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Is work-life balance a reality for physicians?


There’s no one-size-fits all answer to the question

These days, there’s no such thing as work-life balance for physicians. For them, life is more of a work-life puzzle – trying desperately to fit time with family and friends, for hobbies, or any activity that occurs while not staring at an EHR into the tiny slivers of time not occupied by medicine.


Previous editorial: ABIM needs to look in the mirror when discussing lack of trust


It is a daily struggle that grows into weeks, months and sometimes even years. And for some, the struggle leads to stress, which leads to lack of motivation to continue practicing medicine. 

Starting with this issue, we want to help.  More specifically, physicians want to help each other.

Within the pages of this magazine (thank you for dedicating a sliver of your time to us, by the way), are the winners of our 2017 Physician Writing Contest. This year, we focused on achieving work-life balance.

We received nearly 100 essays from doctors who want to share their own struggles, and, perhaps more importantly, share strategies for others to learn from in their own quest for balance.

Now, I’m not naïve enough to think that solutions to finding work-life balance are universal. There’s no one-size-fits all answer to the question: “How do I leave work behind and find time for myself?”  It’s not that easy.

But there are others who are filling in the pieces of that work-life puzzle with family time, participation in sports, exercise and myriad other pursuits that have nothing to do with healthcare. Maybe, like Dr. Johnson, you can reclaim a day dedicated to yourself. Or, like Dr. Frank, you can enact a “personal tracking system” to ensure that work hours and home hours are duly accounted for.


Further reading: Why are women leaving medicine?


Learn from their examples and perhaps pick out parts of each piece of guidance that could apply to your own life and your own situation.

Next: Who knows what kinds of breakthroughs we may find together?  


In each issue through September 10, we’ll share another physician essay featuring insight and guidance to help you along your own journey.

But we also want this to be a dialogue, because we know that the struggle for personal time is a challenge for physicians everywhere. You talk about it with your fellow docs in your city or state, but we want to elevate that to a larger stage to build a network of physicians helping physicians.


Popular on our site: Marriage, children cause more burnout for female physicians


It’s too late to enter this year’s writing contest, but we still want to hear from you. Tell us how you achieve work-life-balance, or try to achieve it. Send us your strategies, your credos to live by, heck, send us some photos of you actually doing something outside of your practice. We’ll publish the best in print and online to give others inspiration or simply just a smile.

In medicine, best practices and learning from examples are critical. But that can also apply to life outside of white coats and stethoscopes.  So read, learn and share. Who knows what kinds of breakthroughs we may find together?  

Keith L. Martin is editorial director of Medical Economics. You can follow him on Twitter @klmartin_ubm. E-mail us your work-life balance strategies, suggestions, etc., at

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