Friday, November 16, 2012

5 Ways to Take a Vacation as a Solo-Practice Physician

A guest post from Software Advice

5 Ways to Take a Vacation as a Solo-Practice Physician
By Sarah A. Parker, Software Advice

There are many challenges that come with being a health care professional. However, there are a number of difficulties that come with running your own practice as a solo practice doctor: namely, managing a healthy work/life balance. For many physicians, the idea of a vacation is hard to imagine. Who will see patients? Who will manage the office?

But taking a vacation while operating your own practice can be done. Here are five ways to ensure that you are able to take a much-needed vacation without incident.

1. Walk Before You Run
If you’re starting a new solo practice, it will take a few years before you have enough breathing room to schedule a big trip. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t take a few days off here and there to keep your sanity (and health) in check. Start small by giving yourself Friday off every other week. Long weekends ensure an extra day of rest and don’t include the risk of losing patients.

2. Call in Reinforcements
You can call in a covering physician to see your patients the whole time you’re out. Or you can use them only in case of an emergency. The point is to leave the office without screening calls the entire vacation. Choose the option that works best for your particular practice, your patients and your personality.

3. Have Boundaries with Patients
If you don’t establish boundaries early on with your patients, you will never be able to fully escape the office. This rule varies depending on your medical speciality, as well as your personality. But be sure to inform your patients ahead of time that you will be out of the office and unavailable. People may have emergencies but you are of value to no one if you don’t allow yourself time away.

4. Plan for the Financial Impact
This can be a tough one but if you plan accordingly, the impact can be minimal. Because solo practice doctors only receive income when a patient is treated, these physicians should ensure that they can handle the financial burden of paying staff and continual practice expenses while on vacation. If you’re not able to foot the bill and take a longer trip at the same time, try taking a few longer weekends without spending much to establish savings necessary to take a longer trip.

5. Unplug Yourself
In 2012, it’s hard to disconnect yourself from the world in any profession. With patients relying on you for their health, this added stress makes it especially difficult for a physician to unplug. However, it’s important to consider your own health, as it will have a direct impact on your ability to help your patients. While on vacation, you should also establish how you can be reached and what responsibilities you will have while out of the office. Set guidelines for both your staff and patients, and emphasize that you should only be contacted in case of an absolute emergency