Home Poll A look at hospitalist schedules

A look at hospitalist schedules

September 2014

Published in the September 2014 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

ONE KEY TO PHYSICIAN SATISFACTION is the schedule they work, and for many hospitalists, a major dissatisfier comes in the form of seven-on/seven-off shifts. Working seven-on/ seven-off can be great when you’re young, but the schedule can wreak havoc on family life. In the 2013 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey, we asked hospitalists about the schedules they currently work, the schedules they would like to work and the schedules they think they’ll be working in five years. Here’s a look at the results.

Block schedules still rule
According to our data, just over half (54%) of full-time hospitalists who treat adults currently work a block shift like seven-on/seven-off. Meanwhile, 37% report working a flexible schedule, while 9% say they work a mix of block coverage and flexible schedules.

The longer hospitalists have been practicing, the less likely they are to work block shifts. Among hospitalists working two years or less, for example, 64% work block shifts. But among hospitalists who have worked between 10 and 20 years, only 51% still work block schedules.

Our data also point to a possible adverse relationship between block schedules and longevity: Fewer hospitalists currently working block shifts say they plan to remain in the specialty or their current job for the long haul.

What hospitalists want
What kind of schedule would hospitalists prefer? Just over one-third (36%) would prefer to work block shifts, which is considerably lower than the number who currently work them.

But flexible shifts aren’t necessarily the answer. Only 38% of respondents would prefer to work flexible shifts, which is only one percentage point off the number of hospitalists who currently work these shifts.

Our data show that 12% of hospitalists say they would like to work a combination of both schedules. But the reality is that a chunk of hospitalists “14% “say they don’t know what type of schedule they would prefer to work.

The future
Finally, when we asked hospitalists how they think schedules might change over the next five years, 23% believe there will be a move away from seven-on/seven-off, but 19% predict a greater move toward that type of block schedule. Just under half (43%), however, think schedules will remain the same.


Interested to see what some hospitals are doing to mix up their schedule options? Check out our short video series from Main Line Health.