Most doctors choose their field of work because they care about others and want to be able to help them. The financial and personal costs of obtaining medical education and purchasing the equipment to begin a practice, however, are significant. As a result, the doctor often feels trapped by student and business loans.
If this situation applies to you, I can imagine that you feel a strong need to work as many hours as possible but, at the same time miss being able to spend time with the family members who you love.
Take heart. You can make changes to your schedule but before you do so, it is important to gather some information:
1. How many hours do you need to work to cover all of your expenses and needs? - Once you have calculated the amount (after taxes) of money that you need each year divide this by the average fee that you bill for each hour of work The result will be the number of hours that you will need to work each year. Then divide this by 50 weeks (allow two weeks for holidays) and you will know how many hours per week that you need to work to earn your yearly gross income.
2. What activities are you committed to that you cannot change? - Write a list of all the hours when you will be scheduled for surgery, on-call or other duties that you cannot change.
3. Calculate the work hours that you can control - Subtract the unchangeable hours (#2) from the number of hours you need to work (#3) and you will know how many hours that you have some flexibility in scheduling.
4. Determine your billable non-patient hours - There are always forms to complete and reports to write for which you can bill the patient or a third-party. Set a specific time each week when you will complete these so that they don't pile up on you.
5. Identify the most preferable times to be with your family - You will have to decide what is most important to you. Do you want to be able to spend weekends with loved ones? Is tucking your children into bed at night a priority for you? Do you want to be present for birthdays or other family celebrations? Make a list of all the things that you don't want to miss and number them by priority.
6. Prepare your calendar - Enter your work hours in the following order:
- all the hours that are not flexible (#2)
- the priority times for you to be with family (#5)
- the times when you will be completing billable paperwork (#4)
- the "flexible" hours that are required to earn your yearly income (#3)
You might need to make adjustments to the schedule as you are preparing the calendar or perhaps after you have had a chance to implement it.
The important thing to remember is to put your family priorities near the top of the list rather than scheduling all your working hours and then trying to add the family in at the end.