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    How to find a satisfying work–life balance

    I remember when I was first starting out in private practice, in 1979.  I was in the hospital doctor’s lounge one morning when an elderly pediatrician pulled me aside to talk to me. What he had to say to me had nothing to do with a patient, but rather some advice for the future. To summarize, he told me to take a good long look at my young daughter, because I would have very few opportunities as she grew up to be with her and observe her. The practice of medicine would prevent my spending any time with her.

     

    MORE ADVICE: My best idea to avoid physician burnout

     

    I was grateful for his poignant advice, realizing what physicians of his generation had gone through to create a successful practice. However, I was determined that his advice would be wrong. I had no plans whatsoever to desert my family and myself to that jealous mistress, medicine. My friendly pediatrician’s advice only steeled me in that resolve. I planned on making sure that I had enough free time to enjoy and nurture my family as well as having time for myself.

    Having enough time for a personal life, and avoiding professional burnout, has been an issue for physicians for a long time. It is not a new problem, albeit some of the reasons for this have changed over time.

    One would probably have to ask my family how successful I was in creating a proper work-life balance. However, I feel I was reasonably successful, and still enjoy medicine after all these years. Here are a couple of the solutions to overwork and burnout I have come up with over the years.

    One of the things that can lead to overwork is the continual need for us as physicians. There never seems to be enough physicians to go around to take care of our patients’ needs. Throughout my career, I cannot recall ever feeling competition from my colleagues. Medicine is fairly unique in this way. 

     

    RELATED: 10 strategies to enrich physicians' lives

     

    This situation certainly prevents us from ever going hungry, but it can lead to overwork. If we’re not careful, we can continually expand our hours to take care of more and more patients. We can justify this by the fact that the more we work, the more money we are going to earn. Just as in other fields, we often measure our worth my how much income we bring in.

    Next: "Success was being able to do a good quality job in what I did"

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