How to Manage a Demanding Schedule in Healthcare
IN A NUTSHELL:
- Long, demanding hours can take a mental and physical toll
- Important to make time for yourself while remaining selfless
- Protect your vision, get enough sleep, automate as many tasks as possible
In this day in age, working countless hours and putting in overtime are all too common. The “grind” of working long hours has become glorified and even encouraged when trying to succeed within your career. Medical professionals have been living this reality for a long time. Medical residents can log anywhere between 40-80 hours a week, and nurses can often do the same. Doctors and physician associates are working full weeks as well and make themselves available to be on-call after hours.
Medical professionals are incredibly caring, selfless, dedicated and compassionate. However, working long hours can take a toll on a person, which can cause burnout, fatigue, and a decrease in productivity to name a few. Before you feel like you have nothing left to give, here are some tips to incorporate into your work schedule that can help you manage the effects of working long hours in the medical field and prevent symptoms of burnout before it occurs.
Make time for yourself
Although medical professionals are focused on the health and wellness of others the majority of the time, without that personal time to care about your own wellbeing, you won’t be able to provide for others in a way you want to. That being said, making time to truly take care of yourself is crucial. After a long shift, exercise is often put on the back burner because sleep is precious and hard to come by. However, squeezing in a 20 or 30 minute workout can make a huge impact on your wellbeing. To keep yourself accountable, invest in an affordable workout app full of quick workouts and even meditation videos to help ease your mind after, or before, a stressful day. For medical professionals, the countless benefits that exercise has on physical and mental health are well known, but in the midst of a hectic schedule they can easily be forgotten. Just as you spend your days taking care of others, make sure you take care of yourself as well.
Prepare your meals
After working a long workday, it can be difficult to find motivation to prepare a meal for yourself when you get home. In most cases, it could be easier to grab something quick from the refrigerator or pantry, but oftentimes it’s not the healthiest option and more of a snack that isn’t as filling. One way to combat the effect that long working hours can have on your eating habits is to prepare your meals ahead of time. If this idea feels intimidating, follow a meal prep guide to help you get started. Start by dedicating one or two hours a week to preparing food that’s quick and easy to grab, while also being a healthy and filling choice. Nutritious meals can go a long way in surviving a long work week. Put together some overnight oats, salad bowls, or sandwiches and you’ll thank yourself as you’re walking in (or out) the door!
Automate what you can
Working in the medical field, especially this past year, has made it extremely difficult to find enough hours in the day to achieve everything on your to-do list, and that is why automation platforms should become your best friend! For example, you can set up automatic bill pay with your bank so you never have to stress about paying bills on time, or budget for a cleaning service so you don’t have to spend your free time doing chores around the house.
Another idea is to utilize a grocery delivery service. Have your groceries and necessities delivered right to your door without having to lift a finger, all to embrace the moments of freedom between long hour shifts. During a stretch of stressful shifts in the medical field, prioritize your own health and wellbeing and leave the details up to someone else. It may cost a little extra—but it’s worth every penny in the long run.
Outside of your personal life needs, there are plenty of digital health tools to help make your career easier. An app such as Vigil allows you to verify your identity, store all of your licenses, and removes the headache of hurdles to provide healthcare. Credentialing and payer enrollment is a headache of a process for medical professionals and their administrators.
Ready Doc™, developed by Intiva Health, makes the process quick and easy. The solution is a win-win for providers, patients, and facilities! The credentialing process is fast and hassle-free. With our credentialing software providers can start treating patients sooner, revenue is boosted, administrative work is reduced, and there is more time for patient care.
Protect your vision
Have you ever ended a shift with your eyes feeling like they’re on fire from being awake for so long, but also from staring at a screen while entering notes and patient information? It might seem like this is not a big deal and just another effect of working long hours in the medical field, but after a while the effects can start to creep up on you if not properly managed.
One way to combat these issues from worsening over time is to purchase blue light glasses to keep on hand during your time at work, or for time spent logging notes in front of a screen. Wearing blue light glasses with lenses specifically designed to block harmful blue light from entering your eyes, prevent eye fatigue, and most importantly protect your retina from future damage.
Eye health is something that should never be avoided, and it’s often forgotten about, but it’s especially important to keep in mind while working in the medical field. This tip can help combat the effects of working long hours more manageable.
Create a sleep routine
A good night’s sleep rejuvenates your body and gives you the energy you need to conquer the following day. As a medical professional, sleep can be hard to come by, and while one tip was to prioritize self-care no matter how much you want to close your eyes, it is important to rest your body when you can. If you’re working the night shift, this can be tricky, therefore, try using black out curtains and a smart-light alarm clock. The combination of a dark environment while trying to fall asleep and a light that mimics the sunrise as you wake up is a great way to “trick” your body into falling into its natural circadian rhythm.
After a potentially stressful day of working long hours, throw on a weighted blanket to stimulate the release of serotonin and melatonin, while decreasing your cortisol levels. As a medical professional, you deserve a comfortable sleep whenever possible in order to do your best in serving others with care.
The medical field can serve as an incredibly rewarding profession, helping people day in and day out, but it’s also OK to put yourself first. Lisa Nichols once said, “Your job is to fill your own cup, so it overflows. Then you can serve others, joyfully, from your saucer.” Don’t forget to make time in your busy schedule to fill your cup and combat the effects of working long hours in the medical field.