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Three Attainable New Year's Resolutions for a Locum Tenens Clinician

Posted on: December 26, 2019

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written by

Teresa Otto, MD

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Most New Year's resolutions fail by January 12th, at least for resolutions involving exercise and dieting. Other popular resolutions, such as improved money management, stress management, and working on relationships, barely fare better. Overall, 80 percent of all New Year’s resolutions are history by the end of February.

Keep reading for three attainable New Year's resolutions for locum tenens clinicians, plus tips for making them a new way of life.

Get Moving

Busy clinicians are on the move all day. Going to the gym after a long day easily gets sidelined after an endless night on call or a tedious day caring for patients. Luckily, movement isn’t limited to running on the treadmill. Steps add up by parking farther away or by taking the stairs when going from floor to floor.

Walking an extra block to your car or climbing the stairs increases exercise throughout the day in small, manageable pieces without a monthly membership fee. If you’re curious about how many steps you’re getting, wear a pedometer before and after you make your resolution to get moving.

Work on Stress Reduction

Being a healthcare provider is stressful as it is. Even more stress is added when you become part of a new team on a locum tenens assignment. Not to mention, no matter where you practice, patients certainly don’t behave according to textbooks, upping to your baseline stress level, too.

Daily stress management looks different for everyone. For some, a trip to a gym, climbing those stairs, or a walk around the block at lunchtime will do the trick. For others, meditation or deep breathing help.

A free phone app, called “Take a Break!” guides you through a seven-minute work break or 13-minute stress relief meditation program by listening to a soothing voice, calming music, or nature sounds.

Exercise and meditation require a bit of time whereas four deep breaths take a few minutes but offer lasting stress relief. Dr. Andrew Weil teaches a 4-7-8 breathing method – a four-second inhalation, seven-second pause, followed by an eight-second forced exhalation once or twice a day. Anecdotal reports state stress and blood pressure lower, cravings decrease, and sleep comes faster.

The 3-6-5 breathing method is more time consuming but proven effective for stress reduction. Deep breathing three times a day, six inhalation cycles per minute (5 seconds to inhale, 5 seconds to exhale) for five minutes is the goal. This can be done during a break or between tasks. The technique works not only on acute stress, but chronic stress as well.

Improve Your Financial Health

As a locum tenens healthcare provider, you’re likely to be paid more than your colleagues employed by the hospital or clinic. Many expenses will be tax-deductible, as guided by your accountant. Take the time at the beginning of the year to review your financial health and goals for 2020.

Are you burdened by debt? Plan to aggressively pay off your highest interest debt first. Work on paying off credit cards and high-interest student loans. After your monthly obligations are fulfilled, pay yourself next – before you buy the new car you don’t need or the Coach bag you can live without.

Contributing to your retirement account early and often will give you financial freedom later. Visit with your accountant about different retirement plans and the tax advantages of each.

Along with an annual financial check-up, make a resolution to spend consciously. Review fixed costs, discretionary spending, and savings habits to set yourself up for financial freedom.

Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution

First and foremost, be realistic. If I make a resolution to run the New York Marathon next November, I’m guaranteed to fail. My age, fitness level, and the fact that I’ve never run a marathon would set me up to fail in a big way. If I make a resolution to run a local 5K race instead, it’s doable.

Share your resolution goals with others. Talk about it. Post it on social media. Others will hold you accountable, hopefully in a kind way.

Commit to following your resolution for 24 hours. Renew the commitment each morning. If you fail one day, commit the next morning to getting back on track rather than giving up entirely. It takes 21 days for a lifestyle change to become a habit, but about six months for it to be cemented into your daily routine.

Track your progress and reward yourself along the way. Looking back a year from now, you’ll see just how far you’ve come making a doable New Year’s resolution. Commit to 2020 being the year you achieve your goals and lead your best life.

Teresa Otto, MD
About Teresa Otto, MD

Teresa Otto, MD, is an anesthesiologist who has traveled extensively as a military physician and more recently as a locum tenens anesthesia provider. Her travels have taken her to 44 states and 50 countries and all 7 continents.

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