Home Poll A look at night coverage

A look at night coverage

September 2011

Published in the September 2011 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

Let’s face it: Very few physicians like working nights. But because relatively few groups have the luxury of dedicated overnight staff, most turn to their daytime physicians to work the graveyard shift. Here’s a look at data from the 2010 today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey explaining how hospitalist groups cover nights.

Solutions for night coverage
The most common way hospitalist groups cover nights is to spread the pain among their physicians. More than half (54.3%) of physicians say they rotate night coverage with their colleagues.

However, there are differences among night-coverage options available to pediatric and adult hospitalists. Fewer pediatric hospitalists (12%) work with nocturnists, for instance, and more (33.6%) take beeper call. More adult hospitalists work with moonlighters (17.6%) than pediatric hospitalists do (10.7%).

Variation by employer and group size
Sort the data by employer type and group size, and some trends emerge.

National hospitalist management companies, for example, are much more likely to have physicians rotate (62.9%) than to use other coverage strategies, while universities and medical schools are the least likely to rely on doctor rotation (33.8%). National hospitalist management companies are the least likely to have physicians take beeper call (12.9%); universities/medical schools are the most likely (32.3%).

And larger groups are much more likely to have nocturnists; 63.8% of physicians working at groups with more than 15 doctors report working with nocturnists, compared to only 14% of hospitalists working at groups with one to four physicians.

Variation by patient volume
Night-coverage strategies also show significant variation by patient volume. High-volume practices are more likely to rotate hospitalists to cover nights than lower-volume groups. High-volume groups are also less likely to have their physicians take beeper call.

Want more data about hospitalist pay, work hours and more? Go to the 2010 survey results online at www.todayshospitalist.com and look for the “Survey Results” button on the left side of the page.