One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to take a proper vacation at least once a year. But as a busy physician, sometimes taking time off can feel harder than work. These physician vacation tips will help you check all the boxes and make sure you’re ready to relax. 

Practical vacation tips for physicians

Ideally, your vacation involves at least a few days of no work. But in our increasingly connected world, it’s harder than ever to be fully “off.” Many physicians on vacation work in the airport and spend a few hours catching up on charts from a hotel. 

Whether or not you plan to work, you’ll be more relaxed if you prepare to. Give yourself peace of mind knowing you’re prepared to take care of anything that might come up while you’re away. Delegate what you can, bring the tools to work remotely, and relax and enjoy the trip.

1. Set expectations with colleagues

Many families take a vacation over the summer, so you probably had to coordinate with your care team and office staff before planning time off. Start planning early to coordinate everyone’s schedules at the beginning of the year. One month before you leave, double-check that everyone knows when you’ll be away from the office. 

If you run a small practice and need temporary help, hire a locum tenens physician. Prepare onboarding resources so they know where everything is, who’s in charge of what at the office, and where to go if they need help. 

2. Update your voicemail and email auto-responders

Decide in advance how often you will check emails and other work messages. I know it’s tempting to keep up with emails while you’re away, but if possible, try to be entirely out of touch for at least a few days. Even if you’re not seeing patients, emails and charts keep your brain focused on work. A complete mental break will help you return more rejuvenated.

It just takes a moment to update your voicemail greeting and email auto-responders. But communicating when you’re away from the office and when you’ll be back will set expectations, so you don’t have to worry about it. 

3. Bring what you need to work

More likely than not, you’re planning on working during your vacation, even if only on travel days. And if you’re planning not to work, remember that even the best-laid plans don’t always pan out.

Bring the right tools to make remote work an option. Did you pack your laptop and tablet? Do you have a portable medical dictation solution? Check that you have the correct chargers, cases, and converters to make traveling smooth.

4. Test your hotspot and VPN

Did you know you can turn your smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot? Hotspotting is one of the easiest ways to get your laptop online from anywhere. Whether connecting to local Wi-Fi or using your phone as a hotspot, always use a VPN to keep your devices secure.

Before leaving, try joining your phone’s hotspot and activating your VPN. Log into your EMR to make sure everything works smoothly. Doing this will ensure you have time to troubleshoot before leaving if needed.

5. Charge your devices and battery backup

The latest portable battery charges make it easy to power your laptop or phone anywhere. Ensure you charge your devices before leaving and have a backup option in your luggage. 

6. Pack a Wi-Fi hotspot

If you’re going to a remote area, you may want to pack a separate Wi-Fi hotspot from a different cellular provider. Some places have limited coverage, but another carrier will often perform better. If you need to respond to an emergency, this could make all the difference. 

7. Enjoy your vacation!

You’ve planned carefully and checked all your boxes. The most overlooked of all vacation tips for physicians is to enjoy your time away from work. You work hard all year serving patients, and you deserve time to enjoy this experience. 

Bring a book, pack the swimsuit, and order a nice drink when you arrive. The effects of a truly relaxing vacation can last long past when you return. So wherever you go, relax and savor the experience.

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