How important is it for your to take a vacation away from the office?

February 1, 2009

I'm a member of a multi-specialty group, and we have about 18 to 20 days for vacation. I try to use it all because I do feel it's important to take time off.

Most important is the family time. My idea of a good time is to spend time with my wife and kids, ages 15, 13, and 11, whether it's at home, on a little trip, or taking 2 weeks to drive back to the East Coast for a family reunion every couple of years. I think of [our children] as little kids, but they're teenagers, and I'm realizing that once that time is gone, you can't get it back. So it is important to get time with them away from work.

Sometimes I feel guilty taking time off because I question how I'll get everything done, but I like to think patients benefit from me getting time away, too. Not that I'm in a better mood [when I return], but after a few months of straight-through work, I'm sure there can be a little difference in personality. I like to think that I'm a better doctor if I have time away."

"It's pretty important for me to get away once in a while. I have a wife and three kids, ages 6, 4, and 2, and we try to do fun things with them. I'm in a solo practice and it's pretty hectic: a lot of decisions to be made all the time. You just have to get away once in awhile.

We usually take 2 or 3 weeks a year when we shut down the office for a week or two. Once in a while, we do little weekend trips. We've gone on a couple of cruises, we've gone to Disney World, and on a cruise with the kids. We're planning on taking vacation again this year, but we're not sure where yet."

Christopher T. Buchanan, MD
Granville, TX

"Vacation time is very important. I don't get very much of it, but you need a fresh perspective and some rest. Too often, the grind of what we do, day in and day out, is very trying emotionally, physically, and mentally. Everyone needs to get away and clear their head and do something that is not work related. The only way we can really do that is with vacations because physicians are compelled to answer the phone or help out, and if you're nearby, the next thing you know, you're back at work.

The amount of time I take varies, but is usually about 2 weeks. There aren't many urologists here at my hospital, so it's an issue of timing. Fortunately, I work where I grew up, so I don't have to go away to visit family.

It would be very good if you could take off some amount of time every 3 or 4 months, maybe not a whole week, but you need a little downtime.

I tend to combine vacations with conferences, which is good for the family, but not for me. I feel compelled to see everything at the meeting. I can go anywhere as long as it's not here. We went to Disney World, and I thought it wouldn't be relaxing for me, but it was."

Philip J. Proctor, MD
Washington

"It's extremely important. Like a lot of people, I would like to have a life outside of my profession. I don't have any grand plans yet. Over the course of the year, I probably will take 3 to 4 weeks' vacation. It will be mixed: some time at home and some time away.

It does help renew you for coming back to work. I have to do it."

William Allen, MD
Atlanta