Home From The Editor A tight job market for hospitalists brings a new perk: flexibility

A tight job market for hospitalists brings a new perk: flexibility

October 2006

Published in the October 2006 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

In the red-hot job market for hospitalists, it’s easy to focus on the salaries that employers are promising new recruits. But as two of the articles in this month’s issue point out, the shortage of hospitalists is leading not only to fatter paychecks, but to a much greater range of choices for how physicians want to work.

Our special report on the job market, for example, points out that employers are offering flexible schedules to attract more hospitalists to their programs. That flexibility includes a broader choice of hours and shifts so physicians can better tailor their job to their life outside of work.

The notion of flexibility is also a driving factor behind the growing use of nocturnists. As our cover story points out, more and more hospitalist programs are moving to get nocturnists on board.

Groups that have successfully recruited nocturnists say that the dedicated coverage does more than just limit the number of overnights the rest of the team has to work. It also gives everyone in the group, from the daytime hospitalists to the nocturnists themselves, a much greater amount of flexibility in the shifts they work.

This is good news for hospitalists, both those who are changing jobs and those who have the good fortune to work at a practice that offers flexible scheduling. I do wonder, however, how well hospitalist groups that offer such perks will be able to meet the ever-growing demand for their services.

From a practical perspective, it seems like it would be much more difficult to staff a group with 20 half-time physicians than 10 full-timers. If hospital medicine evolves into a specialty that employs a significant number of part-timers, for example, how will that affect its standing within hospitals?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but they’re certainly something to keep an eye on in the future.

Edward Doyle
Editor and Publisher