Work-Life Balance in Healthcare – Part 1

Working in healthcare is not a 9a-5pm job, much to the dismay of Dolly Parton fans everywhere. Although healthcare can be a very fulfilling career path, it often gets a bad rap for long hours and demanding schedules. And the ironic thing is that people who have careers that revolve around helping others are often the worst at maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Many studies show that the burnout rate among healthcare workers is on the rise. But I am here to tell you that a healthy work-life balance in healthcare is possible! Between emergencies, co-workers’ absences, and the growing demand not met by the existing workforce, people who choose to work in healthcare need to set boundaries to make sure that their home life does not suffer.

Amy Hornig, PharmD ’07

Here are a few tips & tricks that I do to help with work-life balance. See if any of these work for you!

At work:

  • Communicate effectively. Be honest with your colleagues and boss when you feel you are in a bind. Chances are….you aren’t alone! As a manager, I never want my employees to feel that they cannot come to me with issues they are facing. But the difference is, don’t just complain….be prepared to suggest practical alternatives. Look at a situation from someone else’s viewpoint, and in a tense situation—either rethink your strategy or stand your ground, calmly and rationally. Make allowances for other opinions, and compromise when necessary.

  • Set manageable goals. Being able to meet goals gives me a sense of accomplishment and control. The more control you have in your daily job, the less stressed you will feel throughout the day. Be realistic about workloads and deadlines. Learn to take care of important tasks first, and eliminate or delegate unessential ones when you can.

  • Avoid time wasters. By being in a service-oriented field, healthcare workers are especially vulnerable to time-wasters in the workplace. Be polite, but develop a quick way to get out of long, irrelevant conversations, both with patients and co-workers. This way, work tasks get done at work, rather than bleeding over into home life. Tip: if you are having an impromptu discussion with a co-worker or boss about a work related problem that lasts more than 5 minutes, suggest setting up a time on your calendars in the future to discuss the issue further. You aren’t dismissing the issue, rather setting up a time that is more conducive to both of your schedules to have a more in depth conversation.

  • Take a break. Sometimes in healthcare, especially in hospitals, a traditional “lunch break” isn’t always possible when workload is high or emergencies happen. But even small 5 minute breaks at work—or on any project—will help clear your head, improve your ability to deal with stress, and help you make better decisions when you jump back in.

Stay tuned next week (4/10/19) for tips from Dr. Hornig about work-life balance at home.

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