I’m sure I’m not the only oddball here who asks herself this question? This is the type of re-evaluation of my life that I do about every year. This is important. It is important for many reasons but two stand out.
1. I want to continue this dialogue with my inner self for the entire duration of my working life in order to know when something has lost its luster to me. That I know when to move on.
2. This helps me have perspective and be thankful for my workplace and work companions. Gratitude is a great way to reduce burnout.
In today’s rapidly “equally” evolving world with little concept of equity, a woman and a man may be working in the same workplace but may have completely different work lives. They may be bringing home the same paycheck but they may be putting in two entirely different numbers as weekly work hours. They may have the same designation as far as job responsibilities go, they may be making their work possible in two completely different ways. How? Let me explain my point. Men! Hold on tight! Haha!
Women, while working the same jobs that most men do, do carry a lot of domestic work, even at work. Your child sustains a minor bump at school? The nurse calls you. Why? You’re the listed first contact. Your house help needs to know where the dishwashing liquid is? She calls you. Why? Because you are in contact with her the most. Your kids’ tutor has to discuss curriculum for next year? He calls you. Why? Well, you get it. A woman is the point person for everyone, in many cases for her in-laws as well.
A man, on the other hand, has been delegated the task of being the hunter. So he’s hunting while at work. And can’t be bothered with mundane details of his children’s day, his parents’ medicines or his plumber’s phone calls regarding the pipe that’s leaking. He has already taken the responsibility of being the hunter and automatically expects the nester, his wife, to attend to all of the above and more. Much, much more. The wife, however, isn’t a traditional nester anymore, is she? For one thing, she isn’t sitting in the nest for the better part of the day. She is actually out hunting too and does a lot of remote nesting still.
I could recommend that we switch the long-standing societal roles that are unfair and unjust but that would just be saying it a thousandth time. I have however a little worry about the well-being of the woman in all of this.
A woman should be facilitated to care for her priorities. By declaring that she shouldn’t be responsible for all of it or her husband should be her support system or her family should chip in more doesn’t exonerate us from our role as a society in making it easy for her and her family. To say that she should be stronger in demanding fairness is stupid because feminism has taken decades to come this far. One woman can’t change her course in life by just blinking a few times or engaging in heated debates for a few minutes.
But is our workplace automatically responsible for our wellbeing? I’d say they are. But do all of us have a workplace that cares about our wellness? Probably not. Can we assess the support that our workplace extends to us by having a checklist of sorts? I can’t say it will work for all people but here’s how I assess, almost every year or two, when it’s time to renew my contract, if this is the place where I want to work for health, wealth and happiness.
First of all the work environment is crucial. How friendly are the people around me? Is there is a strong hierarchical pattern there? Is your supervisor or medical director someone who is more like a colleague than a boss? Is the word “boss” used for many people? Is your work micromanaged and closely monitored? Is help available? Is camaraderie easy to develop? Do people slowly evolve from work to family friends? Are there other people there with experiences similar to yours? If you have a choice, please see that the work environment is a soothing and relaxing one. Doctors spend a lot of their time at work with various situations of high adrenaline rushes. Seeing our colleagues shouldn’t be one of those situations.
Another thing that I particularly take into consideration is how open and receptive my workplace is to any particular needs that my family might have. If my family has any particular needs then I should be able to communicate those with people who make rules and policies. I know that not all rules can be changed for me but I should have some exceptions made to the type of schedule that would prevent burnout for me. We all know that managing a demanding work life (which physicians usually have) with an equally demanding home life can have effects on productivity, efficiency and quality of life. Taking care of our burn out and our quality of life is on both us and our employer. Be sure to communicate feelings of inadequacy, the feeling that you are easily replaceable, exhaustion and fatigue. In short, watch out for emotional and mental burnout.
And lastly, I want my workplace to recognize that I’m a woman with a slightly different work responsibility than a man. That my duties during the day and at night, while at work or at home, are very different from a man’s. That in order to be productive I will have to have a sustainable work environment with a sustainable schedule with particular attention towards my role as a nester and a hunter.