THE LAST WORD

Tips for Balancing Parenthood and Medicine

 

With limits and support, it can be done.

Fam Pract Manag. 2021 Sep-Oct;28(5):40.

Author disclosures: no relevant financial affiliations.

Being a parent is a blessing and a great responsibility. Parents are tasked with modeling life skills, values, resiliency, and grit (among other things) for their children. Although mother figures continue to bear the majority of child care,1 parenting roles are evolving and it truly does take a village to raise children now.

Physician parents are more likely to experience work-life imbalance because of our workloads,2 and this can potentially affect a child's formative years. To achieve balance, physicians must develop and refine personalized practices. We have personally found the following techniques to be helpful.

1. Set boundaries. We make it a goal to finish all notes and answer all messages before concluding the workday, so we aren't routinely taking work home. Specific EHR documentation and inbox strategies can help with this,3 but sometimes we have to sacrifice our lunch hour or book an extra “appointment” in our schedule to complete paperwork and charting. Although parenting may bleed into the workday (e.g., returning calls from day care, checking in with a child's teacher, or coordinating transportation to after-school activities), we try not to let work infiltrate our home. When we are home, we try to be fully present with our families, limiting any work distractions.

2. Let go of the guilt. It's normal to wonder, “Am I a good doctor and a good parent?” We need to recognize that although we may not be perfect in our roles as physicians or parents, we are doing our best. We should focus on what we are grateful for and all of our accomplishments; we need to stop comparing ourselves to other parents. The guilt stemming from comparison can be pervasive. If we recognize the portrayal of perfect parenting is unrealistic and focus on doing our best as parents and physicians, we will find ourselves more content and prouder of our many accomplishments.

3. Create “me time.” It is in our nature to sacrifice for our patients and family, potentially putting

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

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Dr. Nguyen is associate professor at Loma Linda University Health, Department of Family Medicine....

Dr. Jaqua is assistant professor at Loma Linda University Health, Department of Family Medicine.

Dr. Simon is professor at Loma Linda University Health, Department of Family Medicine.

Dr. Norris is a third-year family medicine resident at Loma Linda University Health.

Author disclosures: no relevant financial affiliations.

References

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1. Schueller-Weidekamm C, Kautzky-Willer A. Challenges of work-life balance for women physicians/mothers working in leadership positions. Gend Med. 2012;9(4):244–250....

2. Ryan L. Maternity, motherhood, and medicine. The Hospitalist. 2011;4.

3. Reddy S, Rippey PC, Cuenca AE, et al. Seven habits for reducing work after clinic. Fam Pract Manag. 2019;26(3):10–16.

4. Drummond D. Four tools for reducing burn-out by finding work-life balance. Fam Pract Manag. 2016;23(1):28–33.

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