Guest blog by Lisa Nolan of Aslan Virtual Admin. Lisa uses her nursing background to provide Virtual Administration and Medical PA services to health & voluntary sectors.
How is your work/life balance these days?
If you just snorted in exasperation, don’t click away! Read on for a quick tip on how one small action can make everything much better …
Recently, our colleagues on the front line of healthcare have been issuing increasingly urgent warnings that they are at breaking point. They are burnt out, working harder than ever, doing more hours but earning less. They are seeing exasperated patients who have been waiting for longer than usual for shorter appointments. They have little or no opportunity to work collaboratively with patients to devise personalised plans of care, even though this is what the informed and engaged patients of the 21st century expect and deserve. Healthcare professionals from all disciplines spend their working days ‘fire-fighting’ – treating presenting conditions as quickly as possible with absolutely no time to address additional challenges like multimorbidity and polypharmacy.
Multi-tasking? More like ‘Hyper-Multi-Tasking’…
While constantly lauded as an essential quality for most jobs, multi-tasking is only effective if it’s productive, especially in healthcare settings. If you are finding that you are chronically sleep deprived, not exercising, scrabbling around the ironing pile looking for clean clothes or opting for convenience food most days of the week – it’s time to reboot.
We are parrots when advising patients to take care of their health, but healthcare professionals need to remind themselves as well that getting adequate sleep, eating well, exercising and enjoying life with family are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to life. These are the things that provide the physical, mental and emotional nourishment we all need to be productive, but they are often the things we tend to skip when work and other responsibilities take over. When we do this too often, work becomes harder and less productive – so cutting back on sleep and leisure time is at best useless and at worst counter-productive.
In fact, a recent study of neonatologists found that their responses were “similar to physicians’ feelings that their work prevents their having leisure time and emphasizes the importance of leisure time in maintaining a good quality of life. Engaging in leisure time activities, such as spending time with one’s family and friends, and being engaged in physical activities, can prevent burnout.”1
Nurse burnout has been linked with reduced patient satisfaction in a number of studies, but a cross-national investigation in six countries during 2010 to assess its impact on patient care revealed that “higher levels of nurse burnout were significantly associated with a greater likelihood of nurses’ rating quality of care as fair/poor”.2
Even more seriously, “Sleep Deprivation can impair job performance and increase risk for worker errors and injuries. Errors made by fatigued healthcare workers also can endanger patients.”3
When we find ourselves in the ‘patient’ or ‘relative’ role – and we all do at some point – we need you, our healthcare professionals, to be at your best – because we can’t manage without you. Yours is the kind face and comforting arm when we’re told that our antenatal scan shows a still heart. You are the angel who organises pain relief for our child within 3 minutes of arriving at the A&E with an agonising fracture. You are the person who has the awful task of breaking bad news about someone we love, but you do it gently. You are the compassionate one who made our terminally ill parent comfortable.
While we need you to be at your best, we also want the best for you. So here is your tip:
1) Grab a pen and piece of paper. Nothing fancy. The back of an envelope will do.
2) On the left side, write a list of what you need to do every day. Include eating and sleeping. Add ‘unexpected’ to the list, because life happens!
3) Re-write the list on the right side, in order of importance this time.
For your own sake and for the sake of those who depend on you, take 60 seconds now to scribble this list, identify the changes (however small) that will make a difference, refocus your priorities and pencil in time for the good things in life.
Do whatever is needed to achieve your perfect balance, because yes – you are worth it.
References available on request.
Click here to find out more about Lisa and how she can help you improve your quality of life.