Performing surgery is hard work that requires an intense level of focus. The work can stressful and draining, and the hours can be long, leading many surgeons to feel out of balance with work and life. Furthermore, surgeons who allow themselves to live in a state of chronic stress risk hitting a wall, which is also known as “burning out.” Physician burnout is an epidemic plaguing our profession, which often leads to a lower level of patient care. We all need to make serious efforts to maintain work-life balance so we can continue to provide the highest level of care.
Here are some ways you can maintain work-life balance as a surgeon.
- Choose the right place to work
Maintaining work-life balance as a surgeon starts with choosing the right place to work and live. Before you start sending out resumes, decide what’s important to you in a location and a workplace. Once you accept a position and prepare to move, make an effort to live close to work so that you don’t have a long commute every day. The less time you spend commuting, the more time you can spend living your life.
- Maintain boundaries and don’t be afraid to say no
It’s not easy to say “no” when you work in healthcare. After all, you probably got into the profession out of a sincere desire to help people, and you want to help as many people as you possibly can. Do not make the mistake, however, of thinking that you are helping everyone by never saying no. You need to maintain boundaries and keep yourself a priority. Remember, you won’t be able to help anyone if you allow yourself to burn out.
- Take care of yourself
Lastly, remember to take care of yourself— physically and mentally. As a healthcare professional, you know what it means to live a healthy life, yet so many in our profession aren’t practicing what we preach. Eat well, drink lots of water, and get plenty of sleep. Also, make sure to get some type of exercise each day, no matter how full your workload is. You might feel like you don’t have time to take care of yourself, but the truth is, you don’t have time not to. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to make time for the things in life that are most important to you, like spending time with your friends and family.
Although these tips sound simple, they are easy to overlook. It’s honorable to want to work hard and make a difference. Still, it’s crucial that you maintain some amount of work-life balance to avoid burnout and continue providing the highest level of care possible.