at The University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, TN. Her daughter essentially runs the show, so whatever she feels like doing that day is what they will do together. This usually entails going to the park or watching Zootopia, Cars, or The Grinch.