Physician heal thyself: Practice medicine on your own terms

Being intentional about everything in your life is one of the major pillars to having a balanced life. It all begins with organizing your priorities; and once you have set your priorities, you can develop a schedule that reflects them. In my case, my top priority is having a career that will allow me to live life on my own terms. Personally, living life on my own terms means having flexibility to balance my career while being present for my children and the rest of my family. To achieve this, I switched from being a nephrologist to being a hospitalist, working as a locum tenens physician. This saves me from working at night and being on-call. Working shifts means work ends when I leave my workspace; and this allows me to leave work at work. This has given me immense flexibility in my life.

When it comes to my schedule, I plan a month ahead of time. Any activities concerning my kids [or family in general] are placed on the calendar first. After that, I review what working days my locum tenens hospitals have available, and I offer to work on the days that do not conflict with family time.

You’re probably thinking, “of course you can have such a schedule … you’re working as a locum tenens physician!” I beg to differ. In your current work situation, you can look at ways of building flexibility into your schedule. One way you can do this is by working with colleagues to have inside arrangements that are favorable for both your needs and theirs. You can also renegotiate your contract to have some half days, or you can use your vacation time to be more available for your children/family, especially during milestones and events that they would want you to be present for. If possible, switch to your dream job that has all the qualities you want; I know of people who have done that and they are living on cloud nine. Why not you? You deserve it.

Discouraging thoughts like, “I am stuck,” “physicians don’t get to work in their dream job … that doesn’t exist,” “wanting flexibility in medicine is mission impossible,” “wanting a balanced life as a doctor is insane,” will inevitably pop into your mind. But guess what? You get to build your life on your terms! It is very doable. I, along with several other individuals I know, are living proof of this.

What are your top three priorities? Going forward, can you implement just the top priority in your life as much as possible? What will that look like? How will that make you feel? Start thinking about these things and how you would manifest them. As always, self-experimentation is the key to opening up new possibilities in your life. Give it a shot and see what happens.

Nana Korsah is a nephrologist and can be reached at MD Work & Life Balance.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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