When your entire job centers on caring for others, it’s easy to let your own health and wellness fall by the wayside—especially when it comes to maintaining a work-life balance. Overseeing a practice means managing a staff and business finances, providing services to your patients and keeping them fully satisfied. Given everything on your shoulders, it’s easy to fall into the habit of working long hours with little or no break. However, burnout can (and will) eventually rear its ugly head.
There’s a common misconception in the medical field that to be successful, you must make extreme personal sacrifices. While getting to where you are certainly required a great deal of discipline and dedication, it doesn’t mean you have to give up the idea of a balanced life.
Here are a few tips to help you achieve harmony in work and life while still meeting goals for your practice.
Learn How and When to Say “No”
To become a physician, you have to be the sort of person always seeking to go several extra miles. From pre-med to med school, residency to starting your own practice, you’ve always been consumed by ambition and a drive to make a difference. You’re not exactly schooled in the art of saying “no.”
But you know better than anyone: The human mind and body can only take so much before it gives. If you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, it’s not the best time to take on additional projects, such as research and studies. And you may want to temporarily stop accepting new patients until you feel better prepared.
By learning how to say “no,” you can enjoy a more sustainable career free of dissatisfaction and unnecessary stress, but still achieve success.
Outsource and Delegate
Is there someone in your office to whom you feel comfortable delegating various leadership tasks? A second-in-command you trust to make the right choices? If not, it’s time to take a long, hard look at the structure of your practice. A good leader provides his or her team members the tools and internal processes they need to succeed, even without your constant direction and supervision.
There are certain things your team members likely aren’t qualified to do, such as writing prescriptions and making diagnoses. But there are many tasks you can easily delegate to administrative or nursing staff. For example:
- Choosing medical devices and ordering supplies
- Preparing patient medical records, reports and correspondences
- Handling appointment follow-up calls
If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, it may be time to grow your nursing staff, or add another physician or physician assistant to your practice.
Be Present Where You Are
We live in an era in which the line between work and home life is so blurred, it’s practically invisible. As a physician, you’re no stranger to long hours and being so exhausted you can hardly carry on a conversation across the dinner table. And the emotional aspect of your job can make it difficult to leave work at work. But you must. It’s essential that you train your mind to avoid bringing struggles from home into work.
Mindfulness and meditation can help you master being present. Instead of letting your mind wander to your home life while a patient is speaking, or checking your email incessantly during a date night with your spouse, focus on being in the moment. It’s a skill that takes time to perfect, but the benefits can make finding balance much more natural—and your patient satisfaction rate will benefit.
Being a physician is a lot like being a superhero—but you’re still only human. By applying the above practices to your everyday life, you can take better care of yourself and, in turn, offer even better care to your patients.
Looking for more ways to reduce your stress level in 2016? Check out our new eBook, Stop the Budget Bleed: How Private-Practice Physicians Can Reduce Spend.