If you’re reading this, you may be a new grad or perhaps a student finishing up your degree. There is anticipation, anxiety, and perhaps an inkling of imposter syndrome. You might be studying for boards, trying to get your first job or figuring out how to navigate your first job. Throughout this process, you may be overwhelmed, you may question things, you may over stress and therefore devote all of your time to work, to being a PT, a clinician.
Many talk about burnout and self care but often something that is lacking in the discussion is finding a work life balance. To some, this doesn’t exist because their work is their life – and hey, if that’s what you want, go for it. For me, that’s a one way ticket to self destruction.
Most of us, if not all of us, can say that we went into healthcare, more specifically physical therapy, to help others achieve their functional goals, live their best lives. How can you take care of your patients if you don’t take care of yourself first?
You enter the workforce and BAM, you are overwhelmed by a new EMR system, a new environment, some good and some not so good co-workers and management, maybe you have a long commute or had to move. You’re busy getting acclimated, trying to keep your head above water with all of these changes.
You have a full caseload, some patients where you’re unsure how you can help them. After a 10 hour day, you’re wiped out, you can’t think, you just want to take a hot shower, throw on some netflix or pick up a book and relax.
As a new PT, I wish someone told me this, so I’m excited to share these tips for achieving a work life balance with you:
- If you’re a new grad – worry about being successful at work first by recovering from the strenuous academia you just put yourself through.
- Don’t be afraid to not know something, ask a lot of questions. Keep asking questions until you actually understand and THEN go build on that knowledge as time progresses. There is no huge rush.
- Find what you love and run with it. If you’re able to listen to a new podcast, read journals and study after work every night, go ahead. If you need to take a few nights off to relax and netflix, go ahead. If you want to start a side hustle that has to do everything or nothing with PT, go ahead.
- Dedicate time each week to spend with family and friends. Building it into your weekly schedule will help make sure it happens.
- Devote time to your hobbies.
- Do not let anyone pressure you that you need to come out as a new grad learning everything, studying all the time, taking all of these continuing education courses.
- If your passion is to be the absolute best, you will find your way. The hustle, the drive you have will come out. If your passion lies elsewhere, that’s okay, you will find your way too.
- Don’t get caught in the trap of connecting your whole identity to your profession – you are James Briggs the person; not James Briggs the Physical Therapist.
Finding a work life balance that works for YOU is encouraged. If you want to be good at your craft, let alone master it, it’s going to take a large commitment outside of work to get better. Invest your time wisely as no matter how many resources you consume, know that you will also improve your craft with time.