As the pressures of medicine mount, many doctors are switching to part-time. It’s a significant decision for doctors who are overwhelmed and experiencing burnout. Many doctors find part-time work leads to renewed enthusiasm, a better professional outlook, and less stress.
Consider this anecdote from Katie Noorbakhish, MD at KevinMD.com:
So, yeah, I work part-time. It is awesome and I am a great doctor to my patients. I think the fact that my schedule is so symbiotic with my family life enhances my abilities as a physician. In the big picture, when home life is good, it is easier to focus on others.
Why Part-Time Work?
A doctor’s reality can be daunting. Patient outcomes can be unpredictable, yet doctors often take full responsibility for what happens. The uncertainty leads to stress, and stress can have negative effects on both staff and patients.
Beyond the inherent stressors of the job, doctors also deal with a whimsical schedule and excessive overtime. The work-life balance is negatively skewed for doctors, compounding the stress. As such, many doctors are cutting back to part-time work to create balance and relieve stress. In fact, an American Medical Group Management Retention and Cejka Search survey determined part-time physicians now make up 21 percent of the workforce. That number was just 13 percent in 2005.
By working part-time, many doctors rediscover a sense of purpose and a love for medicine. And that’s great news for patients, nurses, and other facility staff.
Making the Change to Part-Time
Numerous doctors today are making the switch to part-time by becoming locum tenens physicians. Locum tenens physicians determine their own work schedules and make 33 percent more money (when you consider travel, housing, and insurance).
Studies have shown working fewer hours can prevent burnout and lead to greater work satisfaction. The move to part-time can seem like a leap, but you may enjoy the freedom and flexibility too much to notice.
“My schedule is flexible enough that I can trade shifts and cover for co-workers without difficulty,” writes Dr. Noorbakhsh. “I love being able to do this without sweating whether I am sacrificing time with my kids.”
Becoming a locum tenens doctor is a simple process. Most commonly, it begins with a call to a locums agency. You’ll need to polish your curriculum vitae and make a list of references, and while there is a certain amount of initial effort involved, the move to part-time may just be what the doctor ordered! Read more about starting as a locum here.