Category Archives: Challenges for doctors

Work life balance for you

It’s not uncommon for doctors just like you to feel dissatisfied with their life.

You like them may think there is little you could do to improve the situation and may be blaming ‘the system’ for most of your frustrations at work.

Yet you are becoming increasingly aware of how these spill over into your home life and social life too.  You find that Medicine takes so much of your waking hours that you have little energy left for the few hours left each day when you are supposed to be living the rest of life.  The whole concept of work-life balance may seem an impossible dream.

You know you want something to be different but are not quite sure what you really want, when you would like the change to happen,  why you want to change, who might be able to help you or how to make the changes you want to make.

So there’s the challenge. Can you make the shift from thinking about how frustrated and unhappy you are to changing your life to be more in line with the way you want it to be.?

Is this just a  pipe-dream or could it actually be possible to make changes which would improve your life in some ways so at least some of the frustrating parts wouldn’t overwhelm you so much and more of your time could be spent following more enjoyable pursuits with people you want to spend the time of day with?

Having  a more balanced life and finding time to do more of what you want to do is possible.   When you start to examine what’s happening and the reasons for it you can begin to find that there are things that can be changed quite simply.

The easiest first step is to pick just one thing that annoys you.  Ask yourself  what could happen instead for things to improve for you. Then challenge your assumptions about the situation. Ask if it really has to be that way and what small thing has to change to make a difference to you.  Which of your  boundaries have to change? Who will you tell that you will no longer so such and such?

As you tease out the situation in this way you are very likely to find a very simple change  that would make a difference to your working practice.

You have to take courage in your hands and talk to the person involved. For example tell the person who makes the appointments you are not prepared to see any extra. Doing this will enable you to leave earlier, have time for a swim or meet your children from school or whatever else you want to  do if you went home earlier than you do now.

 

 

How working with a coach enables you to have a life and find your perfect balance between medicine and life

Perfect Work Life Balance

How working with a coach enables you to have a life and find your perfect balance between medicine and life

A coach:-

  • Pushes your buttons – so you think about whether you could make changes
  • Encourages you to do things you hadn’t considered before- so by doing something different other things in your life change too
  • Reminds you to keep on track with  your projects- so you achieve what you want
  • Follows up your promises of taking action – so you move forward step by step
  • Energises you to get started- by believing in your ability to succeed
  • Coaches you to find the solutions right for you- so you are empowered
  • Talks about the pros and cons of what you might do- so you move forward with conviction

 

  • Believes in you and your capabilities, so your self-esteem improves
  • Answers your questions, so you understand more about the process
  • Listens to you fully –so you feel  respected
  • Alerts you to possible challenges –so you are prepared for them
  • Never criticises your ideas, so you feel valued
  • Communicates with you appropriately –so you feel listened to
  • Encourages you at every step, so you keep going until you achieve what you want

Look here for some recent feedback from doctors about how they experienced  Coaching from me. 

How will you feel when feeling stressed is no longer a problem?

The news is always full of stories about stressed and overworked doctors who  wonder how they can cope with all the tasks that have  to be fitted into each day.

If you are a busy doctor  what would be the most important issue or problem you would like to get rid of?

  • managing time more effectively?
  • having a better work-life balance ?
  • looking after your health and well-being?

Please let me know HERE by answering a short survey.

Click here to take survey

Take some  time to think about your life and whether it’s the way you want it to be.

Then work out, step by step what you need to do differently.

Always start with yourself because by changing yourself others will respond differently.

One of the most important things you can do is to improve your level of communication by listening twice as much as talking. This will improve the morale  within the practice and lead to a new more productive working environment with partners and staff becoming more motivated.

You will find that if you make small changes in the way you work that you can achieve real change for the better both for yourself and for the your medical practice.

Just like a spreadsheet when you change one thing everything else changes too.

It’s easy to stay stuck and not do anything to change the situation. People who have taken steps to do things differently are surprised at how easy it turned out to be. They have procrastinated for ages because they thought taking the first step would be more difficult.

 

Make the decision about what you need to do, find someone such as a coach or mentor to support you and go forward to live the life you want.

 

 

Keeping motivated…..

Coaching supports you

Find someone to support you

I’m coaching an established Consultant who works in a well known NHS trust.

With his permission, I want to tell you  what he has found useful about having coaching with me.
He contacted me because he wanted support and encouragement to develop a private medical practice.

He found that I:  listened patiently to his career ambitions which included a detailed discussion of how he could develop a private practice.

He writes: We discussed numerous issues including: work-life balance, ideal working day, impact on family life and money.
The solution to the development of the practice has emerged gradually over a number of sessions.
The main solution has been encouragement to push forward boldly, and to understand that a contented working life is not a selfish ambition but one that can result in benefits for all stake-holders (e.g. patients, colleagues, family) including myself.
He has, so far, achieved:
More courage to make decisions regarding NHS vs. private practice
 A successfully developing private practice at one of the hospitals identified as a possible site for work.
A great chance to discuss some of these issues, which are so often overlooked or simply not discussed in work.
What I offer him  is a confidential space to discover the way forward.
If you want support and encouragement to develop your private, independent medical practice;
If you feel stuck and want to talk then CALL ME
I won’t tell you what to do: I’ll listen to you and challenge you to think about alternatives you may not have considered before.

Enabling you to find your own Prescription for Change

Doctors and Holidays?

Holidays are supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable time, even if you are a doctor. It should be a time  to let go of the overwhelm of your medical practice and reconnect not only with family and friends but also with yourself.

But your experience may not be the idyllic time of fun and relaxation portrayed in the travel brochures. Your holiday  may equal your expectation of  what ought to happen when you take time away from work.
Instead of feeling refreshed and relaxed you come back to your patients feeling worse than they look,  exhausted, frustrated  and wondering what happened to your dreams of rest and relaxation.

While away you found it was almost impossible to forget about work- related worries and however much you tried to leave technology at home you found yourself checking and answering emails and discussing work issues with colleagues via email or Skype in spite of the irritation and annoyance of your family or friends.

You’ve been left wondering if it always has to be like that: whether as a doctor you can ever ‘get away from it all’, and enjoy a holiday.
But it doesn’t have to be like this! There is an alternative if you can do just three simple things:

  1. set boundaries
  2. look after yourself
  3. relax

Setting  boundaries: decide before you go away what you will accept  in relation to emails, telephone calls and dealing with emergencies: by making sure you have arranged adequate cover for your routine work, told those who need to be told what you do not want to be contacted about and who will deal with any urgent problems.

Looking after yourself: remember to address your needs in relation to:  body, mind and spirit so exercise regularly, by walking swimming or whatever opportunities your holiday destination offers, eat and drink well but not excessively; and enjoy the moment whether it’s a wonderful sunset a magnificent view from the top of a mountain or across the sea or whatever inspires you in your holiday environment.

Relax: Be aware of areas of tension in your body then consciously take a deep slow breathe in and as you breathe out let go of that tension. Repeat this exercise during the day whenever you think about work or things you have to do when you return.

There are of course many other things you could do when on holiday to let go of the work stress and return refreshed and face the challenges again.

However if you make a start with these three and please put a comment below this post with your thoughts about more  ways which help doctors enjoy their holidays more and leave work stress behind them for a while so that they, and you, can  come back to work refreshed and ready to tackle problems.

 

A Doctor’s Dilemma

Life is full of decision-making and there are many times in a doctor’s life when you have to stop and ask yourself: ‘Which direction shall I take now?’  in relation to your career path or to issues in your personal life. This is the doctor’s dilemma.
It may seem difficult to make that necessary decision because you are so engulfed in the ‘what will people think of me if I do this rather than that?’ mindset.  There may be well-meaning senior colleagues who talk as if they know what sort of life is best for you and as they describe how they see your future you inwardly cringe and wonder how they could possibly believe that they know what you really want.

Stop finding reasons and take the action you want to take….

No-one can foretell what the future will bring for you, that is why making some decisions about your life is such a dilemma for many doctors: however when you find yourself saying or thinking along the lines of:  ‘if I had my time over again I would definitely have made a different choice,’ then you have a strong clue about what you could or even should be doing with your life now.  So think back to a time when you took a leap into the unknown or decided to do something a bit scary and recall what it was that gave you the push to do it. Maybe you took a deep breath and jumped or maybe you wanted to prove someone’s judgement about you as wrong, whatever it took you took that apprehension and just did it.
Since you have started to think about alternatives and other possibilities about your life, you have already started on a journey of change and even with your dilemma about which path to take it’s important to make a choice without endlessly procrastinating.  Even if you decide to stay where you are things will be different because you have been considering other possibilities. That means that something will have changed in your present situation too. You may have discovered a way to improve it or may become more determined than ever to explore new ways. Project your thoughts into the future perhaps a year or several years ahead and imagine your life if you continue as you are or if you make the changes you are considering.
Can you imagine how the future you would look back to the today you and remember how great you felt afterwards and how pleased you were with yourself for being courageous enough to take that first step?

Confidential, one to one, on the telephone…. Can I help?

What makes a doctor stressed and what can they do about it?

Doctor, you may feel stressed because of what you perceive as an  excessive workload, so you work very long hours.

You’ve noticed how this pattern affects your  home life, especially your relationships with your family and friends.

You’ve experienced the stress of keeping to government targets, especially when this means you have to persuade patients  of the importance of  having screening tests or examinations.  Although this could result in discovering pathology it also means an increase in time  spent with each patient, investigations and subsequent treatment.

Unrealistic demands from patients raise your level of stress too. These means time taken to explain why what the patient is requesting is not indicated. Sometimes you may give in and then feel the stress of doing something which may not be in the patient’s best interests.

There is, too, the ‘gremlin’ sitting on your shoulder, nudging you about possible  litigation and asking you whether you’ve done the right thing, in case  the patient decides to sue you.

When you feel well and unstressed  you can deal with all of these things in a relaxed and professional way, but what can you do to move from stress to confidence and calmness?

Ways to reduce your stress levels are simple. The strategies listed below may
seem like common sense and some of them are just that. They are probably things you know already and may even be advising your stressed patients to do these already.

  • Stop caffeine: this has a huge effect on stress levels. Limit caffeine to one cup or less a day and notice how your  stress decreases.
  • Learn to relax. Do this at least once a day. Arrange to have a gap, a 5- 10 minutes each day, when you can sit quietly. This could be when you take a break in the middle of the day, or  in your office between patients.  It’s fine to do this sitting in a comfortable chair.  Close your eyes and start with your feet, think about each area of your body, and  consciously tense the muscles and then relax them.Take relaxing breaths whenever you feel the stress rising. Take a slow breath in, to a count of five,  as you think about breathing in relaxation, then a slow breath out as you think about breathing out any tension in your body.
  • Do some regular exercise: walking for 20-30 minutes each day either from your car, bus or train, to your place of work, or by going outside  in your lunch hour  not only to have something to eat away from your desk and patients but also to have a walk. 
  • Eat more healthy foods, which means eating more complex carbohydrates and cutting down on sugar and other simple carbohydrates. Eat a Mediterranean type diet, with more fish and less saturated fats

However simple as they seem to be, they work. So take yourself in hand and resolve to try the  five strategies until they become new automatic habits for you. To become automatic you may have to repeat something new for 21 days. So make a chart with these five habits listed and tick them each day  you succeed in doing them.. You could also log your level of stress each day on a scale of 1 to 10 and notice the improvement.

Want some support while you change?  Find out about coaching.

 

Making changes: you have to take action and stop procrastinating!

So many doctors would like to have a different sort of life. Do you sometimes dream of a life, yes, as a doctor, but with the time to do the sort of work that inspires you and has a huge benefit for your patients? Yet instead you have to deal with the reality of busy clinics, demanding patients with not much wrong with them while others who you would dearly love to have the time and energy to treat and give the benefit of your expertise to, are side-tracked because you have to keep going to get the work done each day.

Take your first step!

Perhaps at first you were so thrilled to have qualified after all those long years of study as a medical student, that you were even glad to suffer the lack of sleep and heavy work load of the time you spent as a junior doctor, yet always dreaming of when you would become a consultant and then at least you would have the life you dreamed of.

Yet perhaps it hasn’t quite worked out the way you hoped. You are the victim of your own success. Even though you are highly intelligent you just don’t seem to be able to make the changes you know you want to make. You succumb to the ‘emotional blackmail’ of colleagues asking you to do extra work, or the opportunity to do extra private work, because you know you can genuinely help people with your expertise and you hate the idea of letting people down by saying ‘no’.

You are juggling too many plates in the air and are becoming more and more stressed as a result.

There is an alternative: you could:

  • discover how to free up more time
  • start to put yourself first for a change
  • do the work you love, yet on your terms
  • change something in yourself
  • actually take the actions you know you have to take
  • stop procrastinating
  • become highly motivated

How can you achieve all of these?
Be highly self-motivated, make your plans and take action. You already know what you want to do so ‘just do it.’ But you’ve been like that for years so what would give you that push you need to actually make that difference and initiate the changes you want?

Find someone who is ‘on your side’, supporting your ideas, motivating you to take action, acting as a sounding board, challenging you to think through what you plan so you so you develop the strategy best for you.

Find out more about COACHING

Time, Doctors and Work-Life Balance

How will you get your time management sorted?

Doctors contact me saying that one of their aims is to improve their work -life balance. They know what happens when this is too heavily weighted to their work activities, seeing patients, or doing the admin tasks of a busy medical practice and too little towards the rest of life, but feel they are unable to change anything.

This article  has 17 useful tips: http://www.aafp.org/fpm/2001/0600/p60.html

I’ve written a couple of Kindle books (Critical Time management mistakes and More than 80 ways)  on the subject too.

Also there’s the article I wrote which  recently published in the Independent Practitioner: CLICK HERE

If you want to have a quick chat call me here,

or find out about personal coaching here.

What is your way to leave work behind you when you go home?

One of the challenges of being a doctor is worrying so much about what’s happened during the day that you may find it very difficult to ‘let go’ when you go home.

Do you worry about whether you’ve made the correct diagnosis, arranged the appropriate investigations and explained the procedures in a clear and unambiguous way to your patient?

Is there a little ‘gremlin sitting on your shoulder nagging you about whether you’ve been a proficient  doctor and done everything you have to do for that patient?

Don’t worry you are not alone! There are hundreds of other doctors who experience a similar sense of anxiety when they leave work and start to go over in their minds what happened during the day. And it’s not only worrying about one patient: those feelings you may have of not doing as much as you could do may be multiplied many times.

As a result you may begin to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. So what could you do?

You could develop a simple ritual to do before you go home so that you tell yourself that you are washing all that ‘stuff’ away.

You can do this simply by washing your hands and telling yourself that all your worries and anxieties are going down the drain with the dirty water. I used to do this and found it very effective.

When you do this or something which is relevant to you, then you will be better able to relax and enjoy your hours away from the patients and return next day feeling fully refreshed and ready to face up to the new challenges the new day will bring you.