Dr Chris Quirk lives an enviable life. He works full time as a cardiologist, whilst also finding the time to be a family man, play sports and sail yachts around the world. This may seem like an unobtainable lifestyle, but Dr Quirk says any doctor can live this way, it’s all about priorities.
When asked how he managed to find the right balance between work and being a family man Dr Quirk was shocked; “It’s a no brainer! Indeed, a more appropriate question would be about fitting work in amongst family life!”
“When it comes to balancing, the family should always come first. Money and wealth have nothing over the family and quality of life.”
Growing up, Dr Quirk's father worked twenty-three hours a day, which meant he didn’t have much time for family. When his mother passed away at the young age of fifty-five Dr Quirk watched his father suffer, he saw that he had regrets. Dr Quirk does not want to have any regrets when it comes to spending time with family, indulging his hobbies and having a career. He spoke to Medworld about how you can have it all.
“It all comes down to perspective,” Dr Quirk told Medworld. “When it comes to balancing, the family should always come first. Money and wealth have nothing over the family and quality of life.”
He explained that the reason most medicos get it wrong is that they don’t have the right perspective. “The commonly held opinion that doctors need to work all hours of the day is not true, especially these days. Even junior doctors hours are very limited these days.”
Freedom to pursue your passions
“I feel it's very important to travel and experience different cultures, ways of life, countries..."
Not only does Dr Quirk find time to be a family man, he has played competitive sport all his life and loves to travel the world. Even before he had a family he still found the right balance between work and his sports, “On the whole it is fairly easy to balance the two, even as a junior doctor in the UK when we worked 98 hours per week.”
Recently, Dr Quirk delivered a yacht to Noumea, navigating purely by the stars.
“Whether it's the freedom, just being at sea, the challenge of man versus the elements, the arrival at new destinations, the people you meet… who knows. For me as a celestial navigator, it's a different mental challenge of going back to basics, not relying on modern technology.”
As Dr Quirk says, boating might not be for everyone, but the feeling he’s describing is. The feeling of having the freedom to pursue your passions and do things for you is integral to your health and wellbeing.
Dr Quirk grew up in Spain, went to boarding school in London and was fortunate to travel all over the world playing sport. It was this that gave him a taste for travel and what you can learn from experiencing other cultures.
“We live in a small world with enormous diversity and for me seeing as much as I can and sharing that with my wife and kids is a high priority.”
When asked how he found the time to fit in travel Dr Quirk said that it was the same as family. It shouldn’t even be a question of fitting it in, you just need to make it a priority.
“I feel it's very important to travel and experience different cultures, ways of life, countries, and people less well off than us – most of us, especially as affluent doctors, find it very easy to get absorbed in our upper-class existence and forget just how lucky we are. This is especially important for our kids, especially in Australia where we have it so good.”
In the world we live in, it’s easy to get hung up on the superficial and the money that you need to attain the lifestyle you want. But if you take the time to travel and open your mind to other cultures who have less than you, you can come back to your life with fresh eyes and gratitude you may not have previously had.
Employers play a role, too
It’s so important to shine a light on the wellbeing of the industry
Dr Quirk pointed out that finding the right work-life balance comes down to the doctor and the employer.
“Most of my employers have been very understanding over the years, although not all I have to say!”
If doctors want to live a life rich in family and recreation as well as work, they can. It’s all about priorities and perspectives. However, the employers do play a role in this also which is why it’s so important to shine a light on the wellbeing of the industry so that when doctors do make the choice, like Dr Quirk, to prioritise themselves, they are not chastised by their place of work.
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