When I started the balanced physician program in 2004, I did it with the goal in mind to help physicians have more work life balance. At that time I offered the program to the market place but it wasn’t ready for it except the physicians who felt burned out and had the strong motivation to restore their balance. However, everyone loved the term “balanced physician”. With the intent to keep the term balanced physician I looked at it from a new perspective which you can see here on the venn diagram.

When I speak about a balanced physician I look at it from the perspective of

  1. Skills as the outer game
  2. Awareness or way of being as the inner game

Let’s look at skills first.  A balanced physician is not a physician who only masters clinical skills but is an individual who has a balanced skill set of clinical skills combined with self-management and interpersonal skills which basically creates their emotional intelligence.

Research by the Carnegie Institute concluded that: “15% of success is technical skills – 85% is self management and people skills.” That doesn’t mean that physicians don’t need to focus on advancing their clinical skills but their clinical skills cannot be maximized without the proper self management and interpersonal skills.

Medical schools focus on teaching clinical skills and that this is all they can focus on. But that doesn’t mean it is enough to equip a medical student or resident to become a successful and balanced doctor. They also need excellent self-management and interpersonal skills. But none of these skills can be developed without awareness first. Therefore a balanced physician also have the awareness to recognize what is happening inside as well as in the environment in order to properly respond.

So let’s look at Emotional Intelligence. When you look at the studies of Emotional Intelligence, EQ is broken down into 5 measurable factors:

1. Self-awareness

2. Self-management

3. Social awareness

4. Social skills or interpersonal skills

5. Adaptability.

Again here we look at skills – the outer game – and awareness – the inner being plus the flexibility to adapt to situations.

Research has shown that IQ stops growing at the age of 20, EQ keeps increasing with age, and as long as we keep experiencing new emotions it keeps growing.

If we now take these three factors, we can show human potential as a very simple formula:

(IQ +TQ) x EQ = Human Potential

And when a physician combines their technical skills with their ever increasing emotional intelligence, they will be more successful, they have more harmony, and at the end they will feel more balanced.

And this is where we come to being a balanced physician.

So many times people think that work life balance is an end goal; it is something that we have. But you cannot have something such as balance if you are not being it first. Just like you cannot expect trust from patients if you are not trustworthy.

Same applies to balance. Balance is a state of mind and a state of emotional competence that leads to better choices and better processing of and response to circumstances.

So over the years my perspective of balance or work life balance has changed. Now I am defining it as an awareness, attitude and leadership towards life where you are constantlyexpanding your capacity to deal with everything that comes at you in a powerful way. It is not something that you only have but something that you live with awareness, attitude, leadership and personal development.

And so skills (the doing part) and mindset (the being part) go hand in hand in order to create the end result of living an optimal life filled with contentment, contribution, and performance.  And that is how I define a balanced physician.



Though the views expressed above are solely the writer’s, University of Maryland Emergency Medicine Network supports “The Dose with Dr. Goodhook” and is partnering with Adventures in Medicine to create an open, inspiring and insightful community for residents and physicians. Click here to learn more about ways that University of Maryland Emergency Medicine Network is making practice purposeful.

About the Author:  Iris Grimm is the creator of the Balanced Physician programs. She provides physicians a comprehensive support system to meet their unique work, life, and leadership challenges. For more information visit www.BalancedPhysician.com.