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Work-life balance has been an increasing priority for young physicians for decades now. The current generation is ever more intentional about their life ambitions and less willing to make certain lifestyle sacrifices that physicians past took for granted. During times of stress, whether it is at home or in the workplace, balance is required for longevity of psychosocial well-being. Having health-conscious physicians that exercise self-care is good for their families, their patients, and our country.
We’re seeing the physicians themselves forced to demand personal development because the health care marketplace-influenced educational institutions are certainly not doing it for them. Perhaps it is not the responsibility of the medical establishment to teach self-care to physicians, but encouraging it would be a start.
With so much emphasis on turning out “lifelong learners”, medical schools produce physicians that understand the dynamic nature of medical information and the need for independent investigative knowledge of evidence-based medicine (EBM). Medical residents often don’t practice EMB research, but that is likely due to the incessant demands on them, the eustress-distress continuum’s pressure, and the distraction of survival instincts such as financial hardship and sleep deprivation.
The good news is that young physicians do ultimately gain a measure of success in becoming independent learners, the over-arching goal of higher education. This is the beginning of self-initiated professional development. Other forms of professional development derive from external pressures, which is important for motivation and long-term memory.
Once the physician-in-training navigates the formal educational system, regardless of the level of material success, the principles of lifelong learning, professionalism, and ethical soundness emerge.
Personal Development: Eustress, distress, and burnout are a continuum. During the maturation of the young physician, priorities reemerge (4.3), emotions are labeled, human suffering is intimately understood and the beginnings of professional development appear.
Professional Development (4): Though effective models of teaching and assessing professionalism exist, budding physicians often fend for themselves to navigate issues of integrity and ethical pragmatism.