A healthy work-life balance is key to a high quality of living. Dr. Justine Lee of VETgirl gives some tips on how to give the right amount of attention to your family, your job, and yourself.
Dr. Justine Lee is a double board-certified emergency critical care specialist and toxicologist, CEO and founder of VETgirl, a nationally renowned speaker, and a wife and mother. She understands that being a working mom or dad can be tough, so she emphasizes that making sure you have a healthy work-life balance is important in living a full, satisfying life.
People in the veterinary profession frequently talk about quality of life for their patients, yet perhaps they don’t talk about quality of life for themselves as much as they should. Dr. Lee talks to a fellow veterinarian and mom, Dr. Natalie Marks, in a Quick Cup of Knowledge called “Work/Life Balance” about the advice she would give others who also find that balance difficult.
Dr. Lee says that figuring out how to maintain a proper balance between work and other interests is essentially how the idea for VETgirl started. While studying for her boards, Dr. Lee remembers not being able to study or read an article while walking her dog or going on a run because the technology wasn’t available and the platform didn’t exist.
In addition to finding ways to stay professionally current and mentally stimulated, she mentions a few things veterinary professionals could do to have a healthier work-life balance.
Let It Go
You sang it, didn’t you? To “let it go” is the advice Dr. Lee values the most because she feels that many people in the veterinary field are perfectionists, or Type A personalities who don’t want to leave the hospital or clinic until everything is done perfectly.
Dr. Lee admits to being one of those people, and says that makes being more efficient sometimes hard to do. However, “the more efficient you can be as a vet,” she says, “the more quality life you have.” Staying hours after your shift at the hospital to cross every t and dot every i won’t give you a healthy work-home balance because you won’t get to put your kids to bed or spend that quality time with your partner.
Even if you don’t have kids, Lee makes sure to mention, it is so important to cultivate and maintain special relationships outside of work. “The sooner you learn to let go, the sooner you learn not to beat yourself up, the better your quality of life.”
As moms, Dr. Lee and Dr. Marks both related to feeling isolated sometimes. Get creative in your ways of finding friends, arranging playdates for your kids, and getting out of the house. This can combat that feeling of isolation.
One thing Dr. Lee recommends is support groups like the DVMom Facebook group. It’s a space where everyone is supportive of each other, and working moms can build connections with others in a similar situation.
Quality Time—For Them and You
Time to Parent, by Julie Morgenstern, is a book that Dr. Lee found very useful as well. She says it helped her value and think differently about the quality time she spends with her son. This will perhaps motivate you, as it did Dr. Lee, to be more efficient in the workplace to spend more time at home.
This book also teaches that getting enough sleep, love, and fitness for yourself is essential in finding the right balance between everything going on in your life. Focusing on those things make a difference at work and at home.
Be Supportive of Others
But what about how to keep that balance in the workplace? That’s where you spend a lot of time, after all.
Dr. Lee’s last piece of advice is to be supportive of all your teammates. When parents have to be somewhere for their child or when parents call in sick, being a good team player and helping them out at work (and having that help when you need it as well) is the most important thing.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance will be different for everyone, but even for Dr. Lee who has so much on her plate—it can be done. It will raise your quality of life and benefit everyone around you.
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