It should come as no surprise that healthcare professionals work long, hard hours. We spend nights, weekends, and holidays working or on call. When we go to sleep at night, we think of our patients — whether it’s the one that is difficult to diagnose or the one that is very sick whom we hope we gave the best medical care. This is all in the scope of a clinician’s typical practice. But like any other working professionals, doctors need to take vacation days.
Here are six signs you need to take a vacation:
1. You Dread Going to Work
As doctors, we’ve worked hard throughout our careers. They should be rewarding endeavors for us. If it gets to the point where we hate going to work, we may be experiencing an early sign of burnout. Spending some time away from the job can help us recharge and refocus.
2. You Don’t Have Time to Do Things You Enjoy
Everyone needs a break. As medical professionals, we sacrifice many things in our lives, and far too often it is the things we enjoy most. Taking some well-deserved time off can help reignite a passion or a hobby. Having an outlet from the stresses of our work is a great way to relieve stress and create work-life balance in our lives.
3. Your Family Feels Neglected
No matter how busy our practices or how successful our careers, our families should always take center stage. If too many of our children’s games and performances are being missed, just taking some time off to reconnect with the family can help alleviate feeling of being overworked.
4. You Are Always Tired
We all have days where we struggle to make it to end of the day, and we wake up just as tired as when we went to sleep. I think we all know that feeling, but we shouldn’t have to. Sure, we want to give our patients the best care, but what good is it if we kill ourselves in the process? We need to stay healthy and alert to offer the highest quality of care to our patients.
5. You Find It Hard to Listen to Your Patients
We think we have heard it all before, and most of the time we have. When we get to the point that it gets hard to focus on the patient in front of us, however, that is a sign that we need to take some time off. Sure, we’re human like everyone else, but each and every patient deserves our full attention. If we are unable to give them that, we need to take some time off.
6. You Just Want to Take a Vacation
If you are in private practice, make time for vacation. There is nothing wrong with just taking time off for the sake of taking time off. If you have vacation time available, use it; that’s what it’s there for. If you’ve always dreamed of sailing the Gulf of Mexico or visiting Bali, do it. I know this can be costly, but it is imperative for maintaining good health. If need be, I work additional hours before or after a vacation to make up some time.
Have You Made Your Decision?
If it is time to take a vacation, there are many preparations you need to make — and not just in terms of packing. Employed physicians may need to exchange shifts with other physicians or clinicians or arrange for changes in their call schedule.
For doctors in private practice, taking time away from the office can be a complex process. We strive to do the best for our patients and don’t want to leave our them unattended or in unfamiliar hands. Patients need to be reassured that when we are away, someone will be there when they need them. This can be either another doctor they know or a physician or clinician hired temporarily through a locums tenens staffing company.
How to Hire a Locum Tenens Physician or Clinician
Let your locum tenens staffing company know well in advance when you plan to take time off. Although Barton Associates can often get a locum tenens physician or clinician to you very quickly — usually within two weeks, and in special or urgent circumstances, within 24 hours — it’s best if your account manager has time to find the exact right candidate for your practice.
Make sure you know the following:
Details about your insurance, credentialing, and privileging requirements. That way, you’ll be able to easily explain to your account manager what you need in a locum tenens physician or clinician.
Specifics about the malpractice coverage that Barton Associates provides. If you have any questions about it, now is the time to ask.
What kind of physician or clinician would be a good match for your patients. If you see many kids in your practice but the covering doctor doesn’t has much pediatric experience, this may be a mismatch that could affect patient care.
In addition, do the following before you leave:
Discuss scheduling flexibility with whoever is covering for you while you’re away. While you and your staff may work late every evening, the covering doctor may not be so inclined. However, both parties could compromise and reach an alternate agreement of one or two evenings per week, or whatever is best for the circumstances.
Listen to your staff when you return. If they had concerns about their temporary co-worker, consider working with your Barton Associates account manager to find a different match in the future.
Let your patients know you will be taking time off and who will be covering for you. Send an email blast informing your patients of your impending absence. If they do not wish to see the covering doctor, then they can schedule their appointment for before you leave or after you return.
It is very important that everyone, including healthcare professionals, take a vacation from time to time. There are many doctors and advanced-practice clinicians currently doing locum tenens work, so finding coverage now is much easier than in the past.