Healthcare is rewarding and challenging, which is why many of us entered the field to begin with. But with the demands of the job and the demands of our home life, it can often seem like there is very little left over for the busy clinician trying to find a work/life balance.
Studies show that most clinical professionals are doing a bad job maintaining their physical health. One study showed almost 30% of nurses have a chronic health condition. Over 40% of male and 50% of female doctors say they are burned out. In addition to the risk inherent to our patients, these studies show the big risk to the health of our nation’s cherished healthcare providers. Here are some tips for how clinicians can handle the demands of the profession while still taking better care of themselves:
Making Healthier Choices
One of the best ways to change old patterns is to start with a small change. While you can’t control the stress at work, you can make small changes in your diet that may help you cope better with job demands. For example, if you skip breakfast in the hustle of getting ready for work, try taking the time to eat before the commute. Simple changes like eating more fruit and vegetables can help. If you’re grabbing fast food, stop or cut back, and certainly reduce the amount of soda you’re consuming. Upping your water intake is a necessity; it’s ironic how we recommend this to our patients and fail to follow our own advice.
Most large clinical facilities provide access to their workout areas. While walking may be the last thing you want to do if you’re constantly rounding, you could slip in on a break and try a simple upper body weight routine to improve your health. It’s also the positive effect of the break itself, whether you’re walking around the building, going to the chapel to clear your mind, or working out. The point is to consciously take a break, get out and away from the turmoil, and recharge, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.
Wearing an activity tracker can be an extremely useful tool. There are apps now that track everything from your calorie intake to the number of steps on a shift. But there are also meditation apps that can help you refocus internally throughout the day to center yourself. Take advantage of all these tools to improve your health and reduce burnout.
Quitting Smoking and Drinking
Ironically, doctors and nurses still smoke and drink to excess. These addictions can be hard to overcome. The good news is that there are often EAP or other clinical resources available through HR to help you cut back or quit entirely. Your healthcare organization works hard to make these tools available; the question is: are you ready to use them?
One other way to improve your health would be to simply work less. Why not consider a per diem healthcare role or a change of venue to help improve your work/life balance. Talk to the team at MAS Medical about all of the options available to work smarter, not harder, and get your health and life back on track.