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How to Balance Relationships Outside of Medicine

Living and working in medicine can undoubtedly be consuming, but we can choose how much we let it consume us. Yes, we have a choice!

Whether you have already figured this out or it still escapes your grasp to your endless frustration, I want to share a few more tips to help you balance your relationships outside of medicine.

Keep 3 to 5 human beings in your “inner circle.”

I just finished my psychiatry rotation where I learned from behavioral therapists some life-changing concepts that I ran home to apply to my own life. One concept that stuck out with me was our “inner circle.” We all have one, filled with a few people in our life that we feel the most comfortable letting into our best, our heaviest, our darkest and our most beautiful moments in life. What is important, however, is that we have more than one of those people. It is okay to need others, it is almost required if only to stay sane, but it is not fair to have only one person whom we unload all of our joys and stresses of life onto. Very often that one person is a significant other or a family member, but take this time to sit down and name a few more people you would call “my person” (channeling Meredith & Cristina here). Who are your 3-5 human beings who are so lucky to walk this life with you? Are you in anyone else’s inner circle? Hold onto them close, you’ll need them.

Don’t stop reaching out.

This one goes hand-in-hand with Tip #1. I am guilty of this myself and have heard this countless times from my classmates in PA school: “I just don’t have time to reach out.” But isolating ourselves and not allowing ourselves to slow down on this one-track race will trigger burn-out. Building a career in medicine can seem like climbing a series of small (okay, big) mountains that need our undivided attention, lest we look away for a second and lose our footing. Without support, however, we will never get there. And even if we do, who will we celebrate with? So on your way home, call your mom or dad. Or schedule a 15-minute coffee break with your coworker or classmate that you’ve been wanting to get to know better. Pick one day a week or month for date night with your significant other. Your happy heart will thank yourself and you will be in a better mental state to tackle the next small mountain ahead.

Look ahead to your days off and plan trips, whether big or small!

Whether it is a staycation or a weekend trip to your parents or a European adventure on Spring Break, put something on your calendar! I am not exaggerating when dangling such a sweet reward in front of you will make you feel like you can survive anything. In PA school, I have definitely appreciated the spring and winter breaks since we go straight through summer. From a four-hour drive back to DC (home for me!) to a week-long escapade in Switzerland (our dreamy honeymoon destination), every trip was a chance for me to rejuvenate before heading back to tackle the next staggering weight of medical knowledge thrown at us. Unlike what you’ve heard, life does not have to “stop” when you are in PA school, Med school, or climbing the medical career ladder. Take time to enjoy it!

So there you have it. I hope you find these tips useful enough to add to your own ‘medicine cabinet,’ and can take them out to use when you are ever feeling that you have to choose between your relationships or medicine. You can choose them both!

About the author:

Dominique PA-S  is finishing her clinical year in PA school in Pennsylvania, spending her free time with family and traveling with her husband. She’s learning that balancing life in medicine is a life-long journey that requires both grit and grace.” Follow Dominique on Instagram!