Physicians spend from 10 to 15 years, sometimes more, in school and advanced training before beginning practice. Even though we begin receiving a stipend during residency, compared to the number of hours required, the financial return is minimal. Most physicians are in their late 20s to early 30s before earning a salary comparable with their training. And they often start out hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
So you might expect that once in practice, doctors would work at it for life, and most do. But a significant number don’t. After all those years, some doctors realize that medicine is not for them, either because they don’t find the work satisfying and fulfilling, or because their personal and family life suffers, or a combination of these and other factors.
Doctors solve this dilemma in various ways. Some redirect their career to a different specialty, which usually requires going back into training and completing yet another residency. Some change to a non-clinical medical position- administration, teaching, consulting. Some continue using their medical knowledge by writing, speaking, consulting, teaching, in a non-healthcare setting.
One physician did none of these. Several months ago I shared a guest post from another woman doctor who faced a similar dilemma. She solved her problem in an unconventional creative way. Here is her story, followed by an update.
My Unexpected, Crazy Journey from Medicine to Fashion
“Hi! My name is Joanne Jarrett, and I am a retired family physician. Not the “golden years” kind of retired, but rather the “retired sounds better than I quit” kind.
a career in the making
If you’d told me in my twenties that I would be designing loungewear for women and preparing to move to a farm in rural Montana in my mid-forties, I’d have said you had the wrong girl. I was a determined, sharp, ambitious, successful medical student and resident, and I was planning to have it all.
My husband and I wanted kids, but that would have to wait until all of our training was complete. We took turns going through our residency programs, and we moved home to Reno, Nevada from a two year stint in Lincoln, Nebraska with 24 weeks of my first pregnancy under our belts and a new practice to run.
Needless to say, my being a stay-at-home mom was not plan A for our family.
a fast track career
When I became pregnant, I was working a full time family practice, seeing patients at 3 hospitals before and/or after my full day, doing urgent care some nights and weekends, and taking call for our large group a week at a time every 7 weeks. I knew that schedule was completely incompatible with motherhood, but we thought I’d work 2 or 3 days a week and have my mom nanny while I worked.
Then Delaney was born, and reality set in.
I realized that I didn’t have room inside of me to be the physician my patients deserved and to be the wife and mother I wanted for my family. I already knew that during those 6 years of marriage before kids I worked hard all day, gave every bit of myself away piece by piece, and then came home and offered my husband the crappy leftovers. He knew how hard I was trying and didn’t complain much.
It worked, but a baby tipped the scales. We couldn’t both work jobs where emergencies make the schedule predictably unpredictable. I was exhausted and knew there was no way I could face the emotional lability and intellectual demand of being a physician in my state. And I loved being with that baby girl. When I was away from her I felt an undeniable tug back.
Then Bailey arrived less than 2 years later and it was decided. I was staying home. For good.
a career crossroads
At first, I was in survival mode and didn’t care about the changes I saw in myself. I just wanted sleep and ice cream. But eventually I started to wonder if who I used to be would ever matter again and how to find her.
Over a decade in, that woman is back. But she’s better than she used to be. More patient. More settled. More fulfilled. Less scared. Looking back, I’ve transitioned from professional to harried new mom to seasoned household CEO, self respect and vigor for life mostly intact!
Running my family has been pretty much all consuming, but I’ve always had a creative side and, through the years, I have developed hobbies that foster that. Scrapbooking made sense when the kids were babies. Combining creativity with a means of wrangling the millions of photos we were taking was a win win.
A limited decorating budget and a very picky décor taste lead to me borrowing my mom’s sewing machine and making an entire house worth of curtains, learning on the fly.
And I have always had a thing for wrapping a beautiful gift. To the point where I have a whole wall full of paper, ribbons, and other do-bobs to help me wrap a stunner at a moment’s notice.
Sewing flat, square things like curtains and pillow covers slowly evolved into kids’ costumes and then street clothes. I have a thing for fabric, and the combination of creativity and precision that following a pattern requires satisfies my creative flair and my bent towards the analytical.
I began altering clothes in my closet to better fit my (ever varying, eye roll!) shape and began seeing the potential in clothes instead of the mere reality of what was on the hanger.
I also have a passion for downtime. This wasn’t always the case. Scott and I have been married 20 years, and at first I had no idea how to relax. Saturday would come and I’d say, “What do you want to do today?”
From the couch, he’d say “this!”
My skin would crawl .I just didn’t know how to have a recovery or leisure day.
Well, I’ve learned well! You’ll never catch me hanging around at home in my jeans and underwire bra. Huh-uuuuh! As soon as I get home at the end of the day, I head straight to my closet to get into my cozy clothes. I live in them when I’m home. Even if I’m busy with this and that, I like the psychological change triggered by putting on those comfy clothes.
But those clothes aren’t perfect. I’m setting out to change that! We need a little coverage and support despite that fact that the bra is off the team at home. I discovered shelf-bra camis and began wearing them as loungewear and pajamas. I could never figure out why this concept wasn’t expanded into other pieces.
a career changes directions
After years of googling “shelf bra pajamas” and “shelf bra nightgown” and coming up with nothing except slinky lingerie (get real!!), I decided to design a line of cozy loungewear for women who want to be comfortable at home in something soft, cute, flattering and supportive. Something that feels and looks great to wear in the “no bra zone” but that is fit for public consumption should the need arise. I figured if I couldn’t find them, I’d make them and maybe other ladies will like them too.
And not all shelf bras are created equally, if you know what I mean. I set out to design the perfectly soft but flattering shelf that has enough thickness for coverage and enough separation to look great. I embarked upon a know-nothing journey into apparel production and have learned an entirely new industry over the last year.
I call the line “Shelfies.” Shelfie Shoppe launched on May 8th , 2018 taking preorders as part of a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first production run.”
Where Shelfie Shoppe is now
In March 2019, Joann posted an update about the project on her blog (although she had been sending updates to her Kickstarter supporters, like me, all along). In the update she details all the bumps and unexpected detours that repeatedly slowed down her journey. I encourage you to read about it at the link I will give you, but here is a sample of what got in the way of progress.
- She had to change factories when the one she contracted with lost too many employees.
- A fabric she counted on using was unexpectedly not available.
- A pattern piece wasn’t fitting correctly.
- They had the wrong bra pads.
- Her family moved and while staying temporarily in a camper, she didn’t have WiFi, making communication with her suppliers almost impossible.
What Joanne has learned on her journey
“It has been said that the most common cause of failure for entrepreneurs is simply giving up. After this roller coaster, I can see how that happens.
Discouragement can feel like eminent defeat, but they are not one and the same. I have allowed myself to get down-hearted at times, but difficulty is not a worthy adversary to my determination and perseverance. I am excited about Shelfie Shoppe, but like infatuation, excitement is fleeting.
Strength of will and commitment will get me to the finish line and excitement will be there to meet me.”
What we can learn from Joanne’s example
When the circumstances of life leave us feeling
• unfulfilled or
we may need to evaluate if change is necessary.
It may not be as drastic a change as she made, but even small steps can get us to a place where we can use our talents and passions to create a life that satisfies us and blesses others.
However, we can expect bumps and snags along the way, which may seem like insurmountable problems but can be opportunities for learning and growth that we didn’t anticipate.
Here is Joanne’s update. Check it out and follow her blog to find out what happens next. And when I get my shelfie dress from her, I’ll post a photo and tell you all about it.
HERE’S THE LATEST IN THE CLOTHING LINE SAGA. KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN SUCCESS AND THE BUMPS THAT FOLLOWED!
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