In my job, I’m fortunate to speak with physicians every day — both about their jobs and what they do outside of work. After hearing an incredible story of adventures taken by one of our locum tenens doctors, I thought to myself, what do I like to do outside of work?
But maybe the better question is, what am I doing to make sure I am doing it?
We often speak about work-life balance. Almost as much as we talk about burnout.
The problem is that they are very real problems. Every day, American workers get deeper and deeper into work overload. In fact, the Harvard Business Review reported that the physical and psychological problems associated with employee burnout cost an estimated $125-$190 billion per year in healthcare spending.
Yes, that’s with a “B.” Yes, that’s mindboggling.
Unfortunately, we also know this is true for physicians like you. You’re overworked, drained, asked to do more for more patients with more overhead and greater demands. The sacrifice is less quality time with patients and a lack of quality time outside the office.
So, I got to thinking: what if the solution isn’t constantly drumming the reality of burnout, but rather taking a step back and remembering all the activities, projects, and hobbies that make us happy?
For me, that’s become a greater passion for supporting my son’s traveling basketball team. It also meant time traveling with my family and watching live music. These are the things that inspire me. And keep me going.
It’s something I have learned, sometimes by force, from listening to story after story after story from our locums docs. They do some amazing work. But they also do wonderful things.
Take, for instance, our “scuba doc,” Dr. Jacqueline Brown, OB/GYN. After 14 years, Dr. Brown decided to take some time away from medicine and rekindled her love for scuba. When she discovered locum tenens, she made her scuba hobby a regular part of her life. Locums gives her the flexibility to work three or four months at a time and then travel for about a month. She says that she has now done almost 600 dives and has no plans of stopping.
“My current situation is ideal,” says Dr. Brown. “The locum tenens lifestyle gives me the freedom and flexibility I need. I will likely continue this way for another 10 years…” But it’s more than that, her locum tenens work takes her to places she would never have gone. Often times, she’s the only OB/GYN on call for miles. “Those patients are so grateful to see an experienced provider. I feel much more appreciated now than I did in my regular practice.”
Another locum tenens physician who stands out is our “Medical mission doc,” Dr. Jane Park, a med-peds physician. Dr. Park always knew she’d want to use her skills to do good work abroad. She’s made good on that by pursuing medical missions in many places. Locum tenens gives her the flexibility to pursue her passion. It’s also brought her closer to her family. Her significant other lives in Peru, so she uses that opportunity to work in remote locations serving people in the Peruvian Andes.
Her commitment to service earned her a selection to the 2018 Difference Makers trip to Kenya, a service funded by the Making a Difference Foundation. This special trip is awarded annually to healthcare professionals who have demonstrated their passionate commitment to helping others. Dr. Park was most definitely deserving of the recognition.
One last physician I’d like to highlight is our very own “artist doc,” Dr. Steven Swancoat. Dr. Swancoat fell in love with New York City during his second year of medical school. That was also where he found a creative outlet in art. Beginning with a simple point-and-shoot camera, he has since expanded into painting, graphics, and film. Locum tenens freed up time his OB/GYN job couldn’t. But more than that, his art is actually helping his practice. And vice versa. “I like to pay extra attention to [the small details],” says Dr. Swancoat. “Symmetry and aesthetics and that reflects both in art and in medicine.”
For each of these locum tenens physicians, their hobbies have made them better doctors. For Dr. Brown, taking time away from medicine helped her rekindle her love of it. Dr. Park says that working medical missions helps her become more adaptable in any work setting and more open to new ideas. And Dr. Swancoat says surgery and art go hand in hand—creativity, attention to detail, and passion for perfection.
Recently, I’ve taken their lead and made my hobbies a bigger priority. I too have seen the benefits.
So, what hobbies inspire you? It only takes a little bit of effort to do what you already love. And the effect could be powerful.