Leaving it all on the field

Last Friday night I stayed up later than I intended, focused on getting a manuscript submitted.  That’s not a particularly big deal (I wanted it to be done before I left on a quick weekend trip from which work was banned).

However, there are reasons that this manuscript is a Very Big Deal:

  • The topic. It’s a known that I have tremendous passion around women in academic surgery and mentors in surgery. This paper pulls those two things together in a way that simply hasn’t been done before.
  • The time. I worked on my very first project about mentors and surgery during my research time/ SERF fellowship as a resident. Shortly thereafter I wanted to dig into this more deeply, trying to identify what mentoring can and should look like for women in academic surgery.  I “accidentally” got the information I wanted in the context of a broader study I have been working on for the last three years. So, the time points here are 10 years on this idea, and 3 years on the data collection/ analysis/ writing.  It has been a long process.  As best I can tell, sticking with it has been worth it.

Friday night at 10:28 Mountain Daylight Time I submitted.  Saturday morning I got up and had that sense that accompanies the submission of any work that we put our “all” into, when I internalize, “What if they don’t love it as much as I do?”  The reality is that people may not share my passion for these topics and they may not value the use of grounded theory to dig into these topics.  For my less senior readers, I want to help normalize for you that sense you get when you submit your first manuscript or a manuscript that you poured your heart and soul into. When you’re sharing work you’re particualrly invested in, it can be hard to make yourself get it done because you know that you’re sharing a piece of who you are. That vulnerability…it never, ever gets easier as best I can tell. The last time I felt this way was when I submitted our first disruptive surgeons manuscript; again, something I’m really passionate about and want people to care about as much as I do.  And, again, reality dictates that not everyone will care and not everyone will want to hear about the stories that resulted in our theory…but a few people thought it was important enough and well-executed enough that it should be shared.  I can only wish the same for this new project.

So, why am I rambling about vulnerability and risk taking in our academic work?  Because it’s real.  Because this stuff takes time.  Because if you truly care about the work that you’re doing and what you’re contributing it’s going to be scary.

It’s also going to be amazing.