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    10 strategies to enrich physicians’ lives

    Physician Writing Contest: Honorable Mention

     

    2. Do you value spending time with patients but rarely have enough time with them? Simple timesaving strategies can help you reclaim more than an hour each day. Consider these opportunities for greater efficiency:

    ❚ Enlist your IT team to optimize charting based on your needs and strengths (e.g., using system templates vs. creating your own, learning shortcuts).

     

    Blog: Corporate medicine uses doctors as pawns

     

    ❚ Find or create handouts or videos for frequent procedures and patient education.

    ❚ Incorporate short team huddles to plan each day proactively, anticipating needs and allotting more time for challenging visits.

    ❚ Delegate appropriate non-clinical tasks to your team.

    ❚ If you’ve tried everything and still loathe your EHR, hiring a scribe could change your life.

    Lead your team. Most physicians are driven go-getters, which is a gift and a liability. My military “flight” (my team) became more effective when I learned to trust and empower them. When you lead with humility and mutual accountability, delegating appropriately, the work is lighter and a spirit of community flourishes. Pursue opportunities for leadership training for all leaders in the practice (including you!), and recognize your staff for a job well done. Growing together is inspiring, motivating and fun.

    Invest in relationships. Do the special people in your life know how much you appreciate them? If you’re not sure, decide today to prioritize relationships. Plan a recurring date lunch or night with your spouse or significant other. Set aside more quality time with your children. Call your parents and seek their counsel as needed. Schedule that trip with your college friends you’ve postponed for years. Whatever will nurture those special relationships, schedule it and do it.

    Prioritize your needs. Treat yourself like you treat your best friends (as long as you’re kind to them!). Take breaks throughout your workday, close your eyes and rest your mind. Pause to prepare before seeing your next patient. Eat an apple instead of chips; drink water rather than soda. Minimize haste and add some margin into your days. And for goodness sake, use the restroom when you need to go.

     

    Further reading: Is work-life balance a reality for physicians?

     

    Pursue financial freedom. Debt is an obstacle that keeps physicians stuck, unable to pursue their dreams. A journey to greater life-work balance often means realigning your values, goals and finances. Meeting with a financial adviser or enrolling in a course can jumpstart your future. Such planning enabled me to steer my career beyond relying on my clinical skills toward using all my gifts (writing, speaking, consulting, coaching, leading retreats). This expanded my financial horizon, and I feel much more fulfilled.

    Maya Angelou said, “Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” Be intentional as you spend and save, and make your finances work for you.

    Spend time with people who bring out the best in you. In medicine, this also means avoiding negativity, constant venting and demeaning conversations. Nursing stations and medical halls can house pessimism and heaviness. Don’t park there! Instead, find colleagues who help you grow as a leader and as a more whole human being. And seek opportunities to mentor others, which will add purpose and meaning.

    Kahlil Gibran said, “Work is love made visible.” In our profession, work is, in fact, sacred. As we cannot give what we do not have, ensuring our needs are met in healthcare is not selfish. It is necessary. 

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