Putting the ‘life’ back into Work-life Balance for Doctors

Published on 03/06/2022 Locum work, Ochre Recruitment,

For locum GPs and Emergency Medicine locum doctors, attaining (and maintaining) a healthy work-life balance is seldom straightforward, nor an easy process. The demands of hospital shifts, being on-call and inflexible caseloads can make the idea of any kind of balance with your personal life seem whimsical and unrealistic.

But it is possible, and you’ll find that taking care of yourself and having a life outside of work will actually help you to provide the best possible care for your patients. We’ve put together a set of tips that can point you in the right direction.

Set Boundaries

Avoid “mission creep”. Delegate surplus tasks wherever reasonable. If administrative staff, practice nurses or medical assistants can handle paperwork and follow-ups, let them do it. Remember: you can say “no” to additional tasks that would overload your schedule. 

Take Regular Breaks

We feel that avoiding burnout and a healthy work-life balance are connected, so we’ve included this one. Ceaseless mental activity eventually leads to brain fog, increasing the risk of mistakes and lapsed judgement.

This means not scheduling back-to-back appointments from 8am to 5pm. Wherever feasible or possible, try to block out at least five minutes between patients. Try to take an actual lunch break if you can; eating a sandwich at your desk is not a lunch break!

Having a demanding job requires an equally relaxing and rejuvenating time away from work in order to achieve balance.

Practice mindfulness

This is extremely useful for both professional focus and relaxing at home. Take five to ten minutes to breathe deeply, focus on your senses and ground yourself.

Additionally, it’s crucial to ‘make’ the time to do the things that you love, whether this is a favourite hobby, communicating with friends and family, or heading to the cinema. Taking the time to do what’s important to you personally will mentally afford you a proper break before launching back into the ED or clinic.

Stay healthy

Follow your own advice and training—take care of yourself! It's the most elementary, fundamental thing you can do to maintain a happy balance between professional and home life. As you’ve probably explained to patients many times: regular exercise, adequate nutrition, and enough sleep.

Enhancing your energy levels and boosting your mood will make it easier to get through a day’s work without crashing, and help you to enjoy your home life a lot more.

Work smart

It’s the truism that never dies: “work smarter, not harder”. That means prioritising your tasks and being efficient with your time. If you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed, it’s a clear sign that you need to re-assess how you’re doing things.

Prioritising lists are a highly effective way of getting to the heart of the matter both at work and at home. You’ll be surprised how much more manageable everything feels when you’re not trying to do everything at once.

Know when to ask for help

It’s OK to talk to somebody when you’re feeling stressed. Try to identify people who can who can help you better manage your workload or provide emotional support. This could be a medical colleague, a partner or a friend; it will be immediately apparent how much better it feels to talk these things through.

Depending on your level of work stress, it might be appropriate to seek professional help. The right therapist can help you workshop some healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with the demands of working as a GP locum or Emergency Medicine doctor.

If and when the time comes, there’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help.

Let Ochre Recruitment Help

Sometimes all it takes is the right role curated by people who understand your career aspirations and life-balance requirements. At Ochre Recruitment, we are ‘doctors for doctors’.  We own and manage over 50 medical practices across Australia so we see can see things from both the perspective of the healthcare provider and doctor. We understand how crucial it is for doctors to have a healthy balance between the personal and the professional spheres, and we have the network and experience to make this happen for you.

If you are a GP and would like to learn more about GP locum opportunities that will fit comfortably in with your work-life balance please contact Steph Nash at [email protected]

For a look at some of our GP VMO roles click here

Alternatively, if you are an Emergency Medicine Doctor, please peruse our ED Locum roles or get in touch with Naomie Rapira to discuss what you want out of your next ED locum adventure.


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