Doctor work-life balance is a priority for modern physicians. According to a survey carried out by the American Medical Association, 92 percent of Millennial physicians believe it is critical to balance work with personal time and family events and obligations. Not being able to maintain this balance can lead to burnout and decreased quality of life for physicians, according to a 2018 Physicians Foundation survey.
It’s crucial to keep your priorities balanced to succeed at work and maintain your professional reputation. Because some doctors work on weekends, you may think it is difficult for them to maintain a good work-life balance. However, this article will explore how doctors juggle their work and personal lives to cultivate life satisfaction.
Find Your Bootcamp Match
- Career Karma matches you with top tech bootcamps
- Access exclusive scholarships and prep courses
What Is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is the ability to lead a healthy and fulfilling life both inside and outside work. It’s about having sufficient control over your work schedule to allow free time to spend with family, friends, and other pursuits outside of work. It is the idea that people can strike a reasonable equilibrium between their family life and professional lives.
What Does It Mean to Have Work-Life Balance?
Having a work-life balance means striking a healthy middle ground in our daily lives between work and leisure or family time. Work-life balance is not an achievement with a finish line, but consistent choices to prioritize the right things, according to Harvard Business Review.
Why Is Work-Life Balance Important for Doctors?
Doctors’ work-life balance is essential because it allows them to enjoy all aspects of their life without sacrificing their careers and personal accomplishments. A work-life balance helps doctors diagnose diseases accurately, increases job satisfaction, and makes them happier overall. It allows them to discharge their duties effectively, even while working on weekends.
Doctor’s Job Responsibilities
A doctor’s goal is to heal people’s bodies through surgery, medication, treatment, and diagnosis. Becoming a doctor means that you will be responsible for improving the quality of patients’ lives, giving direction to their families, providing continuity of care at home, and performing medical research. Below are more specific job responsibilities doctors perform.
Give Medical Advice
For a doctor to give the right medical advice, they must be in the right mindset. A doctor’s ability to remain emotionally removed is essential because emotions often prevent people from making rational decisions due to stress and anxiety. Emotional detachment helps a family physician see situations objectively, which leads to better decision-making.
Take a Medical History
A doctor takes patients’ medical histories and performs physical examinations. They will inquire about personal health information including the patient’s symptoms, illnesses, medications, allergies, personal behavior, and family background. The answers to these questions provide vital information that helps doctors understand their patients’ bodies, minds, and habits.
Diagnose Illness and Injury
Doctors diagnose ailments using clinical skills and knowledge of anatomy. When taking a medical history, one must remain emotionally detached when diagnosing illness or injury. If they’re stressed from a poor work-life balance, a physician may misdiagnose an ailment that they could treat differently.
Doctors treat disease by prescribing medicine or authorizing surgical procedures. An emotionally unstable doctor might prescribe too much medicine or operate when there isn’t a need. Such actions could lead to adverse events like side effects, infections, and other complications.
A doctor’s research includes various forms, such as conducting a literature review, performing case studies, medical journal writing, attending scientific meetings, and reading books and articles on health topics. It also includes writing grants, participating in professional organizations, getting published, and learning new methods and techniques.
How Many Hours Do Doctors Work?
Doctors work an average of 51.40 hours a week, with the majority of doctors working between 41 and 60 hours, according to a 2018 poll conducted by the Physician’s Foundation. This depends on their job title and the facility in which they work. For instance, the American Academy of Neurology says that neurologists work an average of 56 hours per week.
Medical training itself is very tedious. Medical students put in long hours studying and yet still put in a lot of hours when they become doctors. When choosing a medical career path, it is important to consider how many hours you are comfortable working each week.
Do Doctors Work on Weekends?
Yes, some doctors work on weekends because there always has to be someone available to attend to patients. People get sick often, and there is always a patient at the hospital. However, some doctors don’t have to work on weekends and only work a nine-to-five schedule on weekdays. Whether a doctor works on weekends depends on their job title and the location where they work.
How to Achieve Work-Life Balance as a Doctor
Achieving a work-life balance for a high-paying career in medicine is often daunting, especially for female physicians. This is because female physicians are more likely to take time off to care for their families, undergo pregnancy and childbirth, and raise children. However, the tips below share how to maintain a personal life and still enjoy a rewarding career in medicine.
- Employ the use of technology: Technology can be deployed to help achieve a good doctor work-life balance. For example, many physicians used telemedicine to consult with patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. By using telemedicine, physicians can work from home and still provide quality care to their patients.
- Establish boundaries: Set boundaries for yourself and don’t let your career completely consume you. By setting boundaries, you’ll be able to free up time for personal pursuits that provide life satisfaction. Prioritize time to pursue hobbies and interests outside of your medical career.
- Be honest with your loved ones: As a physician, you must learn to deal with stress to remain stable when facing difficulties. If you have problems in your personal life, don’t hide them. Instead, talk about your issues with family members and friends.
- Be organized: If you have a medical career, make an effort to create time for vacation days and resist the urge to work odd hours unless necessary. Effective time management is key to a good doctor work-life balance.
- Continue learning new skills: Whether it’s reading books on medical specialties, taking classes, or finding ways to expand your knowledge, you always need to stay sharp in your career. Developing new skills and making your career exciting makes it easier to maintain interest and motivation and avoid burnout.
Healthcare Companies With the Best Work-Life Balance
This article provides more insight into achieving work-life balance as a doctor and reducing burnout in physicians. These healthcare companies may offer flexible schedules and allow you to work from home, which leads to an increase in job satisfaction. All rankings are based on Glassdoor’s internal research on the Highest Rated Companies For Work-Life Balance.
- Headquarters: Columbus, Ohio
- Locations: Beechwood and Columbus, Ohio
CoverMyMeds is a healthcare provider notable for its focus on work-life balance, with a 4.8 out of five for work-life balance. CoverMyMeds offers telecommuting and part-time schedules for licensed physicians who want to work less or still work full-time without compromising their professional responsibilities and goals.
CoverMyMeds also offers group insurance plans and medical, dental, vision coverage, and short-term disability coverage. Additionally, this great healthcare company provides its employees with long-term disability insurance, retirement contributions, paid vacation time, sick days, and more.
St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
- Headquarters: Memphis, Tennessee
- Locations: Multiple locations across the country
St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital ranks among the top healthcare facilities with a work-life balance rating of 4.6 out of five, according to Glassdoor. St. Jude’s enables its employees to work flexibly due to its commitment to employee happiness, health, and well-being.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
- Headquarters: Los Angeles, California
- Locations: Multiple locations across the world
AIDS Healthcare Foundation has numerous programs that give its staff opportunities to grow professionally and personally. For example, it offers travel scholarships to attend courses or workshops. It also offers free membership in various organizations that provide resources for employees’ career advancement. Moreover, employees get access to counseling services.
- Headquarters: New York
- Locations: Multiple locations across the world
Pfizer allows employees to work from home and use their private computers, cars, and cell phones. They also promote work life balance in physicians lives under their employ by paying for employees’ travel expenses for educational courses and conferences. Pfizer also offers tuition reimbursements up to $10,000 per academic year for continuing education coursework.
- Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona
- Locations: Multiple locations across Arizona
ValleyWise provides flexible job scheduling so individuals can choose when they start and finish working each day. This company’s policies include paid time off, wellness and vitality support, paid vacations, tuition reimbursement, and an employee assistance program.
Is Work-Life Balance Possible for Doctors?
Yes, a work-life balance is possible for doctors. Maintaining a work-life balance is essential for doctors, but it can be difficult to achieve among long shifts and weekend work. You can achieve this balance by engaging in extracurricular activities and setting boundaries with your employer.
Doctors must make time for social life and spend quality time with family and friends. Doctors who practice a healthy work-life balance are more likely to enjoy their careers and attain personal accomplishments alongside professional achievements.
Doctor Work-Life Balance FAQ
Yes, doctors can work from home. The growing trend of medical professionals working from home has increased over the last few years. Working from home has numerous benefits, including spending more time with your family, reducing travel time, and reducing levels of burnout.
No one doctor has all of the ideal qualities for work-life balance. However, those with specialties in pediatrics, public health, and preventive medicine work fewer hours than their counterparts in general surgery, urology, and cardiology.
The daily life of practicing physicians is rigorous, from their long work hours to the high-stress level. To cope with the long work hours, most doctors rely on their time management skills and the use of technology.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
Both nurses and doctors work long hours, but they differ in their stress levels at work. While nurses are not directly involved in diagnosing and treating patients, they have a greater impact on critical care. Because nurses spend more time on patient care, generally, they experience more stress due to longer work hours.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.