Work Life Balance as an Orthopaedic Surgeon, Part 1

work life balance

A positive work-life balance is something every working mom should strive for.

work life balance

I recently gave a lecture and demonstration for the Perry Initiative, which encourages high school and college students to explore the field of orthopaedic surgery and biomedical engineering. My lecture was on Work Life Balance, good choice as I do have four children and work full-time (sometimes more than full-time) as an orthopaedic surgeon.

In typical US Magazine fashion, I put up a slide on “What’s In My Bag?”. This included: a toddler Touch and Feel Tractor book, my Moleskin journal to scribe notes from meetings, diapers, multiple thumb drives for all of my talks, a laser pointer, a large folder with interesting orthopaedic imaging, multiple TO DO lists, a HotWheels car, A National Geographic on The Science of Your Brain, an iPhone, a Sports Medicine Journal and some surgical skin glue for those playground emergencies…oh and a granola bar and goldfish crackers.   That pretty much sums up the dichotomy of my life.

READ MORE:How to De-Stress at work

I talked to them about my field of Orthopaedic Surgery and how it has many different options as careers from trauma, hand, spine, and pediatrics, to my field of sports medicine. One of the reasons I chose Orthopaedic Surgery was that I observed most “orthopods” were happy. Although there were times when they/we worked 100 hours per week, everyone was smiling the next day and sharing their happy patient stories and beautiful XRs of shattered bones built beautifully back together. I also spoke about the opportunity to work with sports teams, which I find to be very satisfying as I love my work with US Lacrosse, Yale Athletics, Women’s Tennis Association and other college and high school teams. I take great satisfaction in getting a player back to the field, pool, court, arena, lake…etc.

A couple of my talking points were to:

-Be in the Moment (whether it’s fixing an ACL or building a snowman)

-Decide What’s Important for You

-Stay Organized (love TO DO lists…my husband, well…maybe does not always love MY TO DO lists)

-Combine Work and Family (my family enjoys going to all the above sports events, fortunately!)


-Do Something You Love to Do

I am starting to learn now, after having four children, that it is also important to take care of yourself, too. At times many of these aspects are missed, but I try to feed myself before I walk out of the door (a fruit, water, and protein shake at least), find ways to exercise (7:30 am running with my sons on the scooters to drop them off at school or chasing tennis balls hit randomly by my 3, 4, and 5 year olds), making time to go out to dinner with my husband, and I have now (as you can read by prior blogs) incorporated the art of meditation.

I ended with two great quotes:

-“Crystallize your goals. Make a plan for achieving them and set yourself a deadling. Then with supreme confidence, determination and disregard for obstacles and other people’s criticism, carry out your plan.”

-“The difference between dreams and success is, dreams need effortless sleep and success needs sleepless efforts.”

I had a wonderful time speaking to the future surgeons of the world and enjoy the opportunity to reflect on my own imbalances as well.

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Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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