Updated: Jul 5, 2020
For many, working in healthcare is a fulfilling career path, and while the industry has justly earned a reputation for long hours and demanding schedules, a healthy work-life balance is possible. Between emergencies, co-workers’ absences and the growing demand not met by the existing workforce, healthcare workers need to set boundaries and ensure that home life does not suffer. Some tips for maintaining this work-life balance in the healthcare field follow.
Make time for health.
While taking care of other people, often both at work and home, some studies point out that hospital workers are generally less healthy than workers in other industries. This may seem strange at first, but when taking into account the long hours and busy pace at work, combined with the stress of balancing home life, it becomes easy to understand how self-care goes by the wayside. Setting aside time for exercise, routine care visits is essential. Maintaining a meditation or spiritual practice should also take a priority role in daily life to help with a balanced life.
Take a break.
Advancing technology has made some significant changes in the workforce, many of them good but one with negative consequences on work-life balance. This is the phenomenon that people are always connected, so many health professions never really stop working. E-mails, social media and electronic work files can be accessed from almost anywhere, so as long as not on-call, shut off the phone, computer or tablet for at least a few hours a day. Let home life be quality time away from work. Healthcare workers are particularly prone to overworking themselves, but taking time away leads to a higher level of productivity in the long run.
Healthcare workers are especially vulnerable to time-wasters in the workplace being a service-oriented field. Be mindful that there are many other patients to see and tasks to complete. Be polite, but develop a quick way to get out of long, irrelevant conversations, both with patients and co-workers. This way, work tasks get done at work, instead of bleeding over into home life. Time-wasters exist at home, too, so look for ways to complete a productive task while doing something that does not require full attention, like exercising while watching television.
Scheduling and organization
These are the keys to maintaining work-life balance. Setting up a household calendar so that nothing gets forgotten or double-booked allows the more mundane parts of life to run smoothly leaving more time for the things that matter. Meal planning/preparation and adapting a scheduled routine in the morning free up time that might otherwise be spent looking for keys or making extra stops at the grocery store. While difficult at first, once these routines are in place, they become automatic.
Periodically take a step back and identify the things that really matter, a list that varies from person to person. When balancing work and life with a career in healthcare, things get hectic, and it is not possible to do everything perfectly. Things that are not priorities need to fade into the background. For instance, worrying less about having a spotless home allows for more quality family time. Delegation is also essential, both personally and professionally to spread out the workload.
While stressful at times, healthcare workers can have it all, a fulfilling work and home life as long as they realize the challenges and take steps to avoid any potential paths to burnout. Along with these five tips, professional organizations within the industry also provide support and advice on how to achieve optimal work-life balance.