During medical school and residency, and even early on in my career, I wish somebody would have made it crystal clear that I was setting up habits that would affect my lifetime success, both inside and outside of medicine.
I would have done things differently if I had known my work and time allocation habits would determine how I spent my life, both at work and at home, for the next 25 years.
As humans, all we really have has is time. And, it’s what we do with the time we have that reflects our values, our mission, our effect on our friends, family, patients, and our legacy both at work and in life.
As a resident, it is easy to get lost in the excitement of the job, the learning, the culture of self-denial, self-sacrifice, the excitement of healing. We are surrounded by folks who want to be the best, do the best, who often give up large parts of their lives to accomplish these goals. The pressure to compete, to work the longest, hardest, sacrifice the most, read the most, do the most cases, see the most patients is relentless.
But, we need to remember that our patients need to see us as real people, not just fountains of endless medical knowledge, but also humans with struggles, values, and wisdom perhaps outside of the latest journal article.
As medical decision making gets ever more complex, dealing with expensive, extensive, invasive procedures on people who often are late in their life journey already, or have very advanced disease, having your own human experience, with life outside of medicine, with families, friends allows you to bring so much more understanding to your patients and their journey.
As a resident, how you spend your time reflects your values, and sets you up for a lifetime of journeys and experiences, and will determine what you bring to your patient encounters. So, make sure you are spending your time in relation to your values and your goals. Make sure the way you spend your time adds value to both your life and your patient encounters.