How healthcare professionals can establish a work-life balance

Imbalances in work and life can result in lower quality of care for patients and also cause damage to the wellbeing of healthcare professionals themselves

Concept for overworked and stressed healthcare professional

Finding a work-life balance in healthcare isn’t always easy. Work schedules for healthcare professionals can be unpredictable, and the personal nature of healthcare work can prompt many providers to devote more of their time to help improve the health and wellbeing of their patients rather than focusing on their own needs and wants.

Yet, a work-life balance is perhaps more important to healthcare workers than any other type of professional. Imbalances in work and life can result in lower quality of care for patients and damage to a provider’s personal relationships and health. Mental, emotional and physical health are critical for providers who are responsible for the mental, emotional and physical health of patients.

How healthcare professionals can establish a work-life balance

Finding a balance between healthcare work and personal life can take time, but the following tips can make the process easier for any type of healthcare professional:

Identify top priorities

At the start of a healthcare career and periodically thereafter, professionals should  identify their priorities. Creating a list of one’s responsibilities and sorting items from most to least important can help a professional feel more comfortable and confident in their career and lifestyle. For example, a healthcare professional at the start of their career might list their work as a top priority and put as much energy as possible into establishing a reputation and developing a network. After a few years, that same professional might feel secure in their work and pivot their focus to their family and relationships. In this way, they have more control over where they allocate their emotional and physical energy, so they can avoid becoming imbalanced and burning out.

Be willing to ask others for help

No healthcare worker is an island. Healthcare professionals work in teams to find solutions that most benefit their organisations and their patients; when duties become overwhelming, professionals should be able to turn to their peers for support and assistance. Healthcare professionals must become comfortable asking for help from coworkers to ensure safe and effective care.

Likewise, healthcare professionals need to be capable of asking for help in their personal lives. Lower-priority responsibilities can often be outsourced, either to other family members or to paid service providers. For example, if a healthcare professional doesn’t prioritise cleaning their home or caring for their yard, they can hire home and yard cleanup services. No one can do it all, and there are plenty of home tasks that can be accomplished by others to save healthcare workers’ time and energy.

Gain the skills to cope with change

A common stressor for those in the healthcare industry is constant change. Healthcare is a dynamic sector, affected by ever-advancing new technologies, shifting government policy, evolving health threats and more. Healthcare professionals at all levels can enroll in a healthcare management course focused on preparing workers with the skills and knowledge to help their organization face internal and external change. Training and tools can reduce anxiety about the unknown, so continuing to learn and develop within the healthcare field is an excellent way to gain greater balance between work and life.

Create boundaries

Many healthcare professionals endure irregular schedules that make it difficult to separate work and life. For example, being on call makes it difficult to leave work stress at work. Still, healthcare professionals should do what they can to create boundaries between their work and life. For some, this might mean eschewing remote work opportunities unless a professional has a dedicated personal office space from which to work. Creating a physical division in one’s home spaces and work spaces can help prevent a heavier workload that puts work and life out of balance. Similarly, healthcare professionals should make it clear to their professional peers that they will be unreachable during certain times when they are off the clock. This goes double for vacation time when healthcare workers should be focused on resting and relaxing.

In summary

Healthcare professionals should hope for long careers with high patient satisfaction and solid patient outcomes. Unfortunately, if healthcare professionals neglect their work-life balance, they could be prone to burnout, physical health concerns, relationship damage and other issues that will negatively impact their career and lifestyle. With the right techniques, tools and training, professionals can maintain a balance between work and life for as long as they work in the healthcare field.

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