Physicians .. do you need a vacation?

I have written about work/life balance in the past (see “Do You Have Balance in your Life,” April 18, 2012) however, as the holiday season approaches, I think it is important to consider whether this is a good time to suggest taking a break from the hectic pace of your practice. In the news again today, there was a story about how Americans are given less vacation days per year than any other major industrial nation (10 days vs. 30 days for most Europeans) and that Americans rarely use all their vacation days. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/3041440/vp/50068545#50068545

Many people think that they are too busy to take a vacation or that if they leave for even a few days they will return to even more work than when they left. In some cases, Americans are afraid that if they do take a few days off their bosses will recognize that they are dispensable and may re-assign their work and their job to others. Despite whatever real or imaginary fears you might have about taking a break from work, the reality is that everyone needs to rest, relax and step back from the stress of their daily lives so that they have the energy to return to the workplace prepared to work. Physicians are no exception. Physicians deal with extremely stressful situations on a daily basis. Failure to take the appropriate breaks from your practice can lead to weight gain, depression, additional stress and poor decision-making.

As noted in previous posts, stress can lead physicians to make poor decisions related to patient care or can lead to them making poor personal decisions such as drinking and driving, committing a boundary violation with a patient, or seeking unacceptable ways to relieve stress such as sharing personal information with patients or “friending” patients on social media sites.  Ultimately, failure to implement appropriate stress management tools, including taking a vacation, can lead to future professional problems.

Whether you choose to stay home for a “staycation” or take that long-awaited trip, give yourself (and your practice) a break. It will do you a world of good.

As always, if you have any questions about the State Medical Board of Ohio or this post, please feel free to call me at (614) 486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.  My office will be closed from December 24, 2012 to January 3, 2013 to give everyone at CSC a much needed break.

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