There’s clearly a new mindset among today’s physicians.
Instead of quietly working double-digit shifts and never-ending exhausting hours, more and more are actively seeking a friendlier work schedule. It’s a trend that is only expected to rise.
In search of an improved quality of life
A study cited by the American College of Physicians found that 44 percent of females and 22 percent of male physicians worked part-time in 2011, almost three times the rate of 2005.
There are several reasons for this shift, including a growing awareness of the problem of burnout and stress among physicians. Another factor is the entrepreneurial spirit of the younger generation; it’s not uncommon for a physician to enjoy clinical practice while launching or partaking in another endeavor within the scope of their medical training. Finally, physicians of both genders are less willing to miss out on their children’s early years.
Recognizing the need to attract and maintain tomorrow’s physicians, employers are becoming more accommodating and flexible. Tapping into that pool of part-time providers can draw a new influx of smart, capable talent - and potentially decrease physician turnover in the long run.
The benefits of flexible scheduling
A shift to shorter shifts isn’t just about satisfying physician’s needs; employers stand a lot to gain as well. One is a potential increase in interested candidates. Females, traditionally the majority of the part-time sector, remain more prominent than males in seeking reduced hours. According to the ACP: "Over 50 percent of medical school entrants today are female. As more women enter residency programs and then go into practice, it is safe to assume that desire for part-time opportunities will continue to
Productivity is also unaffected. The Medical Group Management Association’s Physician Compensation and Productivity Survey shows that "the compensation to gross charges ratio and ambulatory encounters per physician, both measures of relative productivity, is virtually identical for physicians working 40 to 60 percent of full time and those working full time."
Advocates may conclude that a physician working fewer hours will arrive for their shifts better rested, more focused, and remain more compassionate.
Any concerns about gaps in resources and/or supporting staff due to partial shifts can be offset by setting up job-sharing, an arrangement in which two part-time physicians fulfill the role of one full-time physician.
Attracting part-time talent
To attract part-time talent, take care not to treat the position any differently as you would a full-timer. Be sure all the details of the job - benefits, call requirements, shifts, pay - are clear in the description. Consider non-clinical time, such as meetings, paperwork and patient calls, and be careful that the hours don’t snowball once all elements are factored in. When announcing the opening, specifically express it is a search for a part-time worker; don’t ask for a full-timer but express willingness to accept part-time as a concession.
With the landscape of medicine always changing, understanding the needs of tomorrow’s physicians should be first in mind. Supporting new ideas in scheduling can be one way to improve employee retention and secure new talent.