I was recently at a team building retreat with one of the groups I am a part of at work. We had a “get to know you” question and answer session and someone asked me a question that I was not expecting. “If you could put a billboard up in Times Square, what would it say?” he asked. This really caught me off guard. After a moment’s thought I replied, “Find a job where you don’t hate Mondays.” Not the most catchy phrase for a billboard, but it completely summarizes the place where I find myself as a mid-career physician scientist and embodies my hopes for my three children.

So why do I love Mondays (and Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, and…?)

  1. Monday morning meetings with trainees. This is a “parade of stars” type event where my research group co-PI and I meet with each of our trainees for 15 minutes. Things often heard at these meetings: “Let me show you these data…” or “I was thinking I could…” or “My abstract got accepted as an oral presentation…” or “I have a new niece…” We never know what’s coming but it’s always interesting. We laugh, we cry, we analyze, we plan, we critique, we support, we advise, we listen, we learn. It’s great fun!
  2. I read cool science! I have a bit of time between morning meetings and Pulmonary Grand Rounds so I peruse the literature. Sometimes it’s directed based on a topic that came up in morning meetings. Other times I just browse. Regardless, I learn something. I recently read this super cool paper about placental senescence and its association with peripartum cardiomyopathy and pre-eclampsia (DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.adi0077). Mind blown! I can’t get over the fact that this is part of my job!
  3. Pulmonary Grand Rounds (PGR). This is a weekly scientific talk from a local or invited speaker. The topics are very broad. Today might be about mechanisms of small airway injury in COPD and next week might be about a new pragmatic trial from our ICU research group. Whatever the topic, I sit and take notes with what I am pretty sure is the best pen ever in the history of pens (Pilot Juice Up 0.4). Try it and tell me it’s not the most satisfying pen to write with! PGR is also a time to convene with colleagues, something that I crave after the isolation of COVID.
  4. Writing and editing. Now that my creative juices are flowing, I am ready to do some writing and editing. I didn’t realize it when I first started in science, but being a PI of a lab is being a professional writer. I use this time to make progress on one of my own writing “assignments” like this blog post, a clinical trial protocol, an aims page for a grant or a manuscript draft. If I’m not feeling it, I use the time to review and edit a trainee’s grant or paper. Either way, words are getting on paper and new knowledge is being communicated. There’s a certain satisfaction in seeing a page full of words that was so recently empty.
  5. Meeting du jour. No, this is not a typo. I actually like (most) meetings. In any given week, I might have meetings with a new collaborator to talk about a potential project, with a graduate student who is preparing for a qualifying exam, with my lab manager who has come up with an innovative solution to a lab problem, with my colleague to review charts from research subjects and phenotype for critical illness syndromes, or with a post-doc to review a data set for a paper. Honestly, all of these meetings are fun because they include brainstorming, exchange of ideas, problem solving, mentorship, mentee-ship, feedback, praise.
  6. Picking up my kids. After a busy and interesting day at work, I’m excited to go pick up my kids, cook dinner, and spend the evening with them. A fulfilling work life enhances my family life and vice versa. I share something about my day (often with a not-so-hidden life lesson) like how I messed up an experiment and they share something fun or crazy about their day – like how a squirrel fell through the ceiling in the classroom. We laugh together, go to bed, and do it all over again on Tuesday which, BTW, I also love.

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Strategic Procrastination

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Saleem says:

Very exciting and fulfilling!

Kathryn Margaret Edwards says:

I loved your positive approach to Mondays and to life.  It is so inspiring to be led by a positive leader.  After 42 years at Vanderbilt I retired 18 months ago and I now can read and learn new things full-time.  Always focusing on the donut and not the whole is a great way to live. Thanks Julie, you are an inspiring leader. k 

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