For those in the healthcare industry, it can be hard to switch off once the day is done. Medical careers, whether intentionally or not, have a way of forcing you to rearrange your life. Apart from the years of in-depth training that has left us missing social functions, special events and countless hours of sleep, our needs are also put to the back of mind once we start our role in healthcare.
Even outside of those work hours, there is research, networking and overtime. Of course we also need to mention the hours spent thinking about work even while outside the office walls questioning treatments, thinking about the outlook of patients, or dealing with the emotional consequences of a death or terminal illness of someone you are treating.
For most people in the health industry, being a doctor isn’t just something you do, it is who you are. This fact often leaves us feeling that a work/life balance is not going to be plausible. However, getting that distance from work and looking after yourself is essential for health and overall wellbeing.
Here are some ways doctor can work towards a good work/life balance.
Treat yourself like a patient
It is ironic that the people who choose to look after others have the hardest time looking after themselves. We consistently tell our patients to eat right, to get enough rest, to take time off when we are getting overworked and to take care of our mental health, but how many doctors adhere to the same advice?
While the job can be demanding, and getting that 8 hours sleep, 3 healthy meals and personal time may not be achievable every day, we should set aside time every now and then to treat ourselves as a patient. What would you tell a patient who felt like you did?
In order to provide the best care to others, our minds and our bodies need to be in optimal condition.
Adjust your time on-call
Working on-call full or part time can make it extremely difficult to get out of work mode. If you are able, adjust your on-call schedule to ensure you are getting adequate down time between shifts. While there may not be someone to cover for you each and every week, try and alternate between busier and more relaxed weeks.
Take time out to appreciate what you do
It can be all too easy sometimes to be so consumed by what we are doing that we forget why we are doing it. Remind yourself just how important you are and the fact you are helping others to live better lives. Take time to appreciate the amazing work you are doing and think about the patients who have thanked you for your help.