So much is asked of doctors, and though it is of utmost importance to be readily available and dedicated to your patients, it’s useful to look at yourself objectively once in a while and realize–doctors are people, too.
Maintaining balance within your life is a major key to success in the workplace. Your patients will receive the best care when you feel your best. Follow these five tips on balancing your professional and personal life, in order to be the best doctor for each one of your patients:
1. Prioritize, multitask when appropriate, and schedule.
It’s important to recognize what types of tasks require your immediate attention, and which ones do not. Sometimes you just have to tell yourself that “this one last thing” won’t get done today–and that’s okay. Keeping a schedule, even for minute tasks, helps you plan out your day, and get an idea of how much time you truly spend on each activity you’re responsible for. Start logging times in a journal, taking note of interruptions and distractions. Share this information with your staff to keep everyone informed. Once you fall into a system of prioritizing and scheduling, you’ll feel comfortable and in control.
2. Spend time every day with a non-work friend or family member.
Schedule a lunch with an old friend, and eat dinner with your family. A quick chat with someone outside of work will free your mind of stressors. Even just temporarily, this will help provide a sense of refreshment to your day, and it will tremendously help prevent the dreaded sense of burnout–something that should be avoided at all costs in a position of such importance.
3. Ask your family what they need from you.
This will help open your eyes to the point of view of those closest to you. Maybe they’ll ask you to be more available to them while you’re at work, or maybe they’ll ask you to be more available while you’re at home–even if the answer is just “more time”, this may lead to a realization for you. Work with those you love in a way that will lead to a stronger support system. If you’re stressed at work, coming home to more stress is not conducive to a balanced lifestyle.
4. Be mindful.
There’s much to be said about stopping to smell the roses. It’s important to be mindful everywhere you are. Think about what is happening in the moment, rather than thinking about what’s going on later, or tomorrow. Especially when you are with your patient, it is imperative for your mind to be caught up with the rest of you. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, work stressors cause a majority of doctors to experience burnout–mentally, physically, and emotionally. More mindful physicians create happier patients. When you are focused on the conversation–when you are truly dedicated to what your patient is saying, he or she will notice. Mindfulness is not just a thing to do, or a task to complete–it is a lifestyle change.
5. Don’t feel guilty about taking time off
You won’t be able to provide your best care if you overwork, so it is essential to take some extended time for yourself when needed. Arrange your assistants and staff so that your duties will be covered, and have a plan in mind for any unexpected situation that may arise. If you are well-prepared, there’s no reason for you to feel ashamed for leaving the office. It is also wise to have a plan in place for days where you have to leave unexpectedly. Give yourself and your team the same courtesy you give your patients.
There’s no argument that being a doctor is much more than simply having a job, but like anyone else with a career, you must be able to balance out your professional life and personal life. Experiencing symptoms of burnout is dangerous for you, your family, and your patients. Be the best doctor you can be by focusing on all aspects of your health.
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