Being a physician has always been a stressful occupation, but today, it’s perhaps more strenuous than ever. Doctors face a convergence of factors that seriously affect their private lives; irregular work hours, exposure to high level of stress, or responsibility for other people’s lives being some of them.
These aspects and more make it extremely difficult for doctors to maintain a healthy work-life balance. The disturbing statistics shared below seem to confirm that.
Internists Work At Least 54 Hours Per Week
According to the Medical Economic’s report, average time spent by physicians at work each week is around 50 hours. Internists tend to work the longest, more than 54 hours every week. Family physicians spend at least 51 hours weekly in their practices.
About 18% of All Doctors Work 60-80 Hours Every Week
While 50 hours per week may not come as entirely shocking, almost one in five doctors work significantly longer, with several percents of physicians working double shifts of 80 and more hours week each week.
This is caused by various factors, many of which are outside of doctors’ control. They include the shortage of high-qualified healthcare specialists, the increasing number of patients, or the lack of administrative efficiency of hospitals and practices.
An Average Doctor Devotes 26% of His/Her Time to Patients
A task that consumes about 48% of physician’s time is... admin work. The fact that so much time and attention is shifted to desk work is one of the major sources of frustration for healthcare professionals.
Is there anything that could help doctors reverse these proportions? Telehealth software, automation of appointment scheduling, call forwarding, or hiring more non-clinical staff, are some of the most popular solutions which can help mitigate that problem.
Ca. 40% of Physicians Admit That Work Leaves Them No Space for Private Lives
As this data confirms, becoming a doctor is frequently a matter of choice between a vocation and family. On a brighter note, 45% of doctors manage to balance their private and professional lives. This proves that even in such a demanding profession as a physician, it is possible to draw the line and schedule some ‘me-time’.
28% of Doctors Fall Behind with Appointments DAILY
While 36% do it several times a week [Source: Medscape].
There are a few simple time management tactics that can help doctors keep appointment times and catch up on delayed visits:
Be realistic about time management and allow extra time for the commute, appointments, and admin work.
Offer online booking and appointment reminders to keep your patients from running late.
Reschedule late runners to avoid falling behind with other visits.
While with a patient, eliminate distractions. If possible, mute your mobile, forward calls, and turn off message notifications.
Notify patients and staff if you are running behind so they can adjust their schedules.
42% of Physicians Are Burnt Out, While 15% Fight with Depression
Last year’s Medscape report on physicians shows that every second doctor is struggling with burnout or depression. Those problems affect all specializations, but doctors in clinical care, neurology, and family care tend to be most vulnerable.
Most Physicians Take 3-4 Weeks of Holidays; One in Four Doctors Only Rests for 1-2 Weeks Per Year
The good news is that the majority of physicians realize the importance of slowing down. As another Medscape report shows, 47% of physicians take about a month off each year. On the other end of the spectrum are the 6% who stay off work for less than a week per year!
Bottom Line. How to Cope With These Figures?
Any job that involves working irregular hours is going to affect a person’s social life. Especially in the modern times of ‘always-on’ lifestyle, which expects us to be constantly connected and active, separating private life from work has become quite challenging. And this is especially true for the doctor’s profession.
Yet, attaining work-life balance in medicine is attainable. It requires some practice in assertiveness, and development of positive time management habits. Thankfully, there’s a whole array of tools and resources available to support doctors in integrating private life into their busy careers.