A job in healthcare technology management (HTM) is anything but “8 to 5.” You're committed to doing the best job possible—before, during, and after work. But you also need to “have a life,” and stay well, right?
In his book, “Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life,” author Stewart D. Friedman suggests that the work-life concept is actually “a misguided metaphor.”
“The idea that ‘work’ competes with ‘life’ ignores the more nuanced reality of our humanity,” writes Friedman, who is the practice professor of management at the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. “It ignores the fact that ‘life” is actually the intersection and interaction of the four domains of life: work or school; home, or family; community or society; and the private realm of mind, body, and spirit … Conflict and stress aren't inevitable. Harmony is possible.”
In pursuit of your own harmony, learn how your well-rounded peers have made peace with the 24/7 aspects of life in the faster lane and have used fitness to cope and thrive.
Make the Mind-Body Connection
Waking up and checking his e-mail at 3 a.m., then falling fast asleep again is nothing new for Tim Huffman, who is manager of biomedical engineering at Baylor Scott & White Health in Grapevine, TX. “I'm the watchdog,” he says. “I balance a reasonable workload, but there's no vacation.”
He reviews his values list every six months to ensure behavior remains consistent with his goals. For his body, he regularly does weightlifting and yoga, calling the latter “very therapeutic.” He's also committed to spending quality downtime with family and friends for support and fun.
Huffman aims to be a role model for his employees. “That seems to be working, since we have a low voluntary turnover,” he says. “I also want to exceed the expectations of my employer.”
When J. Michael Shepherd gets physical to alleviate the natural stresses of work and “to let off steam,” he does it with a mixed form of martial art called Lotus. A biomedical equipment technician II at Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande, OR, he values Lotus' multipurpose applications.
“Lotus helps me disconnect, keep fit, and strengthen both physical and mental discipline,” he says. He also likes to walk—either with or without his dogs—and remains a committed self-starter.
“All of this, away from work, helps me clear my mind and troubleshoot so I can calm down in a crisis when I need to.”
— Robin N. Faut, biomed/IT
“I use a resistance band and do push-ups and sit-ups,” Shepherd says. “I only do exercise I can do at home. Going to the gym has always felt depressingly like being on a hamster wheel.”
His commitment to fitness has paid off handsomely: Shepherd has lost 35 pounds.
For mind-sharpening, Shepherd studies other scientific disciplines such as biology, physics, and virology, and he stays on top of current news in those fields. “I like to expand my working knowledge, and lately that's been computer networking,” he adds.
Shepherd shares that “keep going and growing” philosophy with Robin N. Faut, biomed/IT at Cerner Connectivity in Olathe, MO. “The best HTM professionals continuously learn and do different things, many of which don't connect to work,” Faut says.
Diversity of knowledge creates a diversity of understanding.
He's mindful of the philosophies of the Tao Te Ching, a classic Chinese text of translated poetry. Its principles help him see things in the bigger picture, he says, citing a recent example.
“Just because you aren't getting a signal here, doesn't mean the problem isn't a server two buildings away,” he says. “In our jobs, we have to think about pneumatics, physiology, and hydraulics—beyond our training in electronics. Diversity of knowledge creates a diversity of understanding.”
An avid practitioner of Tai Chi, Faut calls it “meditation in motion.” It's a series of slow, focused movements accompanied by deep breathing. “Tai Chi helps me learn to do the contrary thing to what my natural instinct might be telling me to do,” he says.
He also does woodworking, motorcycle repair, and home beer brewing. “I just took a metal-working class,” he says. “All of this, away from work, helps me clear my mind and troubleshoot so I can calm down in a crisis when I need to.”
Run Toward a Balanced Life
Being on the run is a way of life for Michael J. Vohsen. This operations manager in clinical engineering service for SSM Health—Integrated Health Technologies in St. Charles, MO, runs marathons and half-marathons. He trains up to six times a week to help balance nine-hour workdays and de rigueur housework.
“When I run, everything just seems clearer,” he says. He often runs at 9 p.m. and absorbs the bounties of nature at night, another soothing experience. “I saw the full moon, and it illuminated a deer and a giant owl the other night.”
He's serious, and has done two Ragnar Relay Series runs—200 miles shared by teams of 12 competitors. Vohsen also did a Tough Mudder Competition, a 10–12-mile military-style obstacle course that meant navigating a polar plunge ice-water tank, massive climbing walls, and a field of live electrical wires.
Brains meet brawn with equal importance. Since becoming a manager, Vohsen has earned his bachelor's in business administration and is midway through his masters.
He's devoted to his two younger children, and to his church. “It's a big part of my life,” he says.
Although she wasn't “big into working out” earlier in her life, Sandra Calderon changed course. Now a BMET supervisor at INOVA Clinical Engineering in Falls Church, VA, Calderon noticed she was gradually gaining weight. She took charge of her appearance and her health—now she weighs less than in high school.
She joined INOVA's weight loss challenge and used the P90X extreme home fitness program, often working out 1.5 hours a day for six days in a row. Now she says she's sick less often, and like Vohsen, she does mud and obstacle races. At work, she walks up flights of stairs and encourages her colleagues to do the same.
“I pulled in my teammates,” she says. “I come to work a lot happier, more energetic, and with less stress. Working out together after real work creates good morale. It's fun, and it keeps us healthy.”
Don't Put It Off
What you do today for mind and body can only pay off later, says Frank Magnarelli, age 75, of St. Petersburg, FL. A retired biomedical engineering manager who also worked internationally, Magnarelli has a few “If I knew then, what I know now” points to share.
“No one ever told me that one of the most important things that I could do to prepare for retirement was to stay in good physical condition,” he says. “No one said that ‘It is of no value to be in sound financial condition if you can't get out and enjoy a great dinner in a new restaurant, climb a flight of stairs or enjoy a walk, or bicycle ride, or play a game of catch with your grandchildren.’”
“I pulled in my teammates. I come to work a lot happier, more energetic, and with less stress. Working out together after real work creates good morale. It's fun, and it keeps us healthy.”
— Sandra Calderon, BMET supervisor
Magnarelli started running in his late 30's, married another fitness buff, and the couple worked out together. “I still have a treadmill in my home office and a machine that allows me to maintain upper body strength,” he says.
His philosophy on aging actually also applies to work and life in general. “We cannot always control the inevitable ailments that confront us as we age, but there are many things we can do to prevent them or enable us to cope better with them.”
About the Author
Stephanie Stephens, MA, is a freelance writer, producer, and multimedia expert. E-mail: email@example.com