Work-Life Balance: Tips from Flagstaff’s Busiest Surgeon


As we each find our own way through life, we all have different experiences, often in different directions with different motivations. Some of us strive for success in business or a happy home and social life, but many of us would like it all – a good work and life balance. That’s easier said than done as we all know. Striking that work and life balance takes awareness and a consistent effort to keep it all together. Long work days or chaotic days at home need to be balanced with fun or mind-calming activities. Maybe yoga in the park sets your soul at ease. Perhaps a walk in the towering pine trees or a day spent dancing at one of Flagstaff’s awesome festivals brings you joy. Whatever it may be, embrace it. Be wildly successful in your work, but also include the things that make you feel balanced. 

A Motto to Live By

I’ll admit this sort of balance has never been easy for our family to maintain. My husband Patrick and I are work-oriented people and it takes conscious effort to remind ourselves work and play are both equally important for the soul. While growing up, my husband was always motivated by setting and achieving goals. He knew at a very young age that he wanted to be a surgeon and was told it would be a difficult journey to get there.  Without knowing anyone in the medical field to guide him, he just made a decision to make it happen no matter what.  After all, his PaPa had always written “hard work pays off” in every one of his birthday, Christmas, and congratulatory cards for as long as he could remember. This sort-of family motto has served my husband well.

Finding Balance

He does work hard, often too hard with long work hours and during weekends. As the newest partner at Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona and The Hand Surgery Center of Northern Arizona, he is also the busiest surgeon in Flagstaff, performing over 400 surgeries since the start of this year. In addition to performing surgery at Flagstaff Medical Center and Northern Arizona SurgiCenter he also sees patients in clinic for follow-up, consultations, and cosmetic procedures. His workdays fill up fast and often end well past 8pm, but with all of his intense past schooling and surgery training (all 19 years of it), he is used to working hard. The good news is now, since moving to Flagstaff, he has learned to balance all this work with a fun family life. 

Work And Play Hard

My husband’s source of stress relief has become researching and planning quick weekend trips for our own little family. Living here in Flagstaff has provided us with endless opportunities for fun outdoor adventures in all directions! With three young children, flying to destinations doesn’t make practical or financial sense for us, so we road trip. We’ve discovered 5 hours or less in the car to be the happy compromise with the kids. As long as they have snacks, coloring books and movies to keep them occupied; we can take them to some amazing destinations throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and California. From whitewater rafting the Animas River in Durango to horseback riding through Moab. And running through the sand dunes of Death Valley, our family loves a good outdoor adventure!

Patrick and I like to think our kids will remember all the cool things we see and experience as a family, but even if their young minds forget, we will always have the pictures and our own memories to share with them again and again. So my husband gets the mental escape of planning these fun trips for us and we all cherish the time spent together adventuring. Work hard and play hard seems to suit our family now in finding our own work and life balance!

Dr. Patrick Cole’s work and life balance – his medical office and our refrigerator magnets representing just some of our family adventures since moving to Flagstaff in 2015

Meet the Guest Writer

Allie Cole and her family moved from Texas to Flagstaff in the summer of 2015. Previously working as a NICU nurse and lactation counselor, Allie provided an interesting combination of high-tech and natural nursing care to infants and children. Now here in Flagstaff, she is a nurse helping local special needs children in their homes. Allie’s been married to her college sweetheart Patrick, a surgeon, over 17 years and they have 3 small children.

This post is brought to you by our Sponsor, Patrick Cole, M.D.