Written by: Dr. Michelle Chow
You’ve finally made it – after countless years of schooling and residency, you are finally practicing medicine. I remember the initial years as a staff physician being full of excitement and hope. I would start the day thinking about how lucky I was to be in my position. I was more than happy to take on more patients, book more clinics and take on more hospital shifts. However, now that I have moved beyond my first five years of practice, work has somewhat settled into a predictable routine. Some days, it may take more than just coffee for a “pick-me-up” or to stay engaged.
When we get to this state in our careers, how do we keep ourselves inspired? Or, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, how do we “spice” things up? Fortunately, with family medicine, there are numerous options:
- Learn something new — consider taking additional courses in areas that interest you and become a resource for your colleagues. Alternatively, you could pursue a formal Certificate of Added Competence (E.g., Sports and Exercise Medicine or Enhanced Surgical Skills).
- Mix up your work week — as family physicians, we have the benefit of being able to work in many different environments. This might mean the clinic, acute care, the hospital, the operating room, long-term care or virtual care. You could also pursue special interests such as Research, small procedures, or addiction medicine.
- Be an advocate — perhaps you have a passion for refugee health or want to improve access to primary care for your patients. Be a champion for their cause – you could volunteer for an organization, develop a social media presence or pursue a leadership position on a committee (your local Primary Care Network (PCN), or the ACFP, AMA, and CFPC are some examples).
- Innovate — there are always ways we could make our workdays run more smoothly or improve patient care. Think about quality improvement projects (bonus: you may also be meeting your PPIP requirements for the CPSA) or take a course on charting efficiently.
- Post visual reminders — occasionally, our patients may express their gratitude with a handwritten note or photos (this is quite common in maternity care). With their permission, you could consider displaying these for an instant pick-me up. You may also want to keep photos of your loved ones or favorite activities at work to remind yourself about what you are working for.
- Set goals outside of medicine — perhaps you have a personal fitness goal or a hobby that you love. Work towards achieving something outside of work. The more well-rounded we are, the better equipped we are to tackle our jobs.
- Take a break — sometimes we become less enthusiastic about work because we are burned out or stressed. Stepping away may be necessary to rest and recharge, to reevaluate our career or life goals, or to seek help or counseling. We owe it to ourselves to take time off for vacation or short breaks. In some cases, a sabbatical may be helpful.
Family medicine is a rewarding career in many ways, and we are fortunate to be able to help so many people in a variety of different ways. I hope some of these ideas resonate to help keep your passion strong for family medicine!
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