How Do Doctors Balance Work and Family?

Work-Family Balance
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According The National Library of Medicine, only about 36% of surgeons feel their work schedule left enough time for personal and family life… The balance between work and family especially for doctors is very important. Let’s face the fact, that 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 prioritizes 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.

Recommended: Workplace Work-Life Balance Problems And Solutions for 2024 (Revised)

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 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
  • Charting

 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 Having a Work-Family Balance As a Doctor

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 creates problems both at work and at home. Hence, a balance must be created between work and family.

1. Improved Mental Health

Having a balance between work and life as a doctor will help improve your mental health. For instance, you have been in the clinic for the longest of days, didn’t call your wife/family, or close friends for days, and when you finally do what do you think will be their reaction? A typical answer will be ‘go to where you are coming from or where matters to you’.

In that state, you can’t concentrate, and might most likely be depressed. But then if you have an adequate balance between these, your mental health will become more stable and you wouldn’t have to leave one for the other.

2. Increased Productivity

With a clear mind and a balanced work-family life, you will be more focused and this will directly affect your productivity. A friend of mine shared some time ago that she has been trying to balance her work and family life but it is on a 70:30 ratio. This affected her level of concentration at work and most times she was found absent minded, forgetful or clearly clueless of what to do. You see, this is one of the benefits of having a work-family balance because you will become focused and your productivity/input will increase.

3. Reduced Burnouts/Fatigue

Constant stress, fatigue, burnouts and so on. All these will come as a result of too much work and too little time to exercise, or take a proper meal and the likes. It is important to have a healthy lifestyle outside work to help you keep fit, not only will your body appreciate you, every other thing too because they all hinge on your health.

This state of being affected both mentally and emotionally and sometimes leading to physical harm is known as burnout. They could also snap at their spouses or the children at home. Doctors who are burned out tend to make mistakes both at work and at home.

4. Satisfaction

Satisfaction naturally comes in being able to finish your projects/tasks. It is important to have a balance between work and family to experience that joy of satisfaction and sense of purpose.

5. Patient Care

You will have enough time to attend to your patients if you apportion the appropriate time to everything that concerns you. Doctors who do not have work-family balance could even give wrong prescriptions and diagnoses to patients. So, ensure you have time to rest, time to work, etc so that when it comes to treating your patients you won’t be found doing something else but rather your full concentration will be on your patient.

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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?

These are some of the ways for you to create work-family balance as a doctor.

How Can a Doctor Create a Balance Between Work and Family
How Can a Doctor Create a Balance Between Work and Family

1. Work-Family Integration

What this entails is bringing home some of the work that you can handle at home. This could be done on an occasional basis in order not to defeat the purpose of the balance.

2. Time Management

As a doctor who want to balance work and family life, you should learn how to manage your time effectively. Multitask, actively set out time maybe weekly or monthly for just spending time with family to make both sides happy.

3. Set Priority

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.

4. Know Your Limits

Find where your strenth lies, It doesn’t help to want to do everything. You have to know what your limits are and try not to overstep those limits.

5. Choose The Right Specialty

Often times, some doctors often experience complications with their work-life balance because of their specialty. For instance, a survey found that doctors with best work life balance in these specialities reported higher levels of work-life balance satisfaction compared to those in more demanding specialties.

6. Communicate With Your Employer

If you are having any difficulty with work, make sure you inform your employer about it so that you both can device a means to assuage the situation.

Recommended: How to Become a Medical Doctor in Finland

Work-Life And Mental Health Balance
Work-Life And Mental Health Balance

Conclusion

In conclusion, 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 doctors incorporate a balance in your practice and life (family) because your life matter even as you try to save the lives of others.

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Igbojianya Oluchukwu

Content is the life of anything that works in life. It can be written, visual, audio, or a combination of all forms. It is my duty and pleasure to give you valuable content. I am Igbojianya Oluchukwu, a Content Creator and Writer.
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