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Seven Key Power Principles for Women Physicians to Create Work-Life Integration

reflections on lifePower principles are basic life concepts that must first be recognized, then accepted as true, and finally internalized.  These 7 are necessary for  women physicians to gain the energy (i.e. power) needed to create the situation where work and life are not in constant conflict.  Instead, using these 7 principles, compartmentalization disappears into a unified woven fabric where many sized and colored threads create a harmonious whole.

Sound idealistic?  Even ridiculous?  Only if you don’t know the 7 important power principles for women physicians.  Consider these and then incorporate just a few of them into your internal compass.  You will stunned at the results.

  1. Accept the fact that women physicians are different.  We have bought into the idea that the male model is the standard, and so we immediately start at a disadvantage.  Time to reset the default; remodel the House of Medicine.
  2. Build flexibility, predictability and control into as much of your life as possible.  This triad of time management increases your energy because you are not worried about time constraints–a huge drain and source of unnecessary stress.
  3. Let go of your guilt.  Nothing saps us more of energy than guilt.  It is the ultimate and best reason for changelessness (Audre Lorde).  Be fully present in whatever you are doing.
  4. Don’t go it alone.  We are not super humans.  Women are community based and, in general, thrive on relationships and friendships.  Give help when you can and get help when you need it, which should be often.
  5. Show gratitude.  A great way to replenish your energy.  Gratitude for the people who have put their faith and trust in you.  Gratitude for the ability to do important work.  Gratitude for the privilege of being part of this profession.
  6. Act confident but also be nice.  Power differentials and gender politics are hard to reconcile.  This is most evident in our relationships with nurses.  This is a difficult tightrope to walk.  Find someone who does it well and ask them their secrets.  Each institution/organization will have a different culture which needs to be navigated.
  7. Be honest with yourselves and with others.  None of us is perfect.  Being a doctor is very stressful.  Feelings of anger, frustration, devaluation, and loneliness are not uncommon.  Our ability to perform at high levels, day in and day out, results in stress.  Face your feelings.  Fact your facts.  Don’t pretend they don’t exist.

To recap, we are different and to take on our many dual roles, we need flexibility, predictability and control of our schedules.  No room for guilt because we have needs. Engaging help will allow us to do more of what needs to be done.

Build up good feelings which give you good energy.  Gratitude is universally recognized as one of the best sources of energy, and we physicians have so much to be grateful for.  Confidence and being nice are difficult to pull off, but when learned, gives us incredible power to forge ahead.  And self-examination and honesty about the way we think and feel, take away burdens of the stereotypes that bind us into roles that don’t always fit.

Work-life integration may not be as hard as many think.  Adopt just a few of these power principles and you will be off to a good start.


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