The Fallacy of Chasing after Work-Life Balance

  • Schwingshackl A
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“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.” — Alain de Botton As a pediatric intensivist and clinician-scientist, finding a balance between work and life is essential to my professional success and my personal happiness. Failure to achieve a healthy balance will result in burn-out. So I was warned all these years since the first day of medical school. In 2013, 180 articles documented that physicians are highly dissatisfied with their jobs. This is a testament to how poorly we are balancing work and life (1–4). Interestingly, to my best knowledge, to date only 12 articles have been published specifically addressing work-life balance in Pediatrics (5–16). Since entering medical school over two decades ago, I reached the conclusion that the concept of work-life balance acts as quicksand in our professional and personal lives resulting in slow drowning in frustration, depression, and exhaustion. The harder we fight the deeper and quicker we sink. Why are we taught to strive for work-life balance in the first place? The entire future of our modern “24/7” society appears to revolve around mastering this concept, with the ultimate promise that – once achieved – we will all be compensated for the misery and sacrifices that we endured along the way. Astoundingly, a recent study reported an almost 20% higher job dissatisfaction rate for physicians than for the general US population (17).




Schwingshackl, A. (2014). The Fallacy of Chasing after Work-Life Balance. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 2.

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