Why It’s Important for Hospitalists to Take Time Off
The moment you become a hospitalist, you cede control of your time. The schedule is demanding, the hours are extremely long, and sometimes, taking time off is almost next to impossible.
Moreover, even if paid time off is available, many individuals choose not to use it. Why? A variety of reasons exists: there is no one to take the shift, you cannot financially afford to take time off, the workload will be unmanageable when you return, your advancement in the hospital will be affected, and the list goes on.
But who cares? Hospitalists may work non-stop, but the continuous work isn’t causing any harm, right? Wrong. For hospitalist, vacation deprivation has far reaching consequences. Yes, people who do not take time off may not immediately suffer physical or mental consequences from the lack of rest, but they lose so much, whether they are aware of it or not.
The Road to Unhappiness
Failing to take time off robs you of job satisfaction. When the hospital is all you see and work is all you do, you forget who you are outside of work. Hobbies and interests that normally make you happy are set aside and worse, relationships with friends and family are taken for granted. That is not the recipe for a well-balanced life.
Work is undoubtedly important, but you also need to pay attention to your life outside the hospital. As a person, you have other needs and you are more than your job. More importantly, your family and friends need you, and maintaining good relationship with them requires time and energy. Strive for balance and make time for your loved ones. And while you are at it, schedule time for yourself, too.
Your Health Matters
Just because you spend all your time in the hospital doesn’t mean you are healthy. In fact, if you hardly stop working, you are likely to be setting yourself up for a health crash.
High levels of stress lead to all sorts of diseases — something that people become particularly susceptible to as they age. Chronic conditions like heart disease, depression, and hypertension all easily latch on to someone who is neglecting their health.
That’s not saying that you should go on a vacation every month, but even just a few rest days here and there make a big difference for the body. Just a day or two with lower stress levels allows your entire body to reset and breathe better. Remember, your job is not only to take care of other people; you also need to take care of yourself.
Running Out of Juice
Performing demanding tasks in a highly stressful environment can easily deplete your reserves. How do you expect yourself to be productive when you are constantly draining your resources? You only have a limited amount of cognitive capital. A non-stop barrage of stress, fatigue, and negativity can take its toll very quickly, making it harder for you to stay focused, be attentive, and provide solutions.
Do you want your performance to improve? Take time off. It sounds counterintuitive but a short R&R every now and then is the fuel you need to generate energy and creativity. Get out of the burnout track. A short rest will let your brain recharge and replenish, which will let you come back to work more productive and more focused.
Never underestimate the power of taking time off. It will make you feel like a brand new hospitalist. You can do this by scheduling vacations ahead of time, doing more activities with your friends and family, resting from work when you get home, and sleeping as much as you can. Respite activities restore your mind and body. You have nothing to lose, but you become a better hospitalist when you take time off.