Published in the December 2012 issue of Today’s Hospitalist
WHILE THERE MAY BE A LOT OF VARIATION in hospitalist work schedules “in terms of what type of shift they work and how many shifts they work per month “one thing is clear: Most hospitalists say they would like to work less.
In the 2012 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey, we asked hospitalists not only about their current work schedules, but about their preferences. And for the most part, hospitalists said they would prefer to work fewer nights, fewer shifts per month, fewer hours per shift and fewer hours per month. Here’s a look at how much hospitalists are currently working, and how much they say they would like to work.
What’s your primary shift?
More hospitalists say they typically work daytime shifts with occasional night coverage (35.6%) than any other type of shift. By comparison, a lucky few “21.6% “work only daytime shifts.
When asked what type of shift they would prefer, 63% of hospitalists said that they would prefer to work only days. Only 16.1% said they would prefer to work the most common schedule: daytime shifts with occasional night coverage.
Daytime-only shifts are much more common among adult hospitalists (23.4% report working only days) than pediatric hospitalists (10.7% report working only days). Perhaps not coincidentally, more adult hospitalists say they would like to work daytime-only shifts (66.7%) than pediatric hospitalists (41.1%).
By region, hospitalists in the Southwest and Mountain regions are more likely to work daytime shifts with occasional night coverage. Those shifts are the least popular in the Southwest, with only 9.3% of hospitalists in that region saying that they want to work occasional night coverage.
Shifts per month
When it comes to monthly workload, hospitalists report working 15.78 shifts per month. Nearly half (44.5%), however, say that they work 10 to 15 shifts per month. And just under one half of hospitalists (43.1%) say they work 16 or more shifts.
What’s hospitalists’ preferred number of shifts per month? In our survey, 14.16 shifts per month was identified as the preferred number. Nearly two-thirds (61.7%) say they would like to work between 10 and 15 shifts per month, and 22.5% say they would prefer to work 16 to 20.
The data also reveal some interesting differences. Adult hospitalists report working more shifts per month (15.90) than pediatric hospitalists (15.06), and hospitalists working for national hospitalist management companies tend to work more shifts per month (17.54) than hospitalists in any other type of practice.
Hours per shift
There seems to be more consistency in shift length. Hospitalists report working an average of 11.61 hours per shift, with nearly half (46.7%) saying they work 12-hour shifts.
When asked about their preferred shift length, however, hospitalists identified 10.68 hours per shift. Just over one-third (35.8%) said they would prefer to work 10-hour shifts, and 29% said they would prefer 12-hour shifts. About the same number (28.6%) said they would like to work even shorter shifts of eight hours or less.
Hours per month
Hospitalists report working a mean of 180 hours a month, which equates to roughly 15 12-hour shifts. But just under one-third (27.9%) report working more hours per month.
When asked about their preferences, hospitalists said they would prefer to work a mean of 157 hours, which equals about 13 12-hour shifts a month. About one-quarter (23.9%) said they would prefer to work less than 120 hours, which is roughly 10 12-hour shifts a month. Another 23.3% said they would like to work between 140 to 159 hours a month, which would translate to 11 to 13 shifts per month.