By Hilary Long, PA-C

As medical providers, the start of the new year is a great opportunity to remind ourselves to be more present in our own daily lives. Here are seven resolutions to take on in 2019 to improve our provider experiences:

Resolve to seek a work-life balance

This is often easier said than done. A career in medicine is demanding. Constant stress can dull the immune system and quickly make you exhausted and burned out. Finding a balance can improve your own health and well-being, increase your productivity at work and make work more enjoyable. So, how do we accomplish this balance? Take a day off when you need one, on your terms. If you feel tired or sick, get some sleep. Listen to your own needs. If you’re beginning to dread going to work, take a step back to evaluate your situation… maybe it’s time for a new position? Block time during your day for you to accomplish goals that have nothing to do with work. Take family vacations, go out to dinner. Don’t sacrifice your own needs for the sake of your career.

Resolve to increase patient satisfaction by improving communication

Improvement in the way we communicate with our patients can improve patient safety and satisfaction and can unite your team. Try using open ended questions so that patients can reflect on their symptoms. Read into the non-verbal communication that your patients are providing. Providers that can show their attentiveness in this way have been shown to have higher patient satisfaction. Understand your patient’s literacy and speak on a level that is clear to them. Having patients explain the plan to you may increase their adherence. Ensure that patients understand their instructions. Take constructive criticism and be empathetic. Every day provides opportunity to improve ourselves.

Resolve to invest in time to explain the importance of preventive medicine

According to Population Health Management in a paper entitled: “The Impact of Personalized Preventive Care on Health Care Quality, Utilization and Expenditures:”

“Spending more time with patients and physician counseling on behaviors have been associated with higher trust among patients. In turn, trust in one’s physician has been linked to improvements in many factors, including patient-physician communications, satisfaction with health care, compliance with medical protocols, and continuity of care. Strengthening patient-physician relationships may be an important strategy to enhance patient engagement and motivation to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors. Managing lifestyle health risks remains especially important to patients in midlife and as they age to delay the onset of disease and disability and to facilitate the management of existing chronic conditions.”

Resolve to use technology to help with the routine

The healthcare industry collects and stores massive amounts of data. Experts have shown that the use of technology can: reduce healthcare costs, predict epidemics, avoid preventable deaths, improve quality of life, reduce healthcare wastage, improve efficiency and quality of care and develop new medications and treatments. It seems safe to say that the use of technology in our field is a must.

Resolve to make your health a priority

According to the AMA: “When physician health or wellness is compromised, so may the safety and effectiveness of the medical care provided. To preserve the quality of their performance, physicians have a responsibility to maintain their health and wellness, broadly construed as preventing or treating acute or chronic diseases, including mental illness, disabilities, and occupational stress.” They further state that to do so a provider must follow healthy lifestyle habits, have their own personal physician that is objective and seeking help when needed.

Resolve to enjoy your work again

It is easy to collect things about medicine that are less than enjoyable. Seeing negative outcomes and traumatic situations can change our own outlooks and can bias us. Learning to enjoy your work goes hand in hand with having a great work-life balance and making you a healthy, happy individual.

Resolve to read more

Read for fun. Read more medical journals. Read to your children. Just read. Not only does it increase your intelligence, but it also acts as a brain work out and can decrease mental decline in the aging brain. Avid readers are less likely to develop signs of Alzheimer’s. It can make you more empathetic and help you to relax. Most importantly, you set a good example for little minds around you. Children whose parents read to them are more likely to read for fun as they grow.