The idea of work/life balance is something that get’s tossed around a lot. In fact, we already have a few ideas on what that might look like for a PA here.
But if we change the perspective a bit, there is a new question to ask. Does your why (the reason you became a PA) get suffocated by aspects of your work? What is your work/why balance?
Here’s what we know.
Leaving at the end of a shift or day is tough. Our job does not stop; labs are always pending, tasks need to be completed, or notes documented. In retail the shop closes and the doors are locked. In medicine the illness or test results continue, never waiting for you to catch your breath.
Chemistry and camaraderie are crucial for your medical team. This alone can positively or negatively impact your day-to-day experiences.
If you have been practicing for a while, you know that medicine has changed over the years. Today, it’s all insurance rules and regulations and legal matters. The role of the health care provider at all levels has become burdened with documentation. Perhaps you find yourself spending half of the day documenting treatment plans, progress notes, and discharge summaries.
The actual time spent with a patient in the act of healing or listening is less and less.
Even if you practice good work/life balance in your everyday, the big picture impact might creep up on you. The big picture is that all PAs are at risk for a gradual decline in drive, energy, and enthusiasm for being a health care provider. Especially when the documentation demands of the job cause you to lose touch with why you became a PA in the first place. Of course, you could argue that it depends on the practice or the hospital. We agree, that is true. But, as medicine changes and the need for you to document stays the same or even gets more demanding, you might lose a little bit of work/why balance.
Here are some things you can do to help balance out the work part of work with your why.
Make sure the team you’re on is the right fit.
If you are in the right place, you know it. If not, start asking around or make a couple changes until it clicks.
Have a working vacation.
This may sound crazy, but let me explain. A working vacation is a way to give back and reconnect you with your why. Sign up for a trip to volunteer at a clinic in need, join a medical mission trip to Haiti, help staff the medical tent at your nearby marathon race, or join a team that does medical screening for low income farmers and families. There are lots of opportunities. This will help refuel your why in the long term and keep your career feeling balanced.
Think about ways to give back. Here are a few ideas:
1. Mentor a new PA
Remember the first few months as a new graduate? Any help is appreciated. You can work along side the new graduate and teach them the nuances of the specialty, or it can be as simple as knowing where the best coffee in the hospital is kept.
2. Precept a PA in training
As our great profession grows, there are many opportunities to build bridges with local PA schools and take a few students in for the 4-6 week rotation.
Once you are an expert in EKG reading, suturing, understanding thyroid disease, or palpating an ovarian mass, it is time to teach others still in training. Connect with your local PA school and offer to cover that lecture for the faculty.
As you begin or continue to work in the profession, hold tight to your why. It will help root you and keep you focused. We would love to know your why. Share your story with us on social media.