Yesterday afternoon I left work at 1 PM.
This may not sound all that amazing to you, given that people sometimes leave work early for doctors' appointments or other things that need to be done during working hours. What made it amazing is that I had absolutely nothing to go to. I was simply done my work for the day*.
As a fellow, I never intentionally came late or left early; it was completely unacceptable to not be at work for the full day. The few times I was late because of a missed alarm or unexpected traffic, I was inevitably met by a supervisor who would look at his watch and say "Slacking off, are we?" It didn't matter if I was finished my work for the day or if I could accomplish my work more efficiently in the quiet of my own home: if it was between the hours of 9 am and 5 PM**, I was expected to be at my desk or in the hospital.
As an attending, on the other hand, I set my own schedule (within certain limits). I decide when I take call, I decide how many clinics a week I work, and I decide when to do research (if at all). The freedom is awesome! And while I have no intention of abusing this freedom, I do intend to make the most of it. Before starting work, I decided that I will no longer stay at work just to make an appearance. If I finish my work before 5 PM, I will go home early and enjoy my life outside of the hospital.
I don't expect this to happen often, and I'm sure there will be days when I make up for it by staying far past 5 PM. But on the days when I can go home in the early afternoon, I fully intend to do it. And I intend to enjoy every minute of the kitchen gadget store browsing/cooking with copious amounts of zucchini/napping that I do with my time off.
*Of course, as soon as I left the hospital I got paged to go back, but such is life.
**If you're a resident/physician/other hard-working person who can only dream of a (mostly) 9-5 schedule, I'm sorry. My chosen career is awesome.