Work-life balance is out of whack for many doctors

A staggering number of doctors lack adequate time for their personal lives, says psychologist Catherine Hambley, Ph.D.

Indeed, 71 percent of physicians who responded to the 2016 Great American Physician (GAP) survey said they don’t have enough time for themselves and more than half of respondents said they have a poor work-life balance, writes Hambley, who provides a preview of the survey in a piece for Physicians Practice.

Most doctors work between 41 and 60 hours a week and some put in more than 80 hours, she says. Many doctors would like to cut their work hours, with 61 percent saying they would consider going part-time if they could. For many doctors, time is more valuable than money. Many said they would select a specialty that offered more time for their personal lives, which was more important to them than a more financially lucrative specialty

Too often physicians pay a price for that imbalance between work and life, which ran result in fatigue, poor health and burnout, Hambley says. But there are steps doctors can take to relieve stress. 

Doctors can start by assessing their priorities and values, she says, looking at work, personal life and their own well-being. Then they can track and manage their time based on those values, she says. There are also practical ways doctors can improve work-life balance. Among her recommendations: Physicians must learn to delegate, only check email three to four times a day, spend quality time with their significant other and take a team approach if they work in a group practice.