For most everyone, male or female, there is a constant, daily pursuit of work-life balance. The spouse is feeling neglected. The kids have special events coming up. Work is getting more demanding, but yoga class would really help right now.
And physicians on the job search may feel like they're chasing an elusive dream. How does anyone find a job that provides the right equilibrium?
"If work-life balance is a major priority, then make sure you look at jobs and environments that meet that need," advises Rebecca Dallek, M.Ed., ACC, CPCC. "The Internet can provide some incredible clues as to the policies and philosophies of a workplace."
Dallek, a career coach, usually recommends that her clients land an interview, get a job offer, and THEN ask lots of hard questions. "Follow your gut," she says. "If it tells you that the organization or practice is not family friendly, then you are probably right."
Dr. Koushik Shaw, author of Finding the Right Job After Residency, tells job seekers to take a good look at their lifestyle and priorities.
"Do a personal inventory of your career and home demands," he advises. "Be honest, and see how the group can work with those requirements. If not, move on."
But he warns that if physicians take on a job that requires more than they are willing or able to give, it will not end well for either party.
Work-life balance demands internal work
So is there a magical way to achieve the right work-life balance -- finding time for play amid a busy career, and avoiding physician burnout? Dallek points out that it requires internal work as well as external.
"There are many research-based techniques to reduce stress and anxiety, including self-care," she says. "I think that women who give back to themselves without guilt seem to have the most success at finding balance."
Dallek offers a formula for her clients:
"There are always choices in every situation. If you don't make yourself aware of the choices, you will stay stuck. If you don't make choices, you can't make much-needed positive changes. If you you don't take action to enact the choice, no movement forward will occur."
She notes that everyone's definition of happiness tends to evolve over time. So she encourages her clients to check in with themselves periodically.
"Put a monthly reminder on your calendar. Ask yourself during that check-in what is working and what is not. Once you identify what is not working in your life, go through the formula. It isn't always easy to make change, but it is always worthwhile."
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