Life Member Report
Carrie Sylvester, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.C.A.P.
A common theme in "lifer" reports that I read is continuing work in some aspect of our field while exploring other interests. My retirement started when I serendipitously learned of a Seattle job with no weekend, holiday, or night call duties. I was enjoying my work with Mina Dulcan as training director at what is now the Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. However, my youngest child had finished high school and mountains, the sea air, old friends and family connections in the west beckoned. It is humorous to consider working full time as semi-retired, but having all of my weekends, holidays, and nights free seemed like semi-retirement.
I have been at Sound Mental Health (SMH), a private non-profit agency, for ten years as Senior Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. I recently reduced my hours to Tuesday through Thursday which feels very manageable. SMH is a team system of care as well as a training site for therapists. SMH also provides child and adolescent management evaluation and treatment support for the Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress Center at Harborview Medical Center (HMC). That consultation has been a sentimental homecoming. I did most of my clinical rotations in medical school at HMC, my mentor when I was in health services graduate school was the first pediatric consultant when that program was founded, and my first psychiatric faculty position included working in the HMC emergency room. My job recently expanded to include work with the Deaf Services Program that resides in the children and family services program. The most gratifying part of that work has been improving diagnosis for patients who have not been seen by therapists with particular expertise in deaf culture and communication. It has been interesting to work intensively with deaf culture. Due to that I have also recently joined the relevant AACAP committee.
Keeping up with information technology in medicine is another facet of my semi-retirement. Having electronic medical records and prescription services as well as the front line outreach therapists having smart phones and laptop computers makes it possible to be in secure, rapid communication. That communication with therapist/case managers who are dealing with complex, acute and chronic cases in the field, in addition to regular team consultation enhances medical management. I share this experience to optimistically indicate that the richness of our training and experience remains valued in well organized systems of care.
Enough of work - except to say that I continue to volunteer time to AACAP, WSCCAP, ABPN, and Washington DSHS. I enjoy being nearer my friends and family in the west tempered by the loss of easy access to my many friends elsewhere. My three sons are all in Seattle for now. My seven siblings and their children are scattered since North Dakota's biggest export isn't oil, grain, sugar beets, or potatoes, but its young people. Thus, visiting family and friends is a big part of my travels - sometimes with Charley a 4 year old, 6 pound Maltese dog. The longest trek that I made last year was to Melbourne, Australia to be with one of my brothers who has been there since the early 1970's and his wife, a native of that city. I also enjoyed spending two weeks in North Dakota with my now 92 year old mother. She was still in her home for the last summer before moving to assisted living to avoid navigating stairs or driving in harsh winter weather any longer much to the relief of her children.
My home is a constant work in progress and a bit small to have "bounce-back" with rotating sons returning to school here. Nevertheless, I love the smell of the sea from my yard and the view of the Olympic Mountains. I have been active in our homeowners' association that works to preserve the midcentury modern character of our neighborhood and the valuable views across Puget Sound. I love theater and have been exploring local offerings in addition to continuing to periodically see shows in New York with nieces and grand-nieces as well as a friendship of over 40 years drawing me there. Summer brings the classic rock concerts outdoors at Chateau St. Michelle where we did not get rained out once last summer. I have been collecting concert tee shirts including the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary and Ringo Starr with the All Star Band to wear at the next AACAP meeting since it will be a casual one celebrating our 60th anniversary meeting at Disneyworld. See you there!