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How to Improve Work-Life Balance for Physicians

By | Ronald Oman

Physician jobs are highly demanding, and many practitioners are facing difficulties in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Last year, 42% of physicians experienced burnout. At the top of the specialties with the highest burnout rate were urology (54%), neurology (50%), and nephrology (49%).

It is clear that this is an issue in dire need of solutions. Improvement of the work-life balance and stress reduction is a shared responsibility between employer and employee. The administration of healthcare facilities could help by implementing a more flexible schedule and secure relaxation spaces for employees. While physicians need to cultivate setting boundaries and allow themselves to relax and rest after working hours.

Tips For Employers

Employers can help create a work environment that is supportive of their employees’ needs. For this, it is essential to nurture communication with the administrative department so that the staff will voice their concerns.

Openness to Flexible Work Schedules

Depending on the workplace and specialty, flexible working hours are an option for some physicians. Rehabilitation, dermatology, and radiation oncology are leading in this work-life balance factor, while neurology and anesthesiology are at the bottom of the list.

Many practitioners are seeking part-time employment opportunities, either to spend more time with their families or because they have other professional projects to attend. What is more, specialists close to retirement might also welcome the option to slow down their workflow.

However, reducing working hours or taking a more flexible approach brings a set of concerns for employers. One of the main problems is covering for the high number of patients. The cost of overhead for a physician who only works part-time at a facility is another frequent concern.


Knowing what kind of compensation to look for from an employer can help candidates in finding physicians jobs easier. One benefit, in particular, can be helpful for physicians with children. Some hospitals and other healthcare facilities also offer daycare services for their employees’ children.

This helps relieve the stress of finding a nanny to be with the kids while parents are at work. What is more, it allows physicians to spend more time with their children whenever their busy schedule allows it.

Reduce Stress

Physicians have a highly stressful profession. This is mainly on account of high responsibility, ongoing understaffing issues, and patient overflow. While some aspects come with the nature of the job, employers can still mend other issues.

Having a safe space where physicians can retreat to relax for a few minutes can be a great way to help relieve some stress. For example, the administration can allocate a room for this scope that would be arranged accordingly. Blue lighting is known to reduce stress levels. This simple solution is also easy to implement.

Tips For Employees

There are different strategies available for physicians to maintain a positive work-life balance. These can also help decrease the stress associated with their profession.

Set Boundaries

People working as physicians chose this profession as a means to help people. Their knowledge and expertise are dedicated to the good of others. This humanistic approach can drive many experts to over-work themselves. Exhaustion, however, is detrimental to professional proficiency.

Another sensitive topic is emotional involvement. Empathy is crucial for a positive patient-doctor relationship as it helps the patient feel understood and is more likely to follow through with the treatment.

Therefore, a physician is required to be skilled in interpersonal relationships and create a connection with patients. At the same time, being emotionally invested with the high number of patients in their care can be draining. Also, it can affect the free personal time outside working hours.

Physicians need to learn how to set boundaries between workplace and personal life. One strategy is to mentally compartmentalize issues and not to access these outside their appropriate setting.

Allow Time for Yourself

Closely linked to the previous point, it is important to take full advantage of free time. This will allow for proper rest and recovery after a demanding day. Researchers show that wake periods should not be over 17 hours and that they need at least 10 hours of sleep to recover fully. Fatigue has a negative effect on performance, and it is both the employers’ and employees’ responsibility to try and avoid it.

Take Breaks

A physician job is highly demanding. Specialists must dedicate their full attention to all the tasks they are handling. There are days when patients come in back to back, leaving little time to recollect in-between appointments. However, each case comes with a set of administrative tasks, follow-ups, and some degree of emotional implication. If possible, allow at least a couple of minutes between patients.

This is a very high stake job, where any slip can lead to implications that can affect the well-being of a patient. What is more, something unpredictable could appear anytime. To increase efficiency and alertness, it is important to take small breaks, whenever possible.

Ensure Your Own Well-Being

A healthy work-life balance is essential for physicians to be more efficient at their jobs, but also to maintain their own well-being. Practitioners often tend to put others before themselves and risk neglecting their personal needs. However, taking time for oneself is nothing to condemn, instead, it should be encouraged, as it has a beneficial effect on proficiency and productivity.



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