Work-life balance: You can do anything you want, but not everything

December 10, 2019

"If you’re already in training or are considering joining the field and think you will be able to be a full-time urologist, full-time father/mother, world-class athlete, and writer, and still spend 3 hours a day watching TV or hanging out with your buddies, you’re wrong," writes Henry Rosevear, MD.

Dr. Rosevear is a urologist in community practice in Colorado Springs, CO. Urology Times blogs present opinions, advice, and news from urologists and other urology professionals. Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Urology Times or its parent company, MJH Life Sciences.

I'm not the most confident person in the world; it's one of my many flaws. When I'm writing a blog, I often think about the people I may be offending. I think about the incredibly smart academic urologists out there who may take issue with my interpretation of the literature. I worry about the folks from industry when I take a swipe at the newest and latest technological fad in urology. I worry what my fellow private practice urologists think of how I practice medicine.

Today, though, I'm not worried about any of them; I'm worried about what my wife will think when she reads this.

I was recently asked to give a talk at the South Central Section of the AUA (Young Urologists Forum) about how I found my non-clinical niche in urology (ie, my writing for Urology Times). It was great. I love telling the story about how another small-town urologist helped me reach out to Urology Times and how the staff at the Times have been so patient and kind with me over the years. It's also great to have the chance to talk to other young urologists who are looking for opportunities in urology that are not necessarily clinical.

Also by Dr. Rosevear: Resident education studies reveal fascinating trends

I wasn't the only speaker. The forum was led by an academic urologist who happens to be an incredible triathlete and also included a very successful solo practice urologist (yes, they still exist and can thrive!) who is very active in social and online media. Everyone on the panel agreed that, for us, our non-clinical niches are what keeps us intellectually engaged in clinical urology and helps us fight the moral injury associated with modern clinical medicine.

What got my attention about the experience was not what I heard on stage (I already knew of other urologists with amazing stories to tell about work they do outside the clinic). Rather, what piqued my interest were the questions from the audience.

Every question involved the same theme: work/life balance. The audience members were clearly wrestling with the question of how to balance family life, social life, and clinical life and still have enough time to successfully develop a niche in urology.

All three of us on the panel were in complete agreement on the issue. You don’t.

Next:"I’m not saying that trying to have a fulfilling career and a thriving personal life isn’t a good goal; it’s just a goal that requires sacrifice."I’m not saying that trying to have a fulfilling career and a thriving personal life isn’t a good goal; it’s just a goal that requires sacrifice. Last I checked, there were only 24 hours in the day and at some point, you’re going to have to make choices about what to do with your time.

Therein lies my concern about my wife. In my very first blog, many years ago, I shared some financial advice from an old friend who said that as a urologist’s wife she could buy anything she wants; she just can’t buy everything she wants. The same can be said about any other activity. A person can do just about anything they want (some exceptions notwithstanding such as my ability to be a center in the NBA), if they are willing to make it a priority and sacrifice. Hence, for me, I make time to write.

I set my alarm and wake up at 3:30 to write every day. Do I love getting up early? No! But I've learned that my day is for my clinical practice, my evenings are spent with my wife and my children, and if I'm going to write, that is the only time to do it.

Read - Moral Injury: A better model for understanding burnout

But I've made sacrifices to do that. I don't exercise. I don't golf. I don't have other hobbies. I don’t stay up late watching TV with my wife. For me, and for my own sanity, I have made the decision that writing is important and in order to still practice medicine and have some time to see my children, I’ve eliminated just about everything else. I look forward to the alarm every morning knowing that I have a few hours to myself over a few cups of espresso to write and think. I pray that my wife doesn't mind.

Urology is an incredible field. We directly improve our patients’ quality of life. We are well compensated. We are in high demand. And we work hard. If you’re already in training or are considering joining the field and think you will be able to be a full-time urologist, full-time father/mother, world-class athlete, and writer, and still spend 3 hours a day watching TV or hanging out with your buddies, you’re wrong.

You are going to have to define for yourself what is important and what is not and find a balance that works for you. You can do anything you want to do, but you can't do everything.

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