Physician, Heal Thyself: How to Thrive In Your Medical Career

One of the things that can help a physician live a balanced life is finding ways to thrive in the workplace. This is currently a work in progress for me, but I am excited to share what I have learned so far. For some context, I was previously practicing as a nephrologist; and I transitioned to being a hospitalist on an as-needed basis to create flexibility in my schedule. This has allowed me to spend more time with my young children.

Each specialty and practice comes with its set of challenges. Being a nephrologist entailed long hours and traveling to many different locations in a single day. By switching to a hospitalist and working prn, I was able to gain flexibility in my life. However, being a hospitalist also comes with the difficulty of ever-changing protocols, core measures, and guidelines. Sepsis screening, sepsis criteria– gotta love it! How about dealing with documentation, and the constant upgrades to the EHR?

Both specialities (like most in the medical field) come with ups and downs when dealing with patients. However, there are daily strategies I use to thrive at the workplace. Let’s discuss how you can manage your day-to-day activities with more consistency and intent.

A helpful habit to develop is to plan the next day’s routine the night before going to work. It is always better to have a routine for your day and to stick with it. As a hospitalist, this is something that has helped me tremendously in the workplace. Having a set schedule gives me permission to take short preplanned breaks to keep me going so I can avoid decision-making fatigue.

Now let’s tackle challenges that may arise in the workplace. When faced with an issue, I ask myself three questions to help move me forward:

  1. Can I resolve the situation? If so, do it.
  2. Who can help solve or change this current situation? Reach out to them.
  3. What if this situation is beyond my control? Learn to accept it without overreacting.

Addressing problems in this practical manner is effective as it prevents depletion of energy and emotional exhaustion. Of course, there may be some scenarios that are absolutely unacceptable (which is unique to the individual, along with his/her specified workplace). If this is the case, seeking a change in workplaces is certainly an option. However, keep in mind that every job has its challenges; therefore, finding a way to address, solve, and/or deal with professional problems is the most effective way to thrive.

Lastly, what helps me to thrive in my profession is reflecting on my day through journaling. I think about what I am thankful for, celebrate the things that have worked out successfully, and review the things that did not work so I can learn from them and improve as a clinician.

These steps may seem simple, but they have really helped me to enjoy my work. I encourage you to experiment with them in your own life. What have you got to lose?

Have questions? Feel free to contact me.

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