Walking along Pier 39 at night, you look to your right and the lights twinkling over the water illuminate Alcatraz, San Francisco’s infamous prison facility and now a major destination spot. Across the country, sitting atop a mountain hideaway outside Asheville, North Carolina, you can’t see anything for miles, only the stars above and the moon so close that it seems you could reach out and touch it.
These are the kinds of experiences people yearn for. The old saying “work hard, play harder” accounts for the tremendous popularity of Asheville’s craft beer culture, Nashville’s live music scene, and the crazy mix of food, music, and booze down in Austin in the heart of Texas. Once in a lifetime opportunities are right at hand.
Physicians, despite dedicating their lives to a calling to serve and then spending years honing their knowledge and skills, are often the first to forego vacations, going on trips with family or friends, or just taking time away to let one’s battery recharge. The job can be all-consuming. Vacation time can become an afterthought, much less a priority.
Yet, it is not as if doctors can turn a blind eye to others enjoying themselves. They see people discussing their trips on social media, views photos on Instagram and Facebook, and hear the stories at work. This discrepancy can lead some physicians to experience symptoms of burnout and job fatigue, despite how personally meaningful the actual work of being a doctor is to the particular individual.
According to a 2016 Mayo Clinic study by Andrew J. Jager and a team of researchers, about 30 percent of physicians they surveyed experienced some degree of burnout, which they characterized as “emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment.” Their efforts also demonstrated that burnout is intricately tied to well-being and personal and professional satisfaction.
What Jager and his team also revealed is that doctors who felt burned out also began to see medicine less as a calling, which had negative consequences for the physicians themselves. When the sense of medicine being merely a job and not a calling intensified, it often resulted in lower patient satisfaction, poorer health outcomes, and higher associated costs.
The Locums Solution
The answer for many physicians and the networks that support them is explicitly recognizing the demand for physician well-being. Locum tenens work can help in this effort, creating opportunities for physicians to have a better work/life balance.
For doctors hoping to spend more time with family and friends – their essential personal well-being network – locum tenens enables a better daily schedule by giving the physician more control over the days and hours worked. Gaining flexibility and control in this area is a significant way to avoid burnout.
Vacation time is so precious in a career dedicated to patient care and improving people’s lives. The stress and pressure can be alleviated by some quiet time spent in the Colorado mountains or a fun week at a North Carolina beach. Choosing a life in medicine does not mean that travel and vacation time falls off the table.
For physicians planning to vacation and spend time with loved ones, Locum Tenens work provides an opportunity to travel, because the doctor chooses work location and schedule. Visiting new places opens up a world of work/life balance that is almost unprecedented in the healthcare field.
Physician well-being is a critical concern in the twenty-first century. As Jager’s team concluded, it is at the heart of healthcare, explaining, “Physicians who view medicine as a calling consider their work providing patient care to be one of the most important things in their lives, personally rewarding, and contributing to a better world.”