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Dancing Doctors?


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After Kate B's thread about moving to Glasgow to do a PhD and keep dancing, and Xena's post about dancing and science, I thought I'd try a roll call of all of us adult dancers who dance hard and study hard, too.


I remember a thread on dancing doctors from about three years ago, so let's do a catch up(and it's Sunday morning!).


Who's recently started a PhD, or finished one? Who's done other tough, high-level study leading to advanced qualifications? And kept dancing!


I finished my PhD in 1990 (and I still have the scars!), and ballet and contemporary dance kept me sane. My field is literary studies and theatre, so after a day working with words and the minutiae of interpretation, it was always great to go to class and have to think visually, spatially, and kinaesthetically, not verbally.


What about the rest of you? How did/is ballet, or dance generally, help you get through?

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  • Redbookish


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Although I am now a mother of a DD and post on the 'parent' board, I am also a doctor who danced throughout my med school education---actually I started dancing during med school---first at a community education ballet class for adults, then taking private lessons with my teacher, and then taking ballet class at the university where I was attending med school. In fact, several of my classmates who had previously taken ballet began joining me, so there were several of us who continued to dance 'together' throughout med school. Over the last 25 years, I have continued to take class when I can, at times three times/week. Absolutely, dancing (mostly ballet) has been a refuge during the most stressful times of my life. Since I do it only for my own benefit (no performing!), I consider it to be a kind of meditation. It has always been a comfort to be able to step into any ballet class at any time and feel like I am coming home! Am not sure that we often talk about the therapeutic, balancing, and grounding nature of artistic pursuit, but I certainly believe in it!! In fact, my youngest DD, now 16, a few years ago gave the opinion that "if everyone danced, there would be no more wars." And I do agree with her.

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I like your DD's comment, golconda! Dancing truly keeps one sane. For me, though, it has been music as I regrettably forgot about ballet during the school year last year. If I didn't have orchestra as a refuge, then chemistry would've eaten me alive.


As a hopeful doctor (currently a double-majoring undergrad) I'd LOVE to hear how some of you real doctors (MDs and PhDs welcome!) managed to balance the stress of school and dance regularly. My biggest concern right now, other than the impending doom of the MCAT, is still being able to go to ballet or play in orchestra when I have to enter the real world. It must be quite a job, and even in my comparatively early years of school, I'm still trying to imagine how to survive my upcoming fall semester with my courseload, research, studying for the MCAT, music commitments, making top grades, AND still find time to walk a mile to the nearest studio at least once a week. :sweating:


How the heck do you dance in med school and as a doctor working long hours a each day? :yes:

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some of you real doctors (MDs and PhDs welcome!)


Hmm, La Musicienne - some people only count PhDs as REAL doctors!! :yes: Medicos don't necesarily have a doctoral degree, just Bachelors and/or Masters! My GP admitted to that just the other day ...


But, seriously, I think that even with a busy schedule, once you make a time & and absolutely shoehorn classs into your schedule, then you manage. The times when I've thought I was too busy to go to class, and that I really have to keep working till 8.30 pm (and there are too many of those times at the moment) I have to tell myself sternly that I won't actually work that long, and I'm better off getting to class for, as Golconda wisely says above, all the mental & physical refreshment it will give me.


And I think there's also been a thread here about amateur adult orchestras, so I'm sure you'll find somewhere to play when you graduate.


I think that for us, ballet/music are like golf & tennis for other people - seriuous hobbies, which give us much more than that word "hobby" suggest.

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I'm not sure if I fit this survey exactly--got my PhD over a decade (yikes!) ago and at that time my connection to ballet was limited to sitting in the audience at Boston Ballet. One of my few indulgences on my grad school income was a front-row subscription, and I often got additional student rush tickets.


The return to the barre occurred 5 years ago next month...

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I am getting my PhD in Dance (specialising in dance psychology) - hopefully will submit by 2008 :-)

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La Musicienne,


For sure, there were many occasions and stretches of time that I did not make it to ballet class (mostly during my clinical rotations in med school and pediatric residency when I was on call every 2nd to 3rd night). During my pediatric cardiology fellowship there was a little more time in general, and I ended up practicing pediatric emergency medicine, so in that subspeciality, I didn't necessarily work every day (I am now "retired" from clinical medical practice). Just like Redbookish, often when I thought I couldn't go , but just went, I felt and studied better afterwards!


Strategically, after medical school and residency/fellowship, this meant sometimes asking colleagues to switch call or work schedules or "cover me" (always reciprocated) to be able to get to class. Sometimes I would only have time for barre. I always had several possible classes to attend, because it was nearly impossible (and is, even now), to be a "regular" student at any one class. Since these are avocational classes, the teachers do not get upset about erratic attendance, and appreciate it when I am there and working hard. It also helps that in my community there are a fair number of Saturday and/or Sunday classes! I have had to come to terms, too, with an overall lack of progress and/or deterioration in my dancing abilities, not only becase of sporadic class, but also the effects of aging. This remains frustrating.


Although I think it is important for EVERYONE to take time to "recharge", it will be very important for you if you decide to become a physician---this career track means MANY years of crazy hours (upwards of 60 hrs/week) both during residency and afterward (even part-time physicians usually work at least 40 hours/week). As a care-giving profession with harsh training conditions, physicians get used to putting their own personal needs last---consequently they often take terrible care of themselves. And these days lots of people (mothers, people with multiple jobs, other demanding professions) are in the same boat.


For you ,both now and in the future, maybe just playing your instrument at home for 20-30 minute breaks would be a reasonable substitute, or putting on some music and stretching/ dancing at home---not like formally taking class or playing in an orchestra, but better than nothing. Just like anything else in life, it is all about priorities, balance, and organization---easier said than done! I certainly emphasize with your situation and can only advise you to find what works best for you. It can be done! Good luck!!!



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I'm a dancing PhD student, though the Dr title seems a long way off. I spent most of my second year in a bleak depression and now things seem pretty difficult, since I am very behind indeed, without further funding, and upset with myself for letting this happen when I had always planned to be done on time. But one day, maybe...

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Another (mostly lurking) dancing PhD student here. I'm part way through a PhD in public health/epidemiology. At the moment it feels pretty much like a life sentence - I find it so hard to get motivated when there are so many things I'd rather be doing (spending time with my two children, dancing - to name just a few!).

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some of you real doctors (MDs and PhDs welcome!)


Hmm, La Musicienne - some people only count PhDs as REAL doctors!! :yes: Medicos don't necesarily have a doctoral degree, just Bachelors and/or Masters! My GP admitted to that just the other day ...


In the US and Germany, at least, "Doctor" is assumed by both peoples as being the M.D. I have an anthropologist friend who's an Emergency Medical Technician because people kept assuming she was an M.D. and she kept getting phone calls at home asking for first aid help. She decided to run with the gag, and now she's certified through cardiac care. Go figure!


When the German Field Marshal Blucher was given an honorary doctorate, he quipped, "Well, if I'm a doctor now, then Gneisenau (his chief of staff) must become my apothecary; he knows the pills I prescribe!" Nobody to this day knows whether the old Prussian was making a pun, or whether he didn't actually know that there was more than one kind of doctor!

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Well, I'm a double one - PhD (Birmingham) and a DSc (Cambridge), but as I'm not a "real"doctor (not legally allowed to cut people up or give them pills) I keep my title quiet - especially on travel documents, in case on a long-haul flight I'm asked to rescue someone from certain death using just a coathanger and teaspoon. But how nice to have a "real" doctor in class - "hey, [insert name], come and look at my ankle, knee, muscle, etc!"



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At only one class a week, I can hardly call myself much of a dancer. But I DO have a PhD (Evolutionary Biology). Alas, the dancing and studies did not overlap, as I completed the PhD in '95 and didn't start dancing until a couple of years ago. I don't think I could have even managed one class a week during my student days, as I had two small children and viewed my "off" time as theirs. Besides, ballet wasn't even on my horizon until my kids started dancing!

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without further funding,


I can definitely related to funding issues :D

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I *started* ballet when I was doing my PhD, something active and creative to get me away from my desk and to keep me sane. It was a long time ago, and I never stopped dancing.

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I finished my PhD (Literature at York, UK) about a year and a half ago and I danced all through it - at first up in York and then moved back to London for the last few years. It was a fantastic balance to all that time spent in libraries and over computers. It used my brain in a totally different way and made sure I didn't forget about my body either. I completely forgot about any work stress once I'd got past plies. I really think it helped me get through. Working on a thesis, especially in the arts when you are often working in quite an isolated way for most of the time, can leave your life lacking structure, and the progress is slow - ballet classes gave me structure in my week, discipline and a sense of achievement and improvement in an immediately tangible form. In fact, although I've always loved dancing, I think it really sunk in and stuck for good during the years I was studying and writing for my PhD. I realised I needed it.

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