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Do you ever feel like you are always working? Maybe you are spending long hours at work and never getting free time at home. Or maybe you do have time at home, but you can’t stop thinking about work when you’re there! 

I know the struggle. It can be so difficult to find that beautiful work-life balance, especially in the medical field where there is always more work to be done. But that balance is definitely possible to have! And when you are able to incorporate into your day, life gets so much better.

For this episode, I chatted with Dr. Erin Carlquist, MD — dermatopathologist, mama of two toddlers, and inspirational founder of The Doctor’s Doc, a go-to source for physicians who want to learn how to find a work-life balance and live to their fullest potential! 

Dr. Erin shared some incredible insight into how you can have a successful career and equally show up for your life outside the hospital. This includes her top three tips about how to create work-life balance so you can live the life that you envisioned before the chaos and exhaustion set in!

I know you guys are going to love this one as much as I did. Dr. Erin is such a joy to talk to, and she has so much practical wisdom to share from her experiences. Let’s dive in! 


Who Is Dr. Erin Carlquist, MD?


Dr. Erin Carlquist is a loving wife, mama of two kids under three, dermatopathologist, and creator of The Doctor’s Doc. Because clinicians turn to pathologists when they need help finding answers for their patients, pathologists like Dr. Erin have become known as the “doctors’ doctors.” 

Similarly, Dr. Erin created The Doctor’s Doc community, where she helps fellow physicians in all phases of their careers find answers in life. She is passionate about helping physicians heal their crazy, out-of-control lifestyles to create a balanced life that they love!

Dr. Erin refuses to settle for anything less than an exceptional life as a physician, mother, and wife. She firmly believes that you do NOT need to choose between your life or your career because you can have both at the same time! 

Every day, she works to help others live perfectly imperfect lives and unapologetically show up for their family, friends, hobbies, and fabulously successful careers. I am so excited to share the amazing conversation we had with you today! 


The Path to Pathology


Although Dr. Erin found her calling in dermatopathology, she didn’t always know that she wanted to be a doctor. She started out in high school with the dream of becoming a physician and was so excited about the path to medicine. But when she got to college, she second-guessed herself: 

“Once I stepped on campus that first day, I was super intimidated. In orientation, they broke us up into different groups based on what we wanted to do, like premed, business, ect. I just totally got cold feet and thought, ‘Well, most of my family is in business. I’ll do business.’” – Dr. Erin Carlquist, MD 

When we compare ourselves to everyone around us, we lose track of what we really want because we are focusing on them! Although Dr. Erin initially let fear get in the way of her path to medicine, by the end of college, she had returned to the pre-med track and didn’t look back. 

After going to medical school at Florida State University, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to specialize in. Rotation after rotation passed by, and she still couldn’t choose. Panic set in, and she decided to talk to a student support coordinator to narrow down the process. Carefully analyzing each rotation eventually led her to do a short rotation in pathology. It was love at first sight. 

I just went for it. I was like, ‘I love pathology. This is so cool. This is something I barely even knew existed.’ It’s so behind-the-scenes and under the radar for most medical students, and I really just fell in love with it immediately. I just went with my gut and I said, ‘Yep, this is what I’m going to do.’ …  So it was kind of roundabout, but I’m so glad I ended up where I am now. I’m so happy.” – Dr. Erin Carlquist, MD 

I absolutely love to see people living out their calling. Dr. Erin didn’t have a straight line leading right to her career, but that was okay! She followed her heart and eventually found her passion by facing her initial fear of failure. 

Now, she is able to pursue what she loves every day — and not just in the medical field! Dr. Erin chooses to also live as fully as she can in her home life as a wife and mother. Her definition of an exceptional life expertly incorporates that sense of balance. 


What It Means to Have an Exceptional Life in Medicine 


You’ll hear people say that work-life balance doesn’t exist. But I’m here to tell you that’s not true, and Dr. Erin can attest to that as well! Creating a balance between all aspects of your life isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it. Dr. Erin explained it beautifully: 

“I think that an exceptional life in the field of medicine would be feeling like you’re able to do the things that you want to do in the most balanced way possible. … I really believe that you can do anything you want to do. You might not be able to do it all at the same time, and it might not be [perfectly] balanced, but finding the closest thing to that balance, I think is the goal … doing the best at everything that you’re juggling.” – Dr. Erin Carlquist, MD 

Life’s not perfect, and a work-life balance can’t be perfect either. But that’s okay! Just do the best you can with what you have! For Dr. Erin, this looks like being the best mom and wife that she can possibly be when she’s at home and being the best physician she can be when she’s at work. What does this look like for you? 

Personally, I’ve noticed that turning the “switch” on and off between work-mode and mom-mode helps me compartmentalize things and focus on one thing at a time. Dr. Erin noticed that as well, and she mentioned that trying to multitask detracts from her being fully present and creating balance: 

“I’ve found that I’m tempted to multitask. I attempt to try to juggle multiple things at the same time, but I really think that takes away from what you’re experiencing. I feel like you need to wholly experience family life when you’re at home, as much as possible.” – Dr. Erin Carlquist, MD 

When she’s at work, Dr. Erin is fully focused on work. When she’s home, she’s fully immersed in her family. She noticed that it brings her so much more fulfillment to have that separation. And even if the workday doesn’t go as well as planned, she can still find joy in being present with her family. 

I love this approach, and I’m sure you will benefit from it too! Dr. Erin was kind enough to share even more with us about how she balances life when she’s at home. She gave us her top three tips for happiness outside the hospital, and they are definitely post-it-note-worthy, so get out a pen! 

Three Tips for Happiness Outside the Hospital 

Being a mama in medicine myself, I know just how important it is to find time at home to refresh, recharge, and focus on my family. That’s why my husband and I intentionally take long walks in the afternoons. 

We make sure that we don’t talk about work but instead just enjoy each other’s company. I also take the time to journal my gratitudes for the day and my goals for the future! That’s why I love that Dr. Erin’s first tip for happiness at home was journaling: 

Journaling and writing down your priorities, your goals, and things you’re thankful for gives you an appreciation of everything that you have at home. I feel like that works more for my home life than it even does professionally.” – Dr. Erin Carlquist, MD 

According to Dr. Erin, writing down her goal to be intentional and present as a mother has helped her in moments when she was tempted to pick up her phone or get distracted from her home life. So take that extra step to write down what you are grateful for and what you are working towards — trust me, it’s worth the effort, and it keeps you mindful, appreciative, and goal-oriented. 

The second tip that Dr. Erin had for happiness outside the hospital was making time for date night. She has actively made the time for her and her husband to go on a date night every single week, and she noted that it is a game-changer in their relationship: 

“It’s so amazing. It helps us have downtime to be able to focus on each other, really communicate without being interrupted, plan for the future, and reflect on things that have been happening with the family.” – Dr. Erin Carlquist, MD 

Date night is an official part of my schedule, and I even highlight it with a certain color. It is such an important time to set aside with your spouse, no matter how busy life can get. Creating time for date night or other social time with friends is an essential part of maintaining balance. 

The third tip that Dr. Erin had for happiness outside the hospital was putting down the phone: 

My husband has told me and reminded me periodically, ‘Hey, you don’t really need to be on your phone in the car.’ Just putting the phone down, having a conversation, being present in the moment, having hours that you decide that you’re not messing with a phone — that makes a big difference.” – Dr. Erin Carlquist, MD 

Smartphones are addicting and distracting by nature. That’s why I loved this tip about being intentional about setting them aside and creating that space for being present at home. Those three tips — journaling, making date night happen, and putting down the phone — are game-changers for creating that work-life balance in your life. See what you can do today to incorporate them at home! 


Step Out with Confidence® with Dr. Erin Carlquist, MD 


This conversation with Dr. Erin was so fun and relatable, and I hope you were inspired by her passion to create such a beautiful balance in her life. She has maintained an impressive career while also being a loving and present mother and wife, all while helping others to do the same! 

I asked Dr. Erin what words of wisdom she wanted to leave with us today, and this is what she said: 

“If every day, nothing else goes right and everything else is going wrong if you didn’t quite make the mark whatever that happens today, just choose to be happy. … Something might not go my way, but that doesn’t mean that my day is shot. That doesn’t mean that my week or my year or whatever is shot. You can still choose happiness.” – Dr. Erin Carlquist, MD 

You can choose happiness. That is such a great reminder that you are in charge of your life, and you can do, be, and have anything you want! 

If you want to connect with Dr. Erin, she is easily accessible on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! And if you enjoyed this interview and learned something new, be sure to tag Dr. Erin, @erincarlquistmd, and me, @drnikoleta, on Instagram with a screenshot of the episode and your greatest takeaways! As always, if you enjoy the Millennial Doc podcast, it would mean so much to me if you could give it a five-star rating on Apple Podcasts so we can spread the word! 

I hope this conversation helped inspire you to find work-life balance and choose to be happy because you can have the best of both worlds! You absolutely CAN have both a fabulously successful career and equally show up for your life outside the hospital. 

I’m so grateful for all of you. As always, Step Out with Confidence® and go rock your life!


Disclaimer: The Millennial Doc® Podcast is advertising/marketing material. It is not medical advice. Please consult with your doctor on these topics. Copyright Dr. Nikoleta 2019.