In recent years, “balance” has become a bit of a buzzword. It seems we are all seeking “better balance”, “work/life balance” or “a balanced lifestyle”. Is balance truly something that doctors can aspire to, or an unattainable ideal?

As a medical recruitment agency based in New Zealand, Good Together is committed to helping doctors find better balance so one of the first conversations we have is “what does better balance mean to you?”. Even if you know you want better, defining what “balance” looks like may require some time for consideration.

Definitions of better balance

Doctors that we have worked with have shared the following ideas to define what “better balance” means to them:

  • Working 3 days instead of 5
  • Not working on-call
  • Finishing work at 2.45pm to allow picking the kids up from school
  • Living close to the beach to allow for a pre- and post-work surf 
  • Working 3 months for 4 days a week, and having 2 weeks off before repeating the cycle. 
  • Being able to hike every weekend.
  • Choosing locum placements within areas of NZ of personal interest.
  • Having 20 minute patient appointments rather than 15 minutes.
  • Being able to work from home via telehealth rather than in-practice appointments. 
  • Earning great money to fund 2 annual family holidays.

It is clear that “better balance” is not only a highly individualistic goal, but also a variable that is relevant to a specific life chapter. As priorities, family commitments, and personal needs change, so too, will the ideal of balance. 

Can better balance be negotiated?

As a profession, medicine has unique demands that may not allow as much working flexibility as other professions but if you are clear on what “better” looks like, it is possible to negotiate towards your version of balance. Locum work and telehealth are new ways of working that can reward doctors with a new sense of flexibility and autonomy. Working as an advisor, or supervising a junior doctor, may allow for a break from standard clinical tasks, while utilising your significant experience and knowledge. 

It is important to distinguish and embrace “better” rather than “best”. Better suggests constant improvement, striving for more, transience and flexibility, room for growth. “Best” suggests finality, a final goal, closure and completion.

Define your version of better balance

Figuring out what “better balance” looks like to you may take a bit of self-reflection and discovery. Here are some question prompts that you might find useful:

  • How satisfied am I with my relationships?
  • How satisfied am I with my physical wellbeing
  • How satisfied am I with my spiritual wellbeing
  • How satisfied am I with my mental wellbeing.
  • What in my life do I want more of?
  • What in my life do I want less of?
  • What experiences do I find energy giving?
  • What experiences do I find energy draining?

Make your balance better

When you have greater clarity on what is working well and what could look better, speak with your employer or recruiter to discuss changes to your contract. If you are in between roles, this is an ideal time to bring your needs to the table of prospective employers. 

Negotiations can feel tough but being clear on what you want gives you a strong place to start from. Involving a recruiter can make the process feel easier. While your absolute ideal of balance may not be attainable from the outset, knowing that you are attaining better is a fantastic start. If you are not sure what is realistic or reasonable, speak to your recruiter as it is likely you won’t have been the first person to ask! 

So, if balance is to be achieved, it needs to be defined according to you. Bringing your version of better to the negotiating table is a key step in moving towards your ideal. 

Similar Posts