Last week in Boston, I attended a professional advancement session at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research conference. Judy Garber, M.D., M.P.H., current president of the AACR, addressed the young research investigators and trainees in attendance and shared some advice on work-life balance.
Dr. Garber illustrated the example of making difficult decisions between professional and personal responsibilities. She was, in fact, missing her daughter’s rowing event on the Charles River at the very moment she was standing in front of us at the podium.
Later that day, I googled Dr. Garber and decided that she must certainly have made and probably continues to make many tough decisions for work-life balance, seeing as how she currently holds several professional positions (director of the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and an associate physician of medicine and attending physician of medical service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital).
Dr. Garber gave us a list of suggestions for work-life balance:
1. Set priorities
2. Learn to be organized and efficient
3. Learn to say “No”
4. Remember that time is not infinite, no matter how much you would like it to be
5. Take responsibility for your choices
6. Find the right partner
7. Find good role models and ask how they have done it
8. Keep trying to achieve that balance
These suggestions certainly aren’t new. We’ve all heard them before. But maybe it’s nice to be reminded once in awhile that there are steps to take for bettering our work-life balance.
Dr. Garber concluded with these remarks of encouragement:
“Don’t give up. It’s worth it to have it all.”
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Government.
Wenny Lin, PhD, MPH, is a fellow in the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the National Cancer Institute. Prior to joining the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, Wenny earned her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2009 and her PhD in Cell & Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008.