Want to Become a Part-Time Doctor? Here’s How.
Most people imagine that all doctors work ridiculously long hours. While more than a quarter of physicians work well over the traditional 40-hour workweek, a small, but growing portion of doctors are choosing to work part-time. Since a decision to go part-time could drastically affect your career and your finances, there must be a justifiable reason that physicians are cutting back on their hours. Let’s take a closer look at why doctors are switching to part-time work, and why you should (or shouldn’t) consider doing the same.
The Growing Number of Part-Time Doctors
Studies have found that more and more physicians are deciding to practice part-time. The Physician Foundation found that 8.5% of physicians work or were thinking of working under 20 hours each week. On top of that, about 22% of physicians have expressed wanting to reduce their hours. Each year, the number of part-time physicians grows slightly, demonstrating that the medical community can be a difficult one to work in. Plus, in the gig economy, many physicians are realizing they can work as a doctor and maintain other work on the side. It’s difficult to tell for certain, but as the years go on, it’s likely part-time doctors will become more common.
Reasons a Doctor Would Want to Work Part-Time
To avoid burnout
Burnout has become a serious issue in the medical community. According to a Medscape study, more than half of physicians in the U.S. report that they’re burnt out. This can cause major emotional and physical issues. To combat burnout culture, some doctors have started working part-time. With fewer patients, they have the time to really focus on those that they do have.
To spend more time with family
With exhausting hours, many physicians report that it can be difficult to balance their work and family life. Working part-time, and perhaps even in private practice, doctors can make their own schedules and simply have more time to devote to their families.
So they can pursue additional income streams
Medicine can be a high-powered career, but there are many paths physicians can take these days. From medical writing to public health work, and more, there are part-time opportunities that you could take on in addition to your regular practice.
They’re getting older and want less stress
Doctors who have been practicing for many years often get tired of working difficult schedules. For physicians nearing retirement, taking on part-time work can be a way for them to continue practicing without taking on too much.
Reasons a Doctor Would not Want to Work Part-Time
You’ll take a significant pay cut
As a part-time physician, you’ll be working less hours so you’ll simply get paid less. While a part-time doctor salary will range based on your location and specialty, on average, you’ll find a range between $$208,000 – $329,500. Full-time physicians on the other hand, make about $339,000+ depending on specialty.
You may lose your benefits
Most employers don’t offer any benefits package to part-time workers, and hospitals and clinics aren’t the exception. This means you’ll lose access to insurance, retirement accounts, and bonuses.
All that being said, as the push for part-time work continues, studies have found that benefits packages for part-time workers have started to expand. In order to attract the best candidates, hospitals have started to offer limited benefits.
You could have a difficult time advancing in your career
When you’re working part-time, you’re not getting as much hands-on experience as those working full-time. Plus, as a younger doctor, you may have a hard time finding residencies that will allow you to work part-time.
Your student loan payments will come due eventually, whether you’re working part-time as a physician or full-time. As a part-time doctor, you’ll make less money, and depending on how much you owe, that might not be enough to cut it.
Before going part-time as a doctor, consider if you can afford it, even if you do have jobs outside of medicine.
How to Structure a Part-Time Contract
Whether you’re working in a hospital, private practice, or you’re a traveling physician, you’ll have some sort of contract you’ll sign before starting employment. You’ll need to spend some time preparing to negotiate that contract, if necessary. Take the following steps to ensure you’re getting the right terms for your needs.
Write out what you want
In your contract, you’ll want to make sure the following is addressed:
- Job title
- How many hours you’ll work on a daily, weekly, and/or monthly basis
- Your benefits package, if any, including insurance, retirement benefits, bonus pay, etc.
- Termination clause, aka how much notice do you need to give, and how much notice does your employer have to give?
Write down what you’re looking for in each of the categories above so you remember exactly what you’re negotiating, even if the conversation becomes difficult.
Know your rights as a worker
When you negotiate your contract, it’s important to completely understand what your rights are as a part-time employee. The Fair Labor Standards Act applies to both full-time and part-time employers, and sets a certain standard for all employers. It sets the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. Familiarize yourself with the minimums your employer must offer.
Understand where you’ll have to compromise
There’s a very real chance that you won’t get everything you come to the table with. Part-time doctors aren’t exactly the norm at the moment, so the benefits you get will vary depending on the specific job you take.
Get a lawyer to take a look
If you’re confused by any part of your contract, having a contract lawyer look it over can’t hurt. This could cost hundreds of dollars, though, so take that into consideration before your contract negotiation.
Which Specialties Hire Part-Time Doctors?
Some specialties do lend to part-time work a bit more than others. For example, part-time emergency medicine doctors are often common because it’s a common specialty and their shift-schedule system lends more easily to part-time work.
Additionally, the following specialties are expanding their part-time opportunities:
- Registered nurses
- Physicians assistants
- Psychologists and psychiatrists
- Physical therapists
- Home health aides
- Radiologic techs
If you practice, or are looking to practice in a very specialized field, part-time opportunities are less likely because the field is more competitive and hospitals don’t feel the need to offer part-time work.