A medical career is undoubtedly a rewarding one but it’s also one that can eat into your time. As much as our GPs are required for a series of different ailments, no one can work to the best of their ability if they’re never able to take a break. As such, taking some much-needed respite is as important for a doctor, as well as for the patients themselves.
Putting Yourself First
Although this can seem like a selfish motive, it’s important that you don’t burn out when treating your patients, or you may not be delivering the best service you can, but how does a GP go about putting themselves first? In some instances, it can simple case of saying no. This doesn’t mean we should refuse to see patients, but being bombarded with appointments is not something that is going to benefit either the GP or the patients.
As such, a GP should make enquires as to whether other GPs are able to share the workload, and take advantage of the time they have spare. A weekend away can do wonders to refresh the body and mind. Some doctors may travel in order to ensure they remain fully relaxed, whereas others may partake in sports, such as football and swimming as doctor Mark Allen says.
‘It is a challenge but I try and spend time away from work by travelling. I also spend time on my hobbies i.e. photography, gym and playing football.’
Plan Your Free Time as You Would Your Work Diary
One of the main reasons for having an unhealthy work-life balance is not making plans for time off. This means that we often obligate ourselves to do more hours, as we simply do not have anything else planned. Making arrangements in advance will ensure that you are able to diarise upcoming events, and therefore schedule your time more effectively.
Meeting the Challenges of Work-Life Balance
When it comes to managing your work-life balance, you may find that there a number of obstacles that stop you attain a healthy balance. A practice that cares for its doctors should have a procedure in place where time off is given where required, ensuring there are no instances of burn out among the GPs. Denis Jenkins Salaried GP views highlight this issue:
'Every practice is different - and there are fewer practices, which treat their doctors like human beings and more that want robot like physicians who can cope with the workload, rather than provide a quality service.’
In this regard, it can be advisable to check whether your hours are both realistic and beneficial to patients. If you think they’re not, then you’re fighting a losing battle, causing a lot of un-needed stress. Others may have to look at their current work commitments and establish as to whether any changes are required. Some full time GPs have stated that working full time can mean working 12 hour days, so if this too much, then it may be important to cut back.
Dr Mohammed Khan actually mentions this when responding to a question in relation to managing his time:
‘If I worked full time I would end up writing off 5 out 7 days off. At present I cannot see a way of managing these challenges other than for NHS England to look at the bureaucracy in General practice. Personally, that is why I have chosen to work 2 full days so I can have some quality of life.’
Of course, this means a lower income, but if it’s something that’s financially viable, then it’s something well worth considering.
It’s also worth noting that achieving a work-life balance cannot be conquered with one swoop, it is something that needs to be continually revisited in order for the GP to feel the benefits.
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