A doctor’s work includes patient contact, practice meetings, administrative tasks, and community engagement. Time not associated with work includes nutrition, sleep, exercise, activities for relaxation and pleasure, and interactions with family and friends. Balancing work and life can be challenging for doctors, especially when one also considers the other duties that make up life outside of work like having to buy groceries, doing the cleaning and laundry, and managing personal finance.
Viewing work as a negative, and life as a positive is unhelpful. Some doctors successfully integrate their research or extracurricular activities which they enjoy within their work day. These same individuals may also develop friendships within the practice and so achieve greater balance as they do not view their work and life as exclusive. This approach is not always possible, and so doctors generally need to develop additional strategies that will help them achieve a good work life balance.
Care is the most important quality a doctor gives. Care to their patients, to themselves, their friends and family, and their colleagues. When doctors are aware of what they most care about they are better able to make choices about how much time they devote to their work. A doctor with a young family for example, may decide to work fewer hours for their care than a doctor whose priority is to progress their career.
Time is the single most important resource that a doctor has some control over.
For a doctor, their care for their patients usually demands more of their time than their care for themselves, their family, and friends, and this can be a cause of stress and anxiety. Depending on the doctor’s temperament, it may be possible to limit, or at least recognize the boundaries of care, both emotionally and practically, as this can be helpful in regaining control. For some doctors however, care is not so easily restrained as their profession may be inextricably linked to a desire to serve. Nevertheless, it is valuable for all doctors to frequently review where and who they care most for.
Being aware of change allows doctors to better balance their lives. Change may occur within our bodies, our family or friends, or at work. When change happens, it is always valuable to note whether it impacts positively or negatively.
In times of great change, for example after a child is born, when someone close dies, when moving home, doctors should revisit their priorities to check they continue to meet their needs, and to balance their work and lives well.
Being aware of change allows doctors to better balance their lives. Change may occur within our bodies, our family or friends, or at work.
When change happens, it is always valuable to note whether it impacts positively or negatively.