Financial Preparedness, Retirement

Balancing Act - Work/Life Balance Tied to Career Satisfaction

July 07, 2011

It's proven. For physicians, career satisfaction is closely related to burnout and work-life balance.

Many of my physician friends are workaholics. Illness and accidents don't take holidays. Physicians don't either. So when I ask them about work-life balance, I get chuckles that a buzzword like that doesn't apply to them. But my daily work is about preserving the financial health of America's physicians through sickness and health. By nature of what I experience in our business everyday, I've seen gifted physicians burn out and leap into a career change.

Work-life balance for physicians is about making sure you keep stress from disrupting your effectiveness.

Delegate

A big deal for work-life balance, which is difficult for solo practices, is a good management team. Leaders think they have to do it all, and that's a huge mistake. Those that delegate and don't micro-manage have much better balance.

Rely on your nurses, fellow physicians, and staff when you can. Regular communication is the key. Fill in your team on the events and times you take for yourself and your family. Explore how new technologies, such as tablets or Skype, can foster open communication channels in your office. This way they'll know you aren't dropping the ball on any duties, you are handing it to them in an effort to facilitate a more productive work environment.

A Routine for Recreation

I take time to get some exercise either in the morning or evening to help manage stress. The work email checking stops after dinner, that's either time for me to be with family or to focus on non-work things I like to do. If folks have a vital issue, they know my cell phone number, but they also know I look at things first thing in the morning. Establishing a routine with your team is a good idea.

Physicians have long, inconsistent hours that make routines a difficult accomplishment, but that doesn't mean you can't create a list of stress reducing activities to engage in when you're on call or during your time before and after shifts. Exercise, meditation, light reading, and other stress-reducing activities give you a mental break from the stressors of the job.

The issue of long hours is a constant debate. The new 16-hour day for residents is just the latest attempt to try to address the issue. But with no solution in sight to the long days, it's even more important to find those moments to yourself through your shift.

Take the Vacation

It may seem like more stress to find the time to plan and take that vacation you keep thinking about. Rely on your family and friends to help out with the planning. Or just spend your time at home. As important as your job is, it's also important to take a break now and then. I can't encourage you enough to take advantages of life's opportunities: see the countries you've been putting off or spend that summer vacation with the kids before they head off to college. Too many of my physician friends suffer burnout early, full of stress and regrets.

Taking the steps to make time for yourself and your family can increase your productivity while you are working and help you accomplish more professionally. More time for your nonworking life decreases stress and the chance of burning out, so you can keep providing care to those who need you.

What activities do you take part in when you aren't at work? How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance? 

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