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A look at hospitalist shifts

How many doctors work only days?

Published in the February 2011 issue of Today's Hospitalist

WHAT TYPE OF WORK SHIFT is most common in hospital medicine? While there’s no easy answer to that question, data from the 2010 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey shed some light on the types of shifts that hospitalists say they’re working.

What is your primary shift?
While most physicians want to work daytime shifts, less than one-third report having a daytime shift as their primary shift. Roughly another third say they work primarily day shifts with an occasional night shift thrown into the mix.

Larger groups (those with 10 to 15 hospitalists) tend to have fewer physicians working only days, and they tend to have more physicians working occasional night coverage. In smaller groups, on the other hand, physicians tend to work more dedicated day shifts.

The more experience hospitalists have, the less likely they are to have nighttime hours as their primary shifts. And women are more likely to work daytime only shifts and less likely to have occasional night coverage.

Primary shifts of hospitalists

  • Only daytime shifts: 29.4%
  • Only nighttime shifts: 4.7%
  • Mostly daytime shifts with occasional night coverage: 34.8%
  • Scheduled rotation with blocks of day shifts and blocks of nights: 21.3%
  • Other: 9.8%

Differences by employment type
The biggest differences in hospitalists’ primary shifts appear when the data are cut by type of employer. More than half of hospitalists working for universities and medical schools, for example, work only daytime shifts.

Daytime shifts with occasional night coverage is most popular at local hospitalist groups. And rotating blocks of nights and days is most popular at national hospitalist management companies.

Want more data about hospitalist pay, work hours and more? Visit and look for the "Survey Results" button on the left side of the page.

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