ASA Community members share what they did right—and not so right—early in their careers.
We know medicine is stressful. Anesthesiology in particular, can be very stressful. So, as part of the discussion around how to avoid, acknowledge, and address burnout, a recent ASA Community post asked what experienced anesthesiologists wished they'd known when they started out.
ASA Community members stepped up, with tips pouring in from across the U.S.
1. Set your own scales. People will offer great advice, but know that balance for you might not be the same as the person standing next to you. As one poster noted, ”We all have different values, priorities, and tendencies toward stress...Taking some time now to contemplate what this looks like for you will help to get you on the right path." Forget what others think you "should" do, whether it's work more or work less, and give yourself permission to follow your instincts.
2. Carve out time to exercise. You already know the long list of benefits to your body and mind—what you may need is the ability to give yourself permission. You'll never regret going for a walk, run, ride, or swim, even if it means getting up early. "I am only as good to the patient as I am mentally, physically and emotionally healthy," added one member. "It shows in my interactions with patients, colleagues, and administrators."
Another members wrote, "If I can squeeze in a 10K on a busy day, I feel like I've gotten away with something—which isn't necessarily a bad way to feel when you're being pulled in all directions." Think of it as part of patient care.
3. Expand your interests. Find a hobby—photographing the stars, dancing, building models, live-action role playing—that makes you lose track of time. Look for opportunities to give back within the specialty or your community.
4. Nurture your relationships. Many posters agreed that taking time for a partner, children, and good friends is important. One pointed out that "The years when you are raising young kids will be shorter than you think, and you will not get them back." Another suggested that your family "will suffer more for lack of your time than lack of money." On the flip side, don't worry when you're not there as much as you might like—just be present when you are.
5. Start investing early. As one commenter suggested, "If you spend less, save more, and invest wisely, you will have more ability to choose your own work/life balance."
6. Think beyond pay. After choosing a very busy practice and quickly burning out, one poster said they moved to "a practice with fewer hours in the OR and slightly less income, but more rewarding." Another bought out of call to have more time with family. Ultimately, commenters agreed, "You will make good money no matter how many hours a week you choose to work or in which setting." So it's important to also enjoy what you're doing, feel in control of your career, and have time for yourself.
7. Take the vacation. "I didn't take all the vacation allotted me...but I should have," recalls one ASA Community member. Another pointed out that, "Nobody on their death bed ever wished they'd spent more time at work."
8. Don't try to do it all. "Hire people to do the tasks that are time-consuming but not life-affirming," offered one poster. Cleaning, administration, you name it—your time has value outside work, too.
9. Learn from people who know. There are many great books available, and one commenter wished they'd "read the really good books that would have made me a better person and doctor."
10. Reevaluate every ten years. One ASA Community member likened life to investing—"Rebalance if you find your time investments or returns are out of whack with your goals. Where do you want to live? What kind of patients do you want to serve? How much money do you need to meet your goals?" Another who has changed course regularly throughout her career noted, "Starting something new ignites the stale parts of your brain!"
Engage with and learn from your peers. ASA Community is your place to post a question or share your thoughts. Join the conversation now!
And be sure to check out topics tagged for Early Career Physicians, where people are talking about exactly what's on your mind today.