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2020 Resolution: Work-Life Balance?

By Victoria D. Knoll, MD

On December 6, 2019, I received an email asking me to contribute to ASSH perspectives. The suggested writing prompt was, “What is something you’d like to see the hand surgery community achieve in 2020?”

Being the busiest month of the year, by the time I had read the email, I had missed the deadline to respond. I was told that if I had time, my contribution would be appreciated. I predict like most of us, I felt obligated to contribute but in the process add more to my already full plate. I had done, as I know many others in December, a record number of surgeries and every clinic was full. I had tried to make it to every soccer game (not even close), attend the orchestra and band concerts (kind of made those…more below), attend partners’ meeting (chose band concert), enjoy school parent holiday parties (did not make any), send out Christmas cards (success), decorate the house for Christmas (good enough), hide the elf everyday (did not succeed), get gifts (done at last minute), enjoy a carriage ride to see the Christmas lights (what was I thinking?), gingerbread/cookie decorating (unforgettable!), attend daughter’s ballet nutcracker performances (made 2 of 3), and relax and enjoy the holiday season (reflecting on that, I have not really done that since I started residency). My schedule is no different than any other surgeon’s, especially in December.  All my physician friends report the same.

I would like to see my physician friends and ASSH colleagues in 2020 achieve a good work-life balance. Is that even possible? One of my surgical colleagues loves the concept, but she is convinced it does not exist. She reports either work guilt or mom guilt and cannot win. Many other colleagues agree, it does not exist. Maybe one of you reading this has figured it out. If so, please share! Please contribute to ASSH Perspectives and share your recipe that I and others have not be able to perfect. 

I was able to write this while waiting at a Sprint store late after work for my 28-day-old iPhone 11 to get repaired. It shattered when I fell running four blocks trying desperately to make it after a 10-hour work day to my daughter’s band concert in which she was to play in a quartet for the opening song. I made it to the school with a lacerated bleeding thumb, a knee bleeding through my pants, palmar abrasions, and a shattered phone only to miss her performance by 5 minutes. My daughter said, “Mom, I am so sorry you fell, it was not that important.” To me, it was very important.

Both work and home life satisfaction are critical and when one suffers, the other suffers.  

Happy New Year to all of you and may you find that balance in 2020.

Victoria D. Knoll, M. D.

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