How Married and Single Physicians Can Find Better Work-Life Balance

November 22, 2013

Whether married or single, physicians have a tough time finding balance. Life coach Cornelia Shipley offers tips on tackling this challenge.

Whether married or single, physicians often have a difficult time finding balance between work and life. And while the elusive goal of perfect work-life balance often seems unattainable to professionals in other industries, physicians have especially hard time juggling work and non-work activities.  

The biggest challenges, perhaps, are finding enough off-the-clock time for your personal life and maintaining boundaries, said Cornelia Shipley, founder of 3C Consulting and creator of the Design Your Life Summit, who works with physicians and other professionals to address these challenges.

Physician and married mother-of-four Jennifer Frank often blogs about these challenges, and recently discussed the importance of leaving work at work, which is often hard to do.

"I consider my good habit of finishing my office visit notes at work and not bringing that work home," Frank wrote. "However, I emotionally and intellectually bring a lot of work home. This weekend was a great example. I was on call so I was finishing up the loose ends from my partners' patients, dealing with my own weekend patients, and trying to be available on my pager and available to my family. Certainly, when I’m on call, I am really required to be available but it can be difficult to transition to being off call just because the clock switched from 7 a.m. to 7:01 a.m."

Shipley said that physicians in these situations need to establish the critical items they want to say "yes" to in their life and work so they can strategically design a future with balance and boundaries. A good way to do this is to make sure to block off time for special family events, vacation, and downtime at the beginning of the year, and arrange for on-call and other coverage well in advance.

"They find they get the best doctors to cover for them and are able to leave medicine behind when they are spending quality time with family and friends," Shipley told Physicians Practice.

One suggestion: Plan "special connection" moments, such as mystery drives with the kids or surprise/spontaneous meetings with your spouse. Your spouse and family will appreciate the effort.

While single physicians don't have the added stress of family demands, they have their own one-of-a-kind challenges, namely how to reign in career ambition to create space for a personal life and "enhancing soft skills" that will allow for them to make said meaningful connections, said Shipley.

For physicians who are single and looking for love, doctors and dating experts offer tips in Physicians Practice's "Dating Guide for the Always On Call."