Flexible Working

I Could Not Value My Work Highly If I Did Not Have Time To Appreciate My Family

Dr Arzu Cubukcu
East Cheshire

My Consultant Cardiology career, spanning over two decades, has been an enjoyable one, with initially a wider spectrum of investigations and procedures; later more focused on cardiac imaging, replacing invasive angiography skill with computed tomography coronary angiography (CTCA), while cardiac ultrasound has remained one of the pillars of my skill set. Being based at a district general hospital (DGH), I have had the opportunity to observe the natural history of many conditions and reflect upon the medical decisions I have made over the years, now steadily transformed to shared decisions through multidisciplinary team (MDT) process. I even had some time for research which now and again comes to fruition, most recently with an EPSRC grant; ongoing interest in cardio-oncology; all exciting avenues.

I could not value my work highly if I did not have time to appreciate my family, develop some hobbies and remain fit (aside a few accidents). It has never been an easy ride, but ultimately part-time, or less than full-time work provided me with these opportunities. There have been moments, I am sure familiar to all, the challenges of serving two masters and pleasing none: feeling inadequate as a professional and as a parent. However, the scene is changing for the better for all, especially those who want to pursue other interests and maintain hands-on parenting. The work achieved and creativity demonstrated along the way are progressively more valued; productivity and efficiency gradually replace traditional over-valued shear “attendance”, or “working long hours” concepts. There is still some way to go yet.

An unexpected development in the pathway towards flexible working is related to the recent pandemic, a silver lining of this horror story. Medicine, like many other businesses explored remote working and progress has been made in alternative communication tools, patient pathways and patient empowerment/self-management. It is apparent that crowded clinic waiting rooms were not necessarily the best way to serve our patients and engage our workforce. Further incorporation of internet-based tools has offered a flexible and productive environment not only for patients, but also for the workforce and is particularly suitable for chronic disease management.

Although I enjoyed the “camaraderie” and long working hours in my earlier career, more versatile and adaptable work arrangements ultimately attract a better-quality workforce who also deliver their best and offer multi-dimensional perspectives. I feel privileged to achieve satisfaction – to a degree, never fully! – in my work; in my family that I am proud of. It is a pleasure to see my son grow to a confident young man, following the predominant family trade, engineering. “Work-life” balance flexibility has been one of the most important commodities for me on the way to pursue a wide range of interests, raise a family and remain a professional.

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