Research Topic

Work-life balance: essential or ephemeral?

About this Research Topic

Professionals in academic medicine commonly believe that achieving a work-life balance is an integral part of the recipe for success. In a recent Opinion Article published in Frontiers in Pediatrics in 2014 titled “The fallacy of chasing after work-life balance”, I challenged this paradigm proposing that ...

Professionals in academic medicine commonly believe that achieving a work-life balance is an integral part of the recipe for success. In a recent Opinion Article published in Frontiers in Pediatrics in 2014 titled “The fallacy of chasing after work-life balance”, I challenged this paradigm proposing that creating a dichotomy between work and life leads us down a self-destructive path filled with frustration and disappointment towards both our work and our lives. In contrast, integration rather separation of the time we spend at work and the time we spend with life, creates a positive and constructive attitude towards both of these entities.

My article presented the perspective of a young clinician-scientist who is trying to stay afloat between the responsibilities of attending in the pediatric ICU and running a basic science research lab. The relentless challenge of the work-life paradigm portrayed in this article has received, to date, an astonishing 3839 views and is the 8th highest scoring article ever published in Frontiers in Pediatrics. My provocative point of view sparked remarkable interest and stirred up an overwhelming plethora of emotions in MDs, PhDs and DOs alike, including students, residents, fellows and faculty from all flavors of medicine and from opposite spectra of career and life stages.

In this proposal for a Frontiers Research Topic my co-editors and I would like to expand the discussion of the controversial and potentially fatally flawed concept of work-life balance in academic medicine to a much larger audience than the originally targeted pediatric clinician-scientists, and engage both professionals and trainees from all fields of academic medicine and all career stages in a productive, interdisciplinary dialog. We believe that the interactive, online platform of a Frontiers Research Topic is the ideal venue to exchange ideas, suggestions, comments and concerns, and reveal the truths and myths of work-life balance in our modern society. The outcome of this discussion forum could lead to substantial revisions of what we teach in our faculty development and career development classes throughout the country, or project to our children and family members. These discussions may leave a permanent imprint in what we believe is the key to happiness and success in modern academic medicine, while addressing the frustrations underlying widely prevalent problems like burnout, physician suicide, substance abuse, and others that plague modern medicine. Such problems may even have parallels in other highly competitive, intense professional fields.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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