Tag Archives: Self Care

Health Tips for Male Physicians From Fellow Doctors

Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed in this blog are based on the expert opinions of the quoted medical professionals. Post content does not constitute medical advice and is not a reflection of the official stance of Consilium Staffing.

Despite their vast medical knowledge and everyday immersion in the healthcare field, physicians are not immune from facing the same health struggles they help their patients navigate. In fact, as their schedules becoming increasingly hectic, physicians may actually be at higher risk for hypertension, burnout, and slipping into a sedentary lifestyle, all of which can be linked to poorer physical and psychological health. For Men’s Health Week, we spoke with two family practice physicians for tips on how fellow male physicians can counteract those risk factors and maintain peak physical and psychological health.

  • Sahba Ferdowsi currently practices medicine at a men’s health clinic, where he guides patients through health challenges specific to adult men.
  • Steve Papariello, medical director for the Men’s Wellness Centers located in Florida and Virginia, operated his own practice for more than 25 years.

Make Your Well-Being a Priority (And Don’t Apologize For It)

“You have to truly, truly prioritize self-care,” said Papariello. “If you aren’t taking care of yourself, it’s a lot harder to provide the best possible care for your patients and to be your best self for your family.”

Many physicians are unsatisfied with their current work schedules, which frequently leave little room for vacations, time with family and friends, or the pursuit of outside interests. That combination can quickly lead to burnout, one of the many factors that lead physicians to make the switch to working locum tenens, which offers the flexibility to prioritize your emotional health while maintaining your medical career.

“If you want to maintain longevity working in medicine, you absolutely have to figure out how to create a realistic work-life balance,” Ferdowsi said. “You have to leave work at work, period, and you have to decide how much you can work and still feel ‘full’ emotionally. I have found that mindful meditation is incredibly helpful in bridging that gap in my own life. I certainly recommend that physicians begin practicing mindfulness as part of their self-care routine.”

Take Charge of Your Own Health by Going ‘Back to the Basics’

If you ask most physicians about the health advice they give their patients, two dominant themes emerge: diet and exercise. But in their personal life? Studies have indicated that as physicians work increasingly long hours, physical activity is erased from their daily routine. [2] Additionally, physicians experiencing burnout are more likely to describe themselves as overweight or obese than are physicians who do not report burnout symptoms. [1, 3]

“It’s something we all already know, but the most important thing you can do to improve your health is to simply return to the big two: diet and exercise,” said Ferdowsi. “Watch your overall calorie consumption, eat more fruits and vegetables, and get up and exercise—even if it’s just going for walks.”

Papariello agrees, and adds the recommendation that busy physicians exercise first thing in the morning. “I get up at 4:30 in the morning to go biking,” he said. “Otherwise, I know it wouldn’t happen. Previously, I worked upwards of 12 hours per day, seven days a week. By the time I got finished for the day, there was just no way I was dragging myself to go work out. But when I bike in the morning, I actually get to enjoy it again.”

Enlist a Support Team

As a physician, you frequently make decisions that affect your patients, your practice, and everyone on your healthcare team. But who helps you take an objective look at your own health and well-being?

Ferdowsi highlighted the importance of relying on a solid relationship with another healthcare provider: your own physician. “Make sure you have a good primary care physician, adhere to the age-based recommended schedule for testing, and if you feel like something might be wrong, don’t put off going to see your doctor. We don’t talk about this nearly enough, but as you age, you become increasingly at risk for developing symptoms associated with low testosterone levels. See your physician if you notice elevated fatigue, decreases in muscle mass, and a loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy.”

In addition to your primary care provider, Papariello adds that family members can be invaluable in helping physicians check in on whether their current arrangement is meeting their needs.

“When I worked such long hours, I was unhappy with my schedule but was too exhausted to do much to change that,” said Papariello. “My move to working as a medical director was actually due to my wife. I came home late one Monday and learned that after seeing an ad for a job that looked like a good fit, she had set me up for an interview the next day. I jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back since. Now I certainly don’t advocate that everyone go become a medical director, but I would suggest that you keep an open line of communication with those who know you best.”

Daily Health Tips for Busy Physicians

Health and fitness advice can often be nuanced and complicated. Drs. Ferdowsi and Papariello recommend keeping it simple and adding a few of these behaviors to your daily routine for a measureable improvement in your overall health:

Considering a change in your practice schedule or setting? Search our open locum tenens job opportunities and build your career around your ideal work-life balance.

Sources

  1. Helfand BK, Mukamal KJ. Healthcare and lifestyle practices of healthcare workers: do healthcare workers practice what they preach? JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173:242-244.
  2. Liang, J. J. (2014). Diet and Exercise During Cardiology Fellowship Training. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 64(16), 1755-1757. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2014.08.026
  3. Medscape, Physician Lifestyle Report 2015.

Holiday Self-Care for Behavioral Health Professionals, Part 2: Get Creative to Preserve Your Sanity

Struggling to find the right work-life-holiday balance? Check out the first post in our series for tips on how medical professionals can prioritize self-care during the Christmas season.

Stressed about holiday obligations and expectations specifically, from gift-buying and meal preparation to playing the part of the flawless host(ess)? At the end of the day, crafting the “perfect” holiday gathering will pale in comparison to enjoying time with your loved ones. Make your Christmas special (and still pull off that beautiful celebration, minus the anxiety) by delegating tasks and incorporating family into some of the preparations that you usually handle alone.

Or, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, get a little creative and shake up your whole holiday routine:

Give in and let Aunt Betty make that “unique” dish she keeps raving about.
If you are usually solely responsible for preparing an extravagant holiday meal for immediate and extended family and friends, request that guests bring their own signature desserts, beverages, or side dishes. Who knows, you may even end up with a new favorite recipe for next year!

Turn holiday shopping into a game.
Cynthia Clinton, LPC, said that Christmas shopping used to be anxiety-provoking for her until her family of six went a little non-traditional one year: “We set a rule that all Christmas presents had to be secondhand, salvaged, or homemade, and it was probably the most fun we have ever had. The kids came up with everything from vintage poodle skirts to already scratched-off (but winning!) lottery tickets, and we didn’t need to spend exorbitant amounts of money to have a happy, hilarious holiday.”

Revive the holiday wonder of your childhood and pay it forward.
Reminisce on all the things that made Christmas so enchanting when you were a child. Was it the sheer beauty of neighborhood decorations, the thought of Santa’s magical evening journey, or perhaps the joy of finding the perfect gift for loved ones? Whatever you most loved years ago, find a way this year to bring your favorite Christmas memories to life for others. This could mean conspiring with friends to finally cross caroling off everyone’s holiday bucket list, or perhaps acting as a “Secret Santa” (beard optional) for a family in need in your community. Whatever direction you choose to go, reigniting the wonder of Christmas in your own life may really be as simple as bringing that old magic to life for others.

However you celebrate this year, we at Consilium would like to wish all of our healthcare providers a happy (and stress-free) holiday season. If you have a clever “holiday hack” not mentioned above, share the wisdom—add it in the comments below! Merry Christmas, from our families to yours.

Want to learn more about locum tenens? Visit the Consilium website to view current opportunities for medical professionals across the country and internal candidates based in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Holiday Self-Care for Behavioral Health Professionals, Part 1: Take Your Own (Expert) Advice

The holiday season, though hopefully a joyous time of fellowship with friends and family, can instead turn into yet another stressor for already-busy healthcare providers. This especially can be the case for psychiatrists, counselors, and other behavioral health specialists, who frequently remain on-call during the holidays in the event a patient is in crisis. As you assist clients with navigating seasonal stressors, how do you ensure that you do not sacrifice your own mental health needs in the process?

We sat down with Cynthia Clinton, LPC, to discuss the importance of prioritizing self-care and maintaining work-life balance during the holiday season.

Healthcare Provider, Helping Professional…and Human Being, Too.

During your time in practice, you have probably worked with a client (or ten) who needed help coping with stress and anxiety, finance-related anxiety, seasonal depression and grief, or feelings of being overwhelmed. Think back on those sessions and try extending to yourself the same compassionate care and patience you provided each of those clients. Clinton recommends first returning to basic, tried-and-true self-care tactics:

  • Maintain (or increase!) healthy behaviors, like engaging in regular physical activity and eating a well-balanced diet. Physical and emotional health are inextricably linked, and many people are quick to discontinue exercise when life gets busier around the holidays. Mental health specialists are not immune from that tendency, she warns, especially when patient loads increase.
  • Specifically schedule time for yourself each day. Whether you use it for journaling, meditation, yoga, or simply peace and quiet, carve out at least 15 minutes a couple times per day to just “be,” without focusing on the needs and demands of patients, children, or bosses. “Give yourself permission to take a short break away from everyone else, even family, to re-center yourself,” Clinton recommends.
  • Set boundaries on your thoughts and leave work at work. Though easier said than done, particularly when a rough case tugs at your heartstrings, you “simply cannot solve everybody’s problems,” Clinton said. “Yes, people are hurting, and it can be hard to stave off your own guilt when you feel compelled to ‘do more.’ But leave those burdens at the office where they belong and be present for yourself and with your family. Only when you adequately care for yourself can you truly provide the best support for your clients.”
  • Use—and cherish— your support network…Stressful though it can be, try to take a step back and enjoy the holiday season for what it is: an opportunity to celebrate with those closest to you. Take time to go see Christmas lights with your children, attend a holiday event with the whole family, volunteer with your church, or plan a special outing with your significant other.
  • …and encourage clients to engage theirs, too. “There will be times when you cannot carry the load for a patient who relies on you as their only source of support,” Clinton said. “Encourage them to access some additional resources and activities to help them satisfy their needs without specifically relying on you for everything. This can be anything from community or religious groups to a new hobby or self-improvement goal, but get them plugged in to additional supports.”

On behalf of everyone here at Consilium, we would like to thank our partnering behavioral health professionals and wish you a wonderful and fulfilling holiday season. You provide necessary mental health care with each assignment you take on, and we are grateful that you trust us to connect you with the next great opportunity to make a difference.