5 Effective Tips to Overcome the Challenges of Being a Doctor-Parent

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Information for Doctors

4 min read

Key Takeaways

Being a part of the medical profession can be quite hectic and if one is a parent as well, it gets even more challenging. The most important task lies in learning how to compartmentalize professional and personal priorities. A doctor’s life revolves around irregular schedules, inadequate sleeping patterns, and a burst of positive and negative emotions. Such is also the life of a parent, and if one is donning both hats, it can be daunting.

Being a parent and a doctor requires a great deal of patience and, most importantly, a proper support system to handle both these responsibilities. Here are the most common challenges faced by a doctor-parent and a few tips on how to overcome them.

Learning to let go of things one can’t control

It is quite common for doctors to have high expectations of themselves. However, not everything will go one’s way. If certain things don’t work out perfectly, it is important to hold it together and maintain sanity. To address this issue, it is very important to prioritize. Knowing the hierarchy of importance and deciding on which task needs to be attended to first helps in striking a good balance between personal and professional life. The key point to understand here is to let go of things that cannot be controlled. This way, missing your child’s dance performance at school due to an important surgery won’t trigger misplaced guilt or stress. The best way to go about allocation of responsibilities to ask for help from your family members when required. [1]

Not obsessing about childrens’ health

Sometimes doctor-parents may worry obsessively about their child’s health, no matter how trivial the issue may be. What may be a common cold may force them to check for symptoms of influenza. This is normal as doctors know the complex workings of the human body and may overinflate a simple health risk or complication. Stop yourself from becoming a helicopter parent and resist the temptation to go overboard. Trusting one’s instincts and being just a little detached is an effective way to not allow your judgement to get clouded. [2] Doctors should avoid diagnosing kids’ health issues themselves and instead refer to trusted peers.

Avoiding being aloof and suppressing emotions

It is natural to feel stressed owing to long working hours. The added responsibility of household chores and attending to kids can become overwhelming, be it for female or male doctors. As a result, doctors may tend to become irritable and stay aloof. Suppressing emotions, however, is not the way to cope. The ideal solution to achieving a work-life balance is to set up small, realistic goals that are doable rather than trying to do it all and failing or not spending time with kids at all. For example, if picking up kids from school isn’t possible, doctors may tweak their schedule by dropping kids in the morning. This allows doctors to maintain an equilibrium.


Being honest about the demands of the profession

Indian doctors have long working hours and are usually overburdened, overworked and understaffed. As per the Indian Medial Association, during the pandemic in 2020, doctors often worked for 48 hours at a single stretch, contributing to the phenomena of early burnout. [3] The numbers clearly demonstrate that doctors’ family time is often compromised. It is important for doctors to realize that they aren’t alone in their journey and that their chosen profession is a demanding one. As such, letting go of any feelings of guilt for not being around for their children is a priority. Doctors can have conversations with their kids about missing out on important events while trying to schedule family time when possible.

Building friendships among a peer network of doctor-parents

Connecting with like-minded friends within medical community can relieve a great amount of stress due to shared experiences. Their valuable insights on how to juggle between the roles of a parent and doctor can offer actionable ideas too. However, it is not only to get suggestions that it is important for doctors to maintain friendships with peers. This also helps in boosting happiness, reducing anxiety and coping with personal and professional traumas better.

While these tips can help doctors manage their professional and personal life more effectively, the essential thing to remember is not being too hard on oneself. By having honest conversations with their children, doctors can overcome the numerous challenges that come their way. Effective time management and a strong support system are crucial in managing both roles of being a parent and a doctor.

Published on 22 Mar 2022Last updated on 4 Jan 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


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