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How Do Physicians Balance Work and Life? Here Are Two Perspectives

Note: These columns originally appeared in Pennsylvania Physician magazine's 2016 spring issue. Madushini Craner, DO, is a family medicine resident at Good Samaritan Hospital. Natasha Alligood-Percoco, MD, is chief resident in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Madushini Craner, DO

As a wife, and a mother to a toddler and a newborn, my strategy for achieving work-life balance is to work smarter, not harder. An efficient combination of time management, organization, determining priorities, and setting boundaries have gone a long way in helping me strike a healthy work-life balance.

I start by analyzing my present situation and then keep a log of everything I do in a certain time period, including work-related and personal activities. This data aides me in recognizing just how efficiently I am using (or abusing) my time.

Organization is paramount in my life. I use an electronic date planner to turn my goals into reality.

I set aside a few minutes at the beginning of each day to capture my tasks for the week ahead. I also sync my calendar with an electronic to-do list and write everything down from grocery lists, upcoming events, and celebrations to pending work presentations.

In order to determine priorities, I reflect on what's important to me and make a list of top priorities at work and home. I audit these priorities by using an A to D grading system ― A being "critical" and D a lesser, "would be nice if possible."

I believe I set fair and realistic limits on what I will and will not do both at work and at home, and clearly communicate these boundaries to my attending, coworkers, partner, and family. Additionally, I set aside a time at home during which I am fully present at home, and will not check or respond to work-related messages.

Natasha Alligood-Percoco, MD

As a young physician and mother, finding work/life balance has been my strategy for survival.

I currently serve as the administrative chief resident for the OB/GYN department at a university hospital. In addition to my clinical duties, I also manage resident staffing, and remain active with research and medical student education. At home I stay busy with my two daughters, ages seven and four.

This double life would not be possible without the support of my husband and family, as well as some serious time management and organization. I protect my "mom time" by avoiding charting and studying while home with my daughters. I stay organized by syncing calendars, lists, and reminders across my electronic devices.

Residency has been tough, so as a family we love to make the most of our time together.

Living in Pennsylvania has provided us with many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Our daughters enjoy camping and hiking throughout the beautiful state park system. Later this year we will be relocating to Williamsport as I transition to practice with Susquehanna Health.

We look forward to joining a new community, exploring a new area of Pennsylvania, and beginning the next stage of my career.

These pieces were reprinted with permission from Pennsylvania Physician.

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