Leaving Work at the Clinic: Strategies to Separate Work and Life

If you’re struggling to separate your work and life domains, you’re not alone. Over three-quarters of surveyed veterinarians from a recent study by the AVMA Trust1 report feeling that work dominates their life. Finding strategies that improve the balance or integration between work and life is an essential tactic to improving equilibrium between the domains and finding satisfaction with both. Continue reading to learn the ways that veterinarians establish boundaries between work and life to maintain a healthy and fulfilling balance.

Achieving a satisfying integration between work and life domains is difficult for many professions, including veterinarians who often face work stressors such as challenging conversations with clients and physical and mental fatigue. Research from the AVMA Trust’s 2022 Trend Report reveals that these stressors, coupled with the tendency to work beyond regularly scheduled hours, has caused dissatisfaction with work-life integration among 43% of veterinarians, and particularly among those who say they very often work beyond regular hours. 

Recognizing dissatisfaction with your work-life integration is the first step to overcoming the strain of it. Once you recognize it, you can begin to develop a plan of action on how to achieve a balance in your life that works for you. 

Here’s what some of your colleagues had to say about the strategies they use to maintain a healthy work-life integration and overall satisfaction: 

“Set more boundaries. Learn to say ‘no’. Leave work at work.”

“You must prioritize yourself over anything else. If this means taking a vacation or sabbatical, cutting back hours, finding a new job, or changing fields, do it.”

“Get a therapist. Once every three months, take some time off. Put the phone down and breathe.”

“Do not have alerts of patients’ lab results or other work-related notifications on your phone.”

“Do not give your personal cell phone or email to clients.”

“Work for someone who supports your vision for family.”

“Create a ritual when leaving work (e.g., I only wear watches at work and never outside of work.)”

“If you need to block out time for a family event, do it. Those times are limited and pass quickly.”

1The AVMA Trust 2022 Trend Report: U.S. Veterinarians’ Work-Life Experience is based on a national survey conducted in fall 2021. N=2,553 Practicing Physicians. N=327 Retired Veterinarians. 95% confidence, ± 3% margin of error.