Physician Fathers: How They Balance Kids and Care
Patients expect their doctors’ full attention and dedication. So too do the children who call physicians dad.
Finding ways to balance those priorities is challenging, but it also comes with some vivid rewards for Avera doctors who will be celebrating Father’s Day this weekend.
“There’s a reality with being a physician, of knowing so many things others might not be aware of, and facing them daily in the neonatal ICU,” said Justin Sharp, MD, Avera Medical Group neonatologist. “At the same time, there are daily reminders of the blessings my wife and I have. It’s a unique perspective to have, one where I realize grace allows me to be there for families who have babies who are sick.”
Sharp and his wife, Jessica, are parents of 2-year-old twin sons. He said harmonizing a busy home life with them, and the reality of his medical profession take communication as well as patience.
“We realize the necessity of nights off, for each of us, and for us separately, so that we can refresh and be better parents,” he said. “When I’m on call, I realize the challenges Jessica faces with the boys. It’s a busy place at work – but it’s a busy place at home, too. That’s why we’re intentional with our time spent, regardless of where we are. We realize the value in being present and being there for one another.”
Chad Thury, DO, Avera Medical Group family practitioner also will celebrate Father’s Day with his four children – two sons and two daughters – who range in age from 7 to 2. He and his wife, Bobbi, realize teamwork is a key to keeping up with hectic schedules that include everything from swimming lessons and tennis to patient visits and clinic shifts.
“We put kids as priority and work closely together so they know they are No. 1 on our list, no matter what,” Thury said. “As with anything in life, communication goes a long way toward making things work out, and no week is the same as the last, so we plan, we talk and we find help from folks who can provide it.”
That might mean visits from grandparents at home, but it also means a good team at the office.
“From our clinic manager to the other doctors, we all understand that kids can get sick, and that life happens,” he said. “Most of my patients understand as well. I get to know my patients and they will want to know how the kids are doing if I missed an appointment to take care of one of the kids.”
Thury said that he and his wife will “be there” when it’s time for family. That means the emails from work and the phone calls have to wait.
“Time is precious, so we give them 100 percent of our attention when we are together. We set work aside,” said Thury. “We’ll all go together for a bike ride or just to the park and enjoy it.”
Life balance is important for all physicians – not just fathers, Sharp says.
“It’s important for any physician, not just one who is a dad, to sit down and have that conversation with the family and determine priorities in life,” he said. “You have only so much devotion you can bring to your life so you have to stay on the same page and work together to make sure you’re not missing out or overlooking things. There can be many demands, but so many blessings as well.”