If you’re a medical student, juggling between school, work, and personal life can seem impossible. Yet, it’s possible. You can learn how to balance your work, school, and life in many ways you never even thought you could, just like Dr. Jason Cambell of OHSU did before his professional career.
Physicians are expected to work an average of 51.4 hours per week, but nearly a fourth work 61 to 80 hours. These hours are not without challenges, including finding the time for family and rest. The question is, how can a physician achieve a balance between work and home life? According to Dr. Arun Saini, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, work-life balance is becoming increasingly important to physicians.
A study of the COVID-19 pandemic found that the United States falls behind the rest of the industrialized world in work-life balance. A lack of benefits for front-line workers is one of the biggest factors. The lack of benefits, however, leaves many front-line workers unable to achieve a work-life balance, which is crucial to protecting health and managing stress. As such, the medical profession must address this issue to ensure that employees can lead fulfilling lives and protect their families.
Women are increasingly represented in the medical profession in the United States, representing 52% of medical students and 46% of residents in 2018-2019. However, research shows that the domestic responsibilities of women are not changing much. While this is encouraging, some people take offense to the concept. The lack of an ideal echo system can lead to conflicts and reduced healthcare quality. But a healthy physician can contribute to patient care, cost reduction, and a minimum workforce attrition rate.
Finding a work-life balance while in medical school
As a medical student, you should consider what type of work environment you’d like to create for yourself. There’s nothing worse than meeting a potential boss and being told to “come back when you’re ready” or “you can talk about that later.” This might sound like the best way to avoid appearing lazy or unprofessional to a potential employer, but this approach is not always ideal.
There are many ways to find a work-life balance while in medical training. For one thing, medical school is hard, but it’s possible to have a family and still have a career. By planning ahead, you can have quality family time and still have time for work. You can also consider different specialties that require less time on call and choose a career path that works for you and your lifestyle.
The key to finding a work-life balance while in medical training is to get help early on. Medical students who started their undergraduate training straight from school may find it difficult to manage their time effectively. It’s also helpful to have the support of staff. Drop-in sessions or workshops may be useful. Lastly, parents can also play an important role in helping their children adjust to medical school. They’ll likely be more supportive if you share some tips with them.
Finding a work-life balance as a practicing physician
The biggest obstacles to finding a work-life balance as a physician are workload, workflow, and scheduling. Burnt-out physicians frequently blame their busy schedules on paperwork demands, bringing their work home, and feeling guilty about taking time off. These issues can be addressed, however, by developing realistic expectations and by planning ahead.
While the concept of work-life balance might be silly to some, it is a necessary goal for most physicians. A physician must be able to prioritize patients, lab work, referrals, and on-call calls. Additionally, a doctor may be called into the emergency room to cover another physician’s shift. Physicians who do not prioritize work-life balance are likely to suffer from burnout and depression, as well as make more mistakes than those who have balanced lives.
Work-life balance is especially important for physicians because burnout can lead to serious health problems, increased risk of accidents, and poor quality of care. However, it is important to remember that free-time is not a luxury; it is a necessity to ensure your well-being. If you have to make sacrifices, consider a locum tenens contract to save your career and find a good work-life balance.