Learning to Leave the Office Behind

May 19, 2016

Learning to Leave the Office Behind

by Natasha Mohr

You work hard and you deserve a vacation! But when the time comes to leave, you struggle to achieve healthy separation. And being a solo practitioner brings an added level of difficulty.

We asked our esteemed CSF 2016 faculty for their insights and suggestions on how they achieve separation and several (including Jeanine Downie, Suneel Chilukuri and Mark Rubin) replied they were hoping to learn this lesson themselves! So, what’s a doc to do?

We started with Michael Gold. He didn’t so much have a solution for separating entirely, but more a plan for carving out specific time to work.

“I can’t wait to learn that one. I think it is very important to have ‘vacation’ time where you turn things off – although, I rarely do this. I love to travel and to venture around the world, but I also find time to do what I need to do business-wise. Hopefully, it doesn’t interfere with my ‘free’ time.”

Amy Taub has a similar objective:

“Hard to do. I would suggest making sure that you have some type of official practice in place for patients who need you and when your staff should call you. Then do not bring your computer or if you do, do not look at charts or call in every day about patients or look at your emails all day. You can set aside one time late in the afternoon right before dinner to take care of urgent matters. This is much easier if you have associates, whether it be PAs, or MD. If you do not take time truly away, you will be a less effective physician. This is true but you may have to convince yourself.”

As does Joel Cohen:

“On the rare week of family vacation once or twice a year, I only use my laptop from 3-5 o’clock in the afternoon. It allows me to still be in touch with the office every day but, gives me the undistracted opportunity to enjoy the first part of the day with my kids without interruption – knowing that I’ll be checking in later. I’m always very grateful to my staff and my physician colleagues at the office, who triage things well – making that possible. And of course, I try to do the same for them. “

Then there are those on of our faculty go ‘cold turkey’ . . .

George Hruza:

“Make sure to turn off or leave at home all electronics. If traveling abroad, do not sign up for an international phone plan. Vacation when one spends an hour every day answering emails etc. is not vacation.”

Julie Woodward:

“I do not receive my work email on my phone ever! Best is to turn off the phone and the computer. It takes four days to detox, but then it feels so good you won’t want to turn them back on.”

And Carl Thornfeldt:

“The easiest way to create separation from the office when going on vacation is going to a destination that doesn’t offer cell phone service or is in a very different time zone. This forces a break, and allows me to be present and enjoying the moment. I also like to focus on staying active when on vacation. Exercise really helps clear my mind and re-energizes my body. Then when I get back I feel rejuvenated and more purposeful.”

Joe Niamtu takes certain preparatory steps before leaving, but  he also talked about how getting a break from the office means relying on a strong staff to hold down the fort.

“Don’t go on vacation!” (We can just hear that infectious laugh here . . .) “Seriously it is hard for solo docs to leave and ignore as something is always going on. A strong manager and nurse are essential. And my biggest tip is not to operate or do big cases before leaving town, as Murphy’s Law says the patient will have problems.”

So, we may not have completely cracked the case of the worry-free vacation, but we hope these suggestions help!

How do you vacation? Are you are able to create a healthy separation? If so, what are your tips? Let us know by commenting down below!

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