Teamwork and the Outdoors
By Kevin F. Lutsky, MD
Advice for raising a family amidst a career in hand surgery? I thought this would be an interesting topic and I was curious what advice others would give. So, I’m not sure that I’m qualified to give this advice (I was hoping to get it from others!) but as a parent of seemingly well-adjusted and (for now, and probably for another 2-3 years?) happy 10-year-old twins, maybe we are doing something close to right? Either way, here’s what I think:
- Have a partner and a plan. With the unpredictable nature of hand surgical practice, being on call, etc., it is very helpful to have somebody who can care for the kids when things run late, come up unexpectedly, or otherwise go sideways. This lets you concentrate on the task at hand (surgery) and know that your family will be taken care of. In my case, I am extremely fortunate to have a wife who does not work outside the home and this allows me to compartmentalize. But this can be a spouse, family member, close, friend, or other hired hand. You/I just need to be able to take care of work while at work and not be distracted with worry about caring for the family.
- Unplug and engage at home. This is hard. It’s easy for work, technology, and other distractions to bleed into home time. Thinking about your case from today, your patients who aren’t doing well, your case for tomorrow, answering emails, reading the news, checking social media, texting with friends – these can all be distractions from being present with your family. I try to set aside time for electronic distractions – usually in the morning and at night before bed. And the rest of the time I put my phone on the shelf, unplug and engage – reading with the kids, talking about their days, playing games, doing puzzles, playing with the dog or (see below) going outside.
- Stay active. We are an active family and enjoy climbing, mountain biking, skiing, hiking and just generally being outdoors. This allows us to check off many boxes at once – unplug, exercise, spend time together, breathe fresh air, build trust and communication (nothing does this like siblings belaying for each other!) and recharge. We all know the benefits of exercise, but when you can be active together it becomes much easier to fit physical activity into an already busy day.
Well, those are a few of my thoughts. I hope they help you to raise a great family though, to be honest and through no fault of my own, I think I’ve just gotten lucky.