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A look at night work for hospitalists

What strategies do groups use to cover nights?

Keywords: Strategies used by hospitalist groups to cover nights - survey results

Published in the April 2009 issue of Today's Hospitalist

ONE OF THE UNFORTUNATE REALITIES OF LIFE as a hospitalist is working nights. In the latest Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey, most of you said you spend at least some time working nights. Here’s what else you had to say about night work.

How does your group cover nights?

The most popular strategy is to spread the pain among as many physicians as possible. More than 60% of groups rotate their hospitalists through night coverage. Beeper call is still being used, with just over 20% of doctors saying they take call at night. Another solution is using moonlighters, which garnered a response rate of 16.6%.

What about nocturnists? On average, less than a quarter (21.8%) of hospitalist groups have nocturnists, although the trend is more popular in specialties like med/peds (28.1%).

What type of night shift do you commonly work?

We asked hospitalists to tell us how their work at night breaks down into different nighttime shifts: nights, evenings and nights on call.

Just over one-quarter of hospitalists say they spend some hospitalist time working nights, a number that is fairly consistent across hospitalist specialties.

By specialty, family medicine hospitalists seem to fare the best, with only 20.8% of those physicians saying that they rotate through night shifts. (More than 12% say they work some evening shifts—which we didn’t define—while 13.2% of family medicine hospitalists work nights on call.) Among hospitalists trained in internal medicine, 27.9% say they work night shifts, while 16.3% report working evening shifts and 13.2% work nights on call.

Taken together, the data indicate that a fair number of hospitalists work at some point during the night or evening.

Type of shift worked
Rotating shift schedule: 43.6%
Day: 27.3%
Varies—not regular: 26.8%
Nights: 26.4%
Evenings: 15.7%
Nights on call: 14.1%
None of these: 5.6%
Weekend: 1.5%
24-hour: 1.5%
Morning: 1.3%

Want more details?

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR MORE DETAILS on hospitalists’ work hours, as well as information on their compensation and other trends, check out the results of the Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey online.

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