Physicians and Their Hobbies

December 2, 2014

I believe in achieving work-life balance. However, my hobbies seem to include learning new shortcuts on the EHR and reading my Kindle while brushing my teeth.

I am undergoing a job transition in the next month in which I will be giving up much of my patient care in order to pursue administrative responsibilities. As part of the announcement for my changing roles, my new boss wrote up a nice bio about me and asked for a few personal facts to add - including information about my family and my hobbies. I was caught on the hobbies thing.

As a physician/wife/mother, I have many interests. I'd like to learn how to do calligraphy and also learn Spanish. I'd like to travel to Antarctica by boat and visit Machu Picchu. I have dreams of learning to draw, paint, refinish furniture, and water ski. It would also be great to rollerblade even once during the summer, go on long bike rides with my family, and take up cross-country skiing. Sadly, many of these remain in the realm of the possible but are not probable.

Instead, my hobbies seem to include learning new shortcuts on the EHR, reading my Kindle while brushing my teeth, figuring out how to remove a coffee stain from white carpet or stains from clothes that went through the washer and dryer with a forgotten crayon. None of these are on my bucket list, yet they are the activities that make up the fabric of my days and weeks.

When I was in college, I was in a special program that offered early acceptance to medical school in an effort to encourage students to try new things the last two years of college - an art class or a philosophy course - with the goal of developing more well-rounded physicians. I did take some college classes that I wouldn't otherwise have taken and spent time in my senior year studying abroad, while my classmates were interviewing for medical school. For me, the experience did broaden my horizons, for which I am grateful. However, my well-roundedness seemed to evaporate after that. My schedule for the next decade was unpredictable. I remember being in residency and completely excited that during one rotation in my third year, I had three consecutive Tuesday evenings off and could sign up for a short pottery class. Unfortunately, I soon had to go back to my typical full schedule and never made it back to pick up my completed projects.

As one of my colleagues used to quip, medicine is a demanding mistress. It rarely lends you the time and energy needed to pursue hobbies and outside interests. If you are also married and have kids, the time seems to evaporate even more quickly. Yet, we can all see the benefit of a well-rounded physician, as my college did years ago.

So, readers, I am curious: What hobbies and interests do you pursue? And how do you manage to carve out the time and energy needed to pursue these activities?

* Editor's Note: Please let us know what you do in your free time; tell us in the comments section below.