At times, with being from Alaska, professionally...its easy to feel like a small fish in a big tank.
Last month when I was at the Sections of Women Health conference, I went to a Section of Women's Health chapter happy hour. It was held in a very loud, hip bar serving electric colored martinis and there were lots of women there with a shared enthusiasm for women's health. It was a step outside my comfort zone...entering a party where I didn't know anyone. When I entered the Women's Health host put a string of mardi gras beads around my neck and introduced me to someone and from that moment conversations took off. But, as I"m discovering...its those moments when growth happens!
Throughout the night I exchanged a few business cards, and gave away a couple. I articulated to a couple of women how I wanted to check out the national scene somehow-something that could make a difference for women. I was vague...wasn't even sure if I wanted to do anything on the national scene.
After the conference, I didn't follow up with any of the women and thought that perhaps I didn't have the time, anyhow, to take on such an endeavor.
Or, more honestly, perhaps I didn't even know where to start or who to bug. At conferences where you meet the "movers and shakers"...the women who are big on the collegiate level or research levels, I left wondering if I really have anything to offer.
A week ago I received an e-mail from a woman, Susan, who is on the board of Section of Women's Health. She said she had received my name as a person who would be interested in helping develop clinical practice guidelines for women in the post-partum time.
As I re-read the e-mail, I kept thinking, "Wow....how did she find me, or remember me?" I didn't remember giving her my card, or if I did, she said very confidently, "Plesae contact me if you're interested in helping."
She found me. And my name was along with two other women I didn't know on the e-mail.
Today we had a conference call....3 other women on the other line from Pittsburg, Denver and New Jersey. All very accomplished, newly graduated with research and women's health experience.
"Just to let you all know, I've been up here in Alaska doing clinical practice, but I've had very little contact with new research since graduating." I informed them in full disclosure.
"I won't be much help if what you are looking for is someone to obtain research articles."
It felt good to be honest about who I am, what I am and am not capable of. The ladies immediately responded that they are glad to have someone who is a sole clinician on the team to help decide what articles are clinically pertinent or not, and they are all in university setting with access to articles.
At the end of the conversation, the leader asked that we share a little bit about ourselves, where we are, what we do, etc. The other ladies are professors, accomplished researchers. Then there was me...
My story of being raised in Alaska. Returning. Becoming a Doula. Attending 50 births in that capacity. Teaching birth classse. Caring very much for women. Feeling like women are neglected in the post-partum time.
And a career A-ha moment followed when the women on the other end of the line responded so excitedly at my experience. "Oh I want a doula for the birth of my next child, " one piped in. They kept saying "Wow!". It took me by surprise and I somehow felt validated for doing the small town rural work that I've been doing. Its not that I need validation for the work...the work I do is incredibly rewarding to me. Its just that I never imagined that researcher PT's in the big city would necessarily see it that way.
The women on the other ends of the phone line this morning all want to see the care of women change in the post-partum time. Our similar passion drives us in this project.
I got off the phone feeling like I DO have something to offer this group. A few tears of excitement welled in my eyes. I really liked the energy of the ladies on the phone. And in this process of helping develop the guidelines, I"m going to learn a lot about the current womens health research.
Feeling pleased.... because the 'Big Tank' isn't quite so big, afterall.