The balance between work and family especially for doctors is very important. Let’s face the fact, being a doctor is very tasking and requires the doctor to be accessible 24/7. With this kind of responsibility, it is simply going to be easy to overlook a lot of things and family being one of them. Aside from overlooking family and other aspects of life, he or she is likely to burn out from all the work and that could lead to a series of issues both at work and at home. For this article, we will concentrate on the work-family balance but before that, we will talk about work-life balance.
What is Work-Life Balance?
According to Wikipedia, work-life balance means the equilibrium between personal life and career work. Work-life balance also means the state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritises the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life. This means that both work and life are equally important and each should be treated that way. Due to the equal importance of each, it, therefore, calls for balance. Balance is what makes the difference in the lives of different doctors as some may be seen to be able to handle their life and work better than some. Doctors who are not able to develop a good balance between the two are said to have poor work-life balance.
There are certain reasons why a doctor could have a poor work-life balance and some of them are:
- Increased responsibilities at work: this could come in the cases of doctors who are employed in hospitals and organizations with limited staff. This in turn creates a lot of work for the doctor to handle and hence, having little time for family.
- Working longer hours: as stated earlier, less staff leads to longer working hours.
- Increased responsibilities at home.
- Having children: this is one of the factors that lead to increased responsibilities at home. With the presence of children, there emerges a great need for the active involvement of both parents.
To maintain balance, it is important to make a conscious effort on each side of the scale to create boundaries and that helps to keep each area out of the other and hence, balance.
What is Work-Family Balance?
Taking a cue from the definition given by Wikipedia, we can say that work-family balance refers to the equilibrium between family life and its responsibilities and the work-life and its responsibilities. Being a doctor doesn’t stop or limit a person from making a family but it sure has an impact on the life of the individual and likewise on the family.
The career path of a doctor requires his or her attention 24/7 and if not properly managed, can take over the life of the doctor. Some of the duties the doctor has to carry out daily includes:
- Attending to patients
- Analyzing scans and lab results
- Giving diagnoses and prescription
- Responding to emergencies
All these duties and more all involve human lives and in emergencies, there could be life-threatening cases he or she has to handle.
Importance of Balance
Balance is highly important for the sake of the doctor, his/her family and patients. Due to the workload and the nature of some cases, the doctor could be affected both mentally and emotionally. This state of being affected both mentally and emotionally and sometimes leading to physical harm is known as burnout. Doctors who are burn out tend to make mistakes both at work and at home. They could give wrong prescriptions and diagnoses to patients. They could also snap at their spouse’s or the children at home. This creates problems both at work and at home. Hence, a balance must be created between work and family.
Can a Doctor have a Work-Family Balance?
Looking at the two sides of the scale(work and family), each is very important. Work plays a role in filling a void in us and makes us feel productive. The family also plays a role in making us be fulfilled. So they have to come together for a fulfilling life. One may ask, can a doctor have a work-family balance? To that question, I will answer yes. A doctor can have a Work-Family Balance but it is going to take a lot of work and the work has to be intentional. The doctor has to be intentional about creating a balance between his/her work and family.
How Can a Doctor Create a Balance between work and family?
Some of the ways that a doctor can create a balance between work and family are:
- Work-family integration: this entails bringing home some of the work that he/she can handle at home. This could be done on an occasional basis in order not to defeat the purpose of the balance.
- Actively set out time may be weekly or monthly for just spending time with family.
- While it may not be easy to separate yourself emotionally from the work, it is important to know where and when to draw the line both physically, mentally and emotionally between work and family. This helps to avoid the transfer of feelings from one side to another which could impact efficiency on either end.
- Know your limits: it doesn’t help to want to do everything. You have to know what your limits are and try not to overstep those limits.
Balance is important in anything that we do, be it work, leisure or family. There is a need for balance to exist. It is the factor that ensures that we do not out-do ourselves. Everyone must create a balance and that includes doctors. So be sure doctors, to incorporate a balance in your practice and life (family) because your life matter even as you try to save the lives of others.