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A look at hospitalist schedules

July 2012

Published in the July 2012 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

HOSPITAL MEDICINE IS KNOWN AS A SPECIALTY that revolves around shift work, but how many hospitalists actually work shifts only? Data from the 2011 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey show that shift work dominates the specialty, but barely. Just over half of hospitalists work shifts only, but many hospitalists have work schedules that resemble more traditional forms of medical practice. Here’s a look at what our data say about scheduling models used in the specialty.

Shift variables
Just over half of hospitalists (51.4%) say they work shifts only with no call. Another quarter (26.4%) work a combination of shifts and call, and just over 16% work a more traditional type of shift that involves daytime coverage and beeper call. Those numbers, however, vary based on the types of patients hospitalists treat, the size of their practice and the part of the country in which they practice.

  • Type of patients treated. Work schedules for hospitalists show significant variation based on the type of patients they treat. More than half of hospitalists treating adult patients (53.7%) work shifts only, for instance, compared to only 38.3% of pediatric hospitalists.
  • Size of program. In general, the more hospitalists a program has, the more likely those hospitalists work only shifts. In groups with more than 15 hospitalists, for example, 57.9% of physicians work shifts only. In groups with one to four hospitalists, by comparison, just 33% of physicians work only shifts. Physicians in smaller hospitalist groups are more likely to work traditional daytime coverage with beeper call or a combination of shifts and call.
  • Region. Geography plays a role in the type of schedules hospitalists work. Hospitalists in the Southwest are less likely to work shifts only, while hospitalists in the South are the most likely to work shifts. And hospitalists in the South and the Pacific regions are the least likely to work daytime hours with night call. n compensation. Finally, hospitalist schedules seem to have a definite impact on compensation. Hospitalists working daytime shifts and taking beeper call report making about 10% less than their colleagues working shifts only or a combination of shifts plus call.