Off and on we talk about the challenge of what is referred to as ‘work-life balance.’  By ‘life,’ we mean home, family, friends, volunteer efforts, and self-care to name just a few of the commitments that fill our lives.  This busy holiday season feels like an appropriate time to return to this topic.

Lumunos facilitator and physician Dr. Larry Wood speaks to the ambivalence many doctors feel about this tension:

Close to the heart of work-life balance is ambivalence. We are trapped between the joys and obligations of our professional lives and our personal lives.

In our lives caring for patients, they reward us with the whole spectrum from indifference and hostility to profound gratitude. We deal with drudgery of insurance companies, paper work and EMR’s. And then there’s call. We are awakened and dragged out in the middle of the night to see those who failed to follow our sound advice given in the light of day. But we are also called out to see those who desperately need our knowledge and skills. We have the privilege of working with teams of dedicated physicians and nurses who understand our world. We experience the immense satisfaction of making a complex and difficult diagnosis; repairing and restoring a broken body; bringing a new life into the world; knowing our treatment saved a life; and being present to comfort patients and families at the most difficult times of their lives when we have nothing else to offer.

Likewise at home we experience the joy of being greeted by adoring children and pets. We rest and relax doing those treasured diversions and hobbies that put smiles on our faces. We celebrate life’s important occasions with friends and family. But we are also greeted by looks of disdain and drama practiced to perfection by adolescent children. Our families unfortunately believe we are mere mortals and not the miracle workers some of our patients and colleagues believe us to be. Free time also means fixing the plugged drain, paying bills and spending the holidays with weird relatives who you wish would stop arguing about politics and find their way to the door.

How we handle this push and pull in our lives will determine in large part how content we are.

Questions for Conversation and Reflection:  What is one small thing you could do to this week to improve the balance between your work and ‘other’ life?

Please share it with colleagues and friends if you feel is useful…
This was shared with Dr. Horacio Diaz by David Specht

Lumunos Physician Well-Being Facilitator