CanMEDS Manager



So, what can I do to find and maintain balance?

  • Know and trust yourself - your learning style, your personality profile, what you want out of life and let this inform your career choice and path within your chosen specialty. If the fit is not right it is possible to change

  • Set your own priorities, practice medicine in a way that works for you - it will make you happier and in the end you will be more likely to have a long and productive career.

  • Make room and protect time for non-work life - friends, family , outside interests, physical activity, spiritual community, and connection with people outside of medicine

  • Constant vigilance is required to maintain work-life balance.  Physicians are expert at deferred gratification. Workaholism is endemic in medicine.

These things need to be made explicit and reviewed regularly. Have a 5 and 10 year plan, you can always change it, but having a plan helps to focus your attention and direct your energy.




Know and set your own priorities




What would you like your children to say about you? your spouse? your parents?


What would you like your neighbours to say about you? your community? your faith group or religious community?


What would you like your patients to say about you? your colleagues?


How do you need to structure your life to make this happen?




Life Balance: 17 Tips From Doctors, for Doctors

1. Don’t try to be too efficient. Take time to really listen to a couple of patient stories a day. We need to be fed by our patients.

2. When recruiting for your practice, interview for emotional competence as well as professional competence. Ask questions such as, “What makes you satisfied? What do you find upsetting? How do you deal with the death of a much-loved patient?” Candidates who can answer questions like these have done some significant personal reflection and are likely to continue to grow and be assets to your practice and patients.

3. Take a few minutes at the end of the day to think about the things that really bugged you. Make a list of them, if you need to, and then leave it at the office.

4. Seek insight from your elderly patients. Ask them how they’ve dealt with their struggles and disappointments. Their wisdom may be surprising.

5. Sometimes say, “This just isn’t going to get done today,” and work on accepting it.

6. Take regularly scheduled days off. Your patients and your staff will eventually expect you to be off and unavailable during that time and, since it’s been worked into your schedule, you won’t have to feel guilty for being out of the office.

7. Share with your patients your struggle to find balance in your life. It’s likely they’ll respond with uplifting words and concerned advice.

8. Ask your family what they need most from you. It may be something different than you think. (Ask your office staff too.)

9. When you’re out socially with colleagues, make a real attempt to talk about things other than medicine. It will remind you that there’s a world out there.

10. Learn when to multitask and when to focus wholeheartedly on things that deserve your full attention.

11. Eat at least one meal a day with your family or with a friend.

12. Develop a support system. Everyone needs family and friends to rely on, but baby-sitters, house cleaners and someone to take care of the lawn can also do a lot toward relieving stress!

13. Don’t get into the habit of going into the office on the weekend “just to get caught up.” It’s rare to get caught up and rarer still to stay that way. Tell your friends and family that you’re trying to break this habit so they can remind you of it when you get the urge to go to the office.

14. Make friends with a few people who will agree to never ask you to be their doctor!

15. Remember that life balance is a shifting concept and you’ll learn from your attempts to maintain it. Some days will be better than others.

16. Ask yourself a simple question, “Is doing ________ going to make me wish I was home with my family?” If so, graciously say, “No thanks, someone else will have to do it.”

17. Realize that each one of us has our own mountain to climb. Try to remember to pause to enjoy the view along the way and to help and let yourself be helped by others you meet on the path.[1]







How do you cope with stress?


What do you do for relaxation?


Can you think of other things, that you do not do, that might be helpful for dealing with stress and finding a state of relaxtion?



1. Bush J. Balancing Act. Life Balance: 17 Tips From Doctors, for Doctors. Fam Pract Manag. 2001 Jun;8(6):60. accessed September 22, 2011

All references for this section