Cross-training for work & life

Cross-training for work & life

Jul 01, 2006

TREADING WORK AND LIFE SUCCESSFULLY REQUIRES endurance and passion. In school, you developed as a person while you trained as a student. In the professional world, you'll continue to grow personally as you focus on progressing as a doctor, balancing your family, social, medical, managerial, and perhaps ownership interests and responsibilities. Cross-training for life and work will help you achieve balance and maintain the stability to take on new challenges and opportunities. A 2004 graduate, Dr. W. Andrew Rollo and 33-year veteran, Dr. Philip VanVranken, shared the strategies they use to achieve balance as part of a mentoring discussion they held over the course of a year. Here's how they play to their strengths and stretch to achieve more in the workplace and in life.

Playing by the clock

Dr. VanVranken: What are your week and weekend hours? Does your clinic do any emergency work. If so, how are you involved in that rotation? What hours would you work if you were king for a day?

Dr. Rollo: I work four days a week. Usually I do all surgeries on one of those days. This should be an eight-hour day, but it can creep up to 12. If an emergency comes in, then the day usually grows longer. There are no emergency hours at the hospital right now.

We've done 12-hour shifts for two months, and we're assessing this approach. When things are going well, the long hours certainly have rewards. But they're a work in progress, and we're tinkering with it as we go—we may taper them down a bit. Not surprisingly, every doctor has a different schedule that would be ideal for him or her.

If I were king for a day, I wouldn't start work until 10 a.m. This one may be a bit selfish—but I'm not a morning person. Of course, many clients wake in the morning to find their pets sick, and waiting until 10 wouldn't be acceptable in a good portion of those cases.

The best schedule for a hospital is what's best for its clientele. Since animals get sick all hours of the day, 24 hours would be ideal. That way there would be no transferring of animals to and from the emergency clinic, no "see if he's still vomiting in the morning" statements over the phone at 7 p.m., no more sleepless nights wondering how my hospitalized patients are doing. This is obviously not a reality for most practices, but something worth discussing at the very least.

What else do you do?
Dr. VanVranken: Twelve-hour days may have been common in school, but practice is intense. Twelve hours is a long time to juggle these kinds of tasks and responsibilities. I'd vote for eight-to nine-hour days.

The 10 a.m. start on a 12-hour day with a one-hour lunch would leave you with an 11 p.m. finish. So long reality TV!

My wife always said she wasn't a morning person. Then we had kids and that was the end of that. Then again, she'd say she wasn't a late-night girl either—she's never actually seen Jay Leno, except in pictures.

Dr. Rollo: My father has also told me that to become a morning person all I need to do is have a child. Despite my mother's wishes, that will have to wait for a while.