Between work, family and home commitments, many physician dads struggle to find time to seek advice from their peers about fatherhood or career goals. Making time to socialize and hone in on the dad joke craft is even more difficult.
Creating a support network for physician dads is exactly what Johnny Dias, DO, had in mind when he formed Physician Dads’ Group (PDG) in July 2015.
“As a hospitalist, I spend time consulting people for their expertise every day,” says Dr. Dias. “But the nicest thing about PDG is that I can get advice from a much bigger network that spans across many specialties.”
While the group plans to create their own website, PDG is currently open to all physician dads on Facebook and has over 3,200 members who can turn to one another for guidance. PDG helps guide physician dads on child-rearing issues and career decisions, and also provides an outlet for laughter, Dr. Dias says.
Up until last June, Dr. Dias and his wife, who is also an internist, were full-time active duty physicians working to raise three kids while also establishing their careers. Life as transient military physicians made finding trusted pediatric advice difficult.
PDG members helped fill in the gaps, he says, providing needed advice for dads that isn’t easily found online.
“You try to search online for childcare questions and almost every result directs you to a mothers’ forum,” he says. “PDG members are really involved in raising their children. We’re not just saying ‘Let Mom deal with that.’ We want answers and want to be able to help.”
PDG provides a space where dads can network and seek mentorship in their spare time. The group also serves as a source of support for physician dads in need of career guidance.
“In residency, I was very fortunate to be surrounded by bright and intelligent people who you can rely on and learn from,” says Dr. Dias. “In practice, the difference is you’re the expert and people are looking to you for answers. I’m early in my career, and I need more mentors. This is an avenue where I have people to reach out to if I need some help.”
However, PDG isn’t a place where only new physicians look for guidance. Seasoned physicians looking for supplemental income ideas and those transitioning out of clinical practice have sought advice from PDG members too, Dr. Dias notes.
“There is a lot of diversity in regard to age, specialty and location,” says Dr. Dias. “PDG is a great support system for those who face similar challenges in our decision-making.”
Cracking dad jokes
While parenting and career-planning questions are popular, Dr. Dias says putting a group of medical professionals together inevitably creates social bonds.
“It’s just like at the hospital where there’s a lot of tragedy and different emotions, but one constant that helps us cope with difficulty is laughter,” he says.
PDG humor is a bit more specialized than your average dad jokes, as some of the most popular physician blog writers like ZZ Dogg MD and contributors from GomerBlog, known as “The Onion” for healthcare professionals, are members.
Life as a physician dad can make finding time to socialize and getting to know people outside of your kids’ network difficult, Dr. Dias says.
That’s why one of PDG’s biggest goals is to plan member meet-ups.
“It would essentially be a guy’s weekend,” says Dr. Dias. “Or maybe a trip with the kids because we are always looking for good role models for them.”