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“My trick has been finding a career direction that inspires me,” says Lisa Schroeder, MD, a practicing rheumatologist and internal medicine clerkship director at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Penn., who is also wife to a busy physician and mom of two daughters, ages 3 and 6.
She has a passion for education, which is fulfilled by her work with third- and fourth-year medical students, residents and the rheumatology fellows she works with in her split role as educator and clinical rheumatologist. “My work in medical education is rejuvenating and gives meaning and purpose to what I do,” Dr. Schroeder says.
She works 80% of full time. Dr. Schroeder has one day a week to participate in her children’s activities, keep up with life outside of work and carve out a little time for herself.
A Tricky Balance
Dr. Schroeder admits this balancing act can be challenging at times.
“Work as a physician doesn’t always stop after you leave the office, and I’m equally focused on my job as a parent,” she notes, explaining that she works hard to keep evenings and weekends free for family time.
Many physicians make work–life balance a priority, according to a 2017 survey by the American Medical Association, which found 92% of millennial physicians think it’s important to strike a balance between work and personal and family responsibilities.1 However, only 65% of these physicians felt they had achieved this balance.
Dr. Schroeder says rheumatology offers opportunities to balance work and home life activities.
Practice Efficiencies to Make It Work
In her work life, making quality time for patients, medical students and fellows is a priority for Dr. Schroeder. To achieve this, she has found several strategies that allow her to be smart with her time in professional practice.
1. Keep a focused schedule: Maintaining two calendars, one for work and one for family life, works well for Dr. Schroeder. She and her husband have a connected home calendar to keep up with their daughters’ activities.
At work, the education coordinators and administrative assistants she works with all have access to her work schedule. Having a supportive team and understanding colleagues is key to help keeping her workday running smoothly, she says.
2. Leverage online documentation for patient support: Dr. Schroeder makes good use of her facility’s established electronic medical record (EMR) documentation with secure online portal for messaging patients and making notes to track patient progress.
She coordinates this documentation with the nurses in her practice through nurse phone visits between patient clinic visits, ensuring patients feel connected. This approach also helps Dr. Schroeder ensure her treatment plans for patients are moving in the right direction.
3. Don’t sacrifice professional development: “Working with students and rheumatology fellows who are always curious and excited to learn keeps me on my toes with making time for professional development,” Dr. Schroeder says.
Online education is an important tool Dr. Schroeder uses to keep up with continuing medical education (CME) and emerging research. She also schedules time to attend the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting when she can, and takes advantage of such professional learning activities as the ACR’s CARE program. She also uses home CME offered through her institution to complete online learning courses.
4. Avoid burnout: Keeping such a busy schedule and giving time to others can be draining, Dr. Schroeder admits. To combat this effect, she takes time for herself by doing yoga and coordinates bike rides and other family fitness activities. At the end of each day, she is also deliberate about taking a little quiet time for herself, engaging in fun reading and reflection, to reset for another busy day.
Carina Stanton is a freelance science journalist in Denver.
- Miller RN. Millennial physicians sound off on state of medicine today. AMA Wire. 2017 Mar 27.