Writing Conference #2 and “kids these days”

Thanks to my wonderfully supportive family, I was able to spend another weekend at a writing conference. This one in NYC – what a zoo!!! How does anyone live in crowds and traffic like that? She says sitting on her porch at the lake with only 2 dogs with a mile. Anyway, the conference was again educational, though not nearly as much as the smaller conference. And much less collegial. True, many participants were New Yorkers instead of Pacific Northwesterners but I think the New York state of (never) mind must be instilled at the border. I met a few great people, but not like in Seattle. Several more agents requested partials of my novel, but I’ve decided to pay for a professional critique first, to get it optimized before the next round of rejections…

I started teaching medical students and residents full time in 1996. That’s nearly 20 years for the mathematically challenged, which apparently includes many writers. I can’t separate my growing curmudgeonliness (is that a word?) with real changes in work ethic, but my goodness residents today seem worlds apart. “When I was a resident…” no, the hospital wasn’t uphill in the snow, but things were vastly different. Few of us had kids, less than half were even married. We went in knowing we were putting off life until after residency. Right or wrong, that’s just how it was. It was an investment in our future careers.  Not that we didn’t complain about 36-hour days and being in-house for New Year’s Eve and Christmas, but that’s how it was. We did as we were told, including whatever our supervising faculty instructed. You did it their way, respecting their superior knowledge and experience. Not so much in 2015. This week I was explaining to a group of residents how to place a labor epidural. Granted there are innumerable nuances, but I tell them to learn from each attending, and when they graduate, they can pick and choose features from each of us to incorporate in their own practice. One of those residents, though, with his vast 4 weeks experience in OB anesthesia, explained he would not be taking my advice. “We all have our own ways,” he said. As if we were colleagues bantering about our equivalent expertise.  Curmudgeon alert, but come on – I’ve honed my skills over thousands of epidurals, do I really have nothing to offer someone who has done less than 50?

On reading about managing Generation Y and Millenials, I’ve learned a bit about their expectations (a decent book is “Not Everyone Gets a Trophy“. They don’t automatically respect elders or superiors, and they don’t expect to have to earn respect themselves. They should be one of the gang from the outset, as highly valued as a 30 year veteran. These are qualities we as parents have inadvertently instilled, and I apologize in advance for my own children, though I naively hope they don’t fit this mold.

In the coming weeks we’ll be dropping two kids off at college, with one a junior in high school. Probably not the best time to reassess a career that is keeping them fed and clothed. So instead I’ll have to find a way to earn the residents’ respect. Beatings? Cookies? So many options…

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