1. As a prominent doctor in the Connecticut area and a professor at Yale University, what are the main causes of burnout that you see in your patients/students?
I think the main cause of burn out in the patients that I see is chasing an idea of what their life should look like and trying to achieve perfection for themselves and their children. In this social media culture, everyone is running so fast and is so crazed to have the perfect house, the perfect vacation the perfect family photo. It’s as though they’re trying so hard they forget to actually live their own lives. They race from work to activity to activity never slowing down enough to enjoy the things in life that really matter. Time with their family and friends. People are simply overscheduled.
2. From your experience, what are your suggestions to attain a balanced lifestyle? Is there any advice you can share with us from your own experience?
It’s important to understand that time is your most valuable resource. It’s the only thing you can never make more of and never get back. So when planning your life, try to be very protective of your time and your families time. I see lots of young couples striving to create the “perfect life” for themselves and their children. To achieve this both parents will work, they take long commutes for jobs with better pay, and move farther from their place of work in order to afford bigger homes. And while we can’t always control all these things there’s certainly choices we can make. Live closer to work, keep your commute as short as possible, if that means living in a smaller home so be it. In the end it’s not a bigger home or fancier neighborhood that will make you happy. It’s the time that you can spend with your family and friends outside of work. The time that you could devote to your hobbies and other pursuits.
Finances are also very important. They are the most common and the biggest stressor in people’s lives. We know from some very well done research that money truly can’t buy happiness. Once we’ve achieved basic security in food, shelter, and healthcare, more money provides very little additional joy. When we are trying to make our lives better, the answer frequently people look to is to make more money. This is simply is not easy as it sounds, as we all find out. A much easier answer is to simply make smart choices, sacrifice a little bit, and start saving from an early age. This means living in a smaller home or apartment, driving a car that’s not quite as nice, not buying those new clothes you really want. Saving money really has a twofold advantage. Not only do you have less stress because your monthly expenses are lower, you end up saving more and that builds financial security which helps us all sleep better at night. We all have to make choices and the choice simply to spend less and save more is one of the most powerful ones we can make. I know it’s really hard in this age of Facebook and Instagram. Everyone seems to be living the picture-perfect life. But remember all those fabulous posts won’t actually make you any happier. What will is a sense of security and safety for you and your family and the luxury to spend more time with them.
3. Any advice or tips for students that easily get burnout with their rigorous schedule?
Understandably, after working so hard for so many years and sacrificing so much through medical school and residency many physicians get out into practice and feel that they deserve that new BMW the fancy vacation or the bigger home. Just remember, the world owes you nothing. There’s really no such thing. When you first get out of residency continue to live like a resident. Keep your lifestyle simple, and save money to build a financial moat for the future. Also, as I mentioned above, remember you simply can’t make more hours in the day. Try to live as close as possible to work, don’t over-schedule yourself or your children. We all need a little bit of downtime, especially our kids. When the urge hits to try and keep up with all of those fantastic lifestyles you see on social media, just remember, a lot of those people are incredibly stressed trying to keep up that image
Dr. David Passaretti is a renowned reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon who developed the Aesthetic Surgery Center, Plastic Surgery and Medical Spa in Connecticut. He currently has teaching privileges at both Columbia and Yale Universities and has seen thousands of patients and students combined. In addition to teaching, he regularly contributes to academic papers in well-known medical journals, including Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – which is the official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.