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Beauty on the Job

February 25, 2019

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Bring your best self to work.

Whether you’re working eight hours or fourteen, taking care of patients is hard work. The hospital or clinic can begin to feel like a home away from home. As a hospital-based interventional radiologist, I’ve honed some of my self-care habits over the years. Beauty on the Job is a distillation of self-care habits that work for me as an interventional radiologist. I hope this post gives you some ideas about how to care for your own self!  

Note: this post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through one of my links, I may receive a portion of the proceeds at NO additional cost to you. 

Getting out the door

A “CC,” or color-correcting cream smooths and evens my skin in a few seconds, while also working as a moisturizer and sunscreen. The one I favor is light, fast, and feels good on.

I swipe on lip stain in the morning, and it stays put through a quick breakfast. Most lip products will rub off on your procedure mask, so a stain gets the most mileage. I like this one. An additional lip gloss or balm in your bag or desk can salvage cracked lips or add color to your visage when your day runs long.

Dark under-eye circles can be brightened with some First Aid Beauty Triple Eye Remedy, or they can be worn as a badge of honor. I opted to display my dark circles for the first few years as an attending, to save myself a step getting ready for work, and well, because I earned them!

I apply mascara in the morning if I have time. Waterproof, smudge-free formulas are key, as sweat and oil make most makeup melt downward. Blush is fun to apply if there is an extra moment to dote on myself. 


Hair will be stuffed under a bouffant, so I don’t fuss on it for long. Don’t bother with heat styling, unless you enjoy it. I’ve been off heat styling for years, embracing my natural curly/ wavy texture. Air-drying saves a ton of time if you can figure out how to make it work for you.

Hydration & supplements

I guzzle room temperature water, and generally favor beverages without sugar, like seltzer, when water gets boring. I hoard fluids at my desk so they are always available.

Tea (or hot water) warms me up when the hospital is cold. Green tea gives a great afternoon caffeine boost that doesn’t make me jittery.

I keep vitamins and supplements in my office, so I can take them with meals. My desk always contains a pot of moisturizer, which I can slather on any itchy or dehydrated skin.

Fighting gravity

Many IRs like to wear compression stockings to improve venous return since they routinely work standing for long periods of time. I love the quality of Jobst, but if you prefer a sock to a stocking, Amazon has some varied, fun and colorful options. Faithfully wearing compression socks and stockings prevents ankle swelling and varicose veins, while increasing my energy. Also, they take some work to get on, they can alert me early to unnoticed weight gain.

Ergonomics in the IR suite

Raise the procedure table if you find yourself stooping over your patient. Ask the staff to bring the monitor directly across from you, where you can see it comfortably. The location of the monitor should result in your gazing slightly downward. This is more ergonomic than craning your neck upward. All of these tweaks can help prevent fatigue and musculoskeletal problems down the line. 

Your lead should be fitted to you so that it is snug, and well-supported by your hips and shoulders. The best configuration is a separate kilt and top, to distribute the weight evenly. If I’ve been standing for a while, I’ll do a few calf raises to get the blood flowing. When I was pregnant, I’d sit for a moment, say during a prolonged balloon inflation.

Back at home

When you get home at night, wash the sweat and makeup off your eyes, face, and neck. Put some moisturizer on your face if there’s time. Sometimes, working hard limits my sun exposure, a good thing in Southern California!

A realistic sleep schedule

When you’re a mom and a doctor on call, you sleep when you can. I aim for at least seven hours each night. Whether I’m interrupted by a toddler or a trauma surgeon, some nights I run a sleep deficit. I make up for this with small naps and sleeping in when possible. 

Cafeteria bites

Unfortunately, hospital cafeterias aren’t always known for their healthy options. But it’s certainly convenient, and usually enough to fuel the work. I usually choose a soup and a wrap, or something warm off the line. If I’m craving chicken fingers, I combine them with a salad instead of fries. I choose as healthfully as I can.

One strategy I’ve adopted is fasting until 11 am. This allows me to nix the unhealthy breakfast options while simplifying my morning. Instead of eating, I focus on hydrating with water, tea, and flavored seltzer. 

Fitting in exercise

I’ll exercise for small bouts or when there’s an opportunity:

  • for ten minutes between cases at the cardiac rehab gym
  • pushing my toddler in a jogging stroller
  • on a weekend hike with baby in a carrier
  • any combination thereof

Using your time and talents to help people is beautiful, but don’t forget to take care of you. It’s OK to think of yourself, be refreshed, and be hydrated as you enter your next case. It’s OK to be a beauty on the job! 

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