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Joyce Tang, MD, MPH, (Hospital Medicine)

The Balancing Act: Comprehensive Care Physician, Mother, Dual Physician Household…

Professional Accomplishments
Dr. Joyce Tang is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Section of Hospital Medicine whose clinical work as a Comprehensive Care Physician focuses on caring for patients with complex psychosocial needs who are at high risk of hospitalization. She leads patient engagement and qualitative research efforts related to the Comprehensive Care Program. She developed and leads the Patient-Centered Longitudinal Experience, an elective track within the Longitudinal Program, which pairs preclinical medical students with patient partners to experience illness and health care from patients’ perspectives and help co-navigate patients’ healthcare experiences.

Work-Life Balance
As a physician, mother of two (ages 8 and 11), and partner to a fellow physician, juggling work and home has always required a carefully crafted schedule and set of supports. My husband Mike and I chose to live in the South Loop to limit our commuting time to work and to be in close proximity to my family. Mike and I alternate service blocks and split cooking responsibilities. We’ve been fortunate to have had wonderful nannies for our children over the years.
As for so many others, COVID up-ended many of our traditional routines with work and at home. Our kids were no longer at school during the day. For Mike, who is an infectious disease physician and associate hospital epidemiologist at Rush, his work became all-encompassing. Our family support network became more complicated as we struggled with questions about how to keep everyone safe. But we have been fortunate in many ways, and over the past 6 months, we have been working toward balancing a new chaotic — but joyful — normal. Our nanny was able to flex up to full time in the spring, and when she delivered a healthy baby girl in the summer, we were lucky to find a new, wonderful, full time nanny. I bring the kids out on an after-dinner walk every day; most weekends, we also build in family time outdoors biking, hiking, playing tennis, shooting hoops, or any other way. After many months of relative sheltering for our kids, we cautiously opened our bubble a bit and partnered with other parents to have small weekly social/exercise pods for our kids (with masks, and outdoors). We have also enjoyed some bonfire get-togethers on our driveway with our extended family. However, as rates of COVID rise again, we’ve had to recalibrate, and have made the difficult decision to pause on these gatherings again for now.

Advice to Women Faculty and Trainees:

Keep a meticulous calendar and tend to it often
Mike and I send each other calendar invites for service times, kids’ appointments and school vacations to keep us both on track. I write into my schedule time to work on specific projects to make sure deadlines are met.

Build in time for what you love (not just after your kids go to bed)…and sometimes your kids will start to love those things too
Being outdoors feeds my soul. I used to try to fit in jogs and walks before the kids were up but getting up that early was exhausting. Now my morning jogs and evening walks are almost always accompanied by my kids.

Integrate mindfulness into your day
Life can be stressful and chaotic. Taking the time to clear your head and be in the moment is important and centering. I try to meditate for 5-10 minutes every day with the HeadSpace App. My kids even ask for it when they feel stressed, which is a bonus!

Remember the bright spots
Progress in primary care is incremental. Reflecting on the bright spots can be helpful during harder times. I keep a file of positive comments shared by patients and colleagues to help remember these moments.