Category Archives: Expectations of doctors

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?

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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 management: is it something you struggle with?

Attention doctors, physicians, registrars, junior doctors, private medical practitioners:

Time Management mistakes nearly every doctor makes.

Do you struggle to get things done through the day? Do you wonder what’s happened to the time and feel upset at how little you get done?

Do you notice that some of your colleagues seem to cope much better than you do with the amount of work there is to do each day?

What might happen if you carry on like this?

  • You are less and less efficient in relation to your medical work.
  • You forget about the life you had before you worked as a doctor.
  • Your friends and family complain that they never see you.
  • You take most of your holiday to unwind.
  • You regret becoming a doctor….

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But it doesn’t have to be like that. There are simple strategies you can adopt to take you to a place when you can:

  • leave work at a reasonable time
  • be able to relax and enjoy life away from work more
  • feel happier at work and get things done more efficiently and effectively
  • learn simple ways to make a difference in your life.

Here are the strategies you’ve been waiting for :

    • 3 reasons why doctors struggle with time management
    • 7 mistakes doctors make in relation to time
    • Simple ways to ways to overcome these
    • Benefits of managing your time more effectively

 

Time Management Mistakes nearly every doctor makes

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Taking work home with you

A very common challenge amongst doctors who strive for a more balanced life is how to stop taking work home with them.

There are at least three  ways work  doesn’t stay in the hospital or clinic and ends up going home with you:

1. Taking physical documents, patient’s files and journals with you in order to catch up during the evening or weekend.

2. Taking thoughts with you so that you find it difficult to ‘switch off’ and continue  thinking about a particular patient and whether or not you might have missed something or prescribed the right treatment.

3. Dealing with other people’s questions and expectations: they have a medical problem and think you are willing to give your opinion whatever the time is and wherever you may be.

What do you do to make a clear division between work and leisure time?

Please comment in the box below.

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Are these the biggest 12 challenges for doctors today?

doctor with headache

  1. Goal setting: Setting goals: Vital to set SMART goals so you can be very clear about what you want.
  2. Work life Balance: Balancing work and life – there is more to life than work.
  3. Managing time – essential for making space for a new life to happen.
  4. Self care: Deciding what you have forgotten to do lately and make a commitment to improve your self care
  5. Environment and behaviour: Noticing how small changes in your environment and or your behaviour result big positive effect
  6. Capability: you may be needing to learn some new skills and or   teaching some skills to people around you.
  7. Beliefs and Values: recognising that some beliefs are powerful enough to stop your change, yet beliefs can be changed.
  8. Identity: You are not your job or profession. Noticing how your ideas about who you are, may be stopping you doing what you want.
  9. Purpose:  Discovering why you are here and by doing this being motivated to achieve your purpose.
  10. Communication skills: Being  able to communicate what you want to do when it affects others and learning how to do this more effectively
  11. Stress management:  Learning techniques to reduce or get rid of stress.
  12. Creativity: getting in touch with your creative side which may have been dormant if your job has encouraged you to follow rigid procedures.

Comments  and additions ….please add yours.

Group support for doctors?

Many people find joining a group for support through change is beneficial. Would a group for doctors who want your lives to be much, much better also work?

It might be useful for doctors who:

  • have read about personal development
  • haven’t made the changes they want yet

Doctors might resist joining a group because they:

  • never have enough time
  • have not been fitting in much apart from work into their day.
  • find that their family complains they are never at home
  • can’t remember when they last had a walk, went to the theatre or saw a film…….

Being part of a supportive group is for you if you want to:

  • Make changes in your life
  • Have more time
  • Stop feeling stressed
  • Become fitter
  • Be happier
  • Recognise you have choices
  • Enjoy the synergy and support of a group.

Joining a group can be an opportunity for support, encouragement and motivation. You may be able to meet each other face to face but it can work well if you meet on the telephone or on the internet. Any way that you can share ideas in a supportive environment can be very useful.

But how many doctors would be willing to do this? Is there a built-in resistance amongst doctors about admitting vulnerability and not being able to cope with something or needing to discuss future plans in a non-judgmental environment?

Being part of a group is commonplace for doctors especially when discussing clinical decisions. Could it become more often used too as a way to talk about personal development and also emotional issues in relation to dealing with patients? Not the diagnosis and treatment but more about how they deal with the emotional impact of dealing with patients.

What do you think about group support for doctors?

Just do what you really want to do…

Have you got some brilliant ideas which you think might revolutionise the way you, your colleagues or the whole health service might work? Is there a bit of an entrepreneur in you? If you’ve always had a yearning to do something innovative or unusual what will you do to take your ideas forward? Perhaps you’ve thought of something which could revolutionise the lives of the medical profession or for patients with certain conditions. Don’t keep these ideas to yourself. Decide to do something about it.

With plenty of encouragement you may find that whatever you are keen about is of interest to others. They want to hear about what makes you ‘tick,’ what you are passionate about, who you are in your medical role or what you get up to outside of Medicine.

Who or what boosts your morale and fuels your enthusiasm? Think of someone who can give you the unconditional support you need, who sees you and your ideas in a positive light and encourages and motivates you to take them forward.

With that sort of support changes which seem impossible can become quite easy. You may be surprised how simple it is to do something different once you’ve made up your mind and stepped over the narrow dividing line between the situation you find yourself in and the one you want. Your ‘comfort zone’ may not be ideal but it’s often reassuring because you know the rules, even if you don’t like them, at least it’s familiar territory, easier to cope with than to step into an unknown situation. Taking that step into another situation can seem so daunting that you remain ‘stuck’ sometimes for years. knowing what you want to do, even knowing how you are going to do it, and yet you don’t take any action for change.

Ask yourself what stops you taking that first step. Very often it is fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or fear of what other people might think of you. So you, like most other people, take the easy way out and put up with the situation as it is.

Think about it: if you are living the sort of life which results in you feeling unhappy or unfulfilled and you know exactly what you want instead and yet you stay in the same place. Instead you can take some small action and move to where you really want to be because when you actually take that step, you may wonder why it took you so long to take action.

Doctors need support as much as other people

What do you do if you feel that you can’t cope with a situation? Perhaps other people are making suggestions to help you but you don’t listen because you don’t like the idea of asking for help from someone else.

You may be someone who believes that you have to deal with everything on your own without any help from others. It’s true there seems to be a culture amongst doctors of the idea that they have to deal with whatever happens in the course of their work or personal life on their own and without any support form others.

If this applies to you ask yourself , why?  Is it because you believe it’s a sign of weakness  to admit you find it difficult to cope with the situation?

It can be difficult to admit that you don’t know all the answers, especially if you believe others will think less of you if you admit ignorance. Yet if you can get over this obstacle, which may be to a large extent in your own mind rather than having much basis in reality, you can then begin to experience how wonderful to have someone to talk to about what’s going  on for you.

It’s a remarkable process that happens when you allow yourself to talk openly and truthfully to another person about the stress or challenges you are experiencing. The actual telling is in itself very powerful and in so doing you become of all sorts of answers to your dilemma and may decide quite quickly what to do next. This is all without much interception form the other person except for the listening skills they’ve used and perhaps the occasional question they’ve asked of you. The latter will have made you think of exactly what your desired outcome for the situation is and

So, stop putting obstacles between you and other people and  don’t put up barriers to communication either, nor  hold back from jumping to conclusions.

You may have people such as colleagues or friends or family who would be willing to listen to your dilemmas and guide you towards finding a solution for yourself. A coach will have been trained to do this effectively. One of the most important attributes a a good coach is starting on time, listening intently, asking pertinent questions and helping you explore some options you hadn’t thought of before.

Then you can take the leap you know you must take and make good choices for your life change.