Some disabled and chronically ill students will need to take periods of medical leave – also known as interruption in the UK – to rest and recover when the body says it needs a break.
What can you do make the most of medical leave, and make things easier for yourself upon your return? Those of us with chronic illnesses know that changes to routine can be stressful alone, without the added pressures that come from returning to PhD research in earnest.
In this post from Tenure She Wrote Sarcozona talks about the things she found helpful, from how to organize medical leave, what to do once you’re on it, and how to use it to your advantage in preparing for your return to work.
It’s sage advice from someone who knows this situation first-hand, and well worth a read by both students and academics who want to know more about how to support them.
I’m three-quarters of the way through medical leave. I’m going back to work soon and I feel ready, even though my health still isn’t perfect. I was anxious about going on leave and determined to make the most of it. Going on medical leave isn’t about going on a four-month vacation; it’s about getting better and learning to work around your illness (if it’s chronic) – and that takes work. Here’s my guide to making medical leave a success…
…Now that you know what your days need to look like to be healthier and happier, practice. Pretend you’re back at work and make your new knowledge into effortless, automatic habits. You don’t want to be fumbling when you get back or finding out that your perfect schedule isn’t so perfect when you have to account for the bus or meetings. Taking medical leave made me worry I wouldn’t be physically strong enough to do my PhD. Practising the schedule and habits I’ve developed over my medical leave makes me more confident in my abilities and knowledgeable about my limits.
I’m still nervous about going back. I still have fears about my ability to do a PhD. But I also feel healthier, happier, stronger, and ready to go back.
If you’ve ever been on medical leave, what advice do you have for making the most of it? What about going back?
Image: ‘Resting’ by Dave DeHetre, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 (Generic)
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