By FlexMedStaff

Subscribe Now!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Enter your email if you would like to subscribe to the FlexMedStaff newsletter.

For physicians, work frequently bleeds into their personal life. 

Dinner with your family is interrupted by a call from a consultant. Your gym workout is interrupted by a call from the emergency department to evaluate a critical patient. Bedtime with kids is interrupted by an outlying facility asking for assistance with a patient care issue. A lonely, terrified patient calling for reassurance interrupts your sacred sleep time.

And yet, many of us love the art of medicine.

Throughout our training and early careers, we lived and breathed medicine, which was our life! At some point, we begin to recognize what we are missing out on. Our priorities start to shift, and the profession begins to wear us down. For some of us, the profession we once loved becomes just a job. Some of us look for something else out of the medical profession.

We seek an improved work-life balance.

Many have explored part-time work to shift away from a traditional, full-time role to improve work-life balance. It can be life-changing! It allows you to practice medicine while also having time off to pursue other careers and passions.

To keep physicians struggling or burned out in the profession, we propose that physicians consider acting as independent contractors to perform part-time clinical work to improve their work-life balance. For this discussion, we refer to part-time as an all-inclusive term to include anything other than a traditional full-time position. This might consist of locums-type work and non-traditional arrangements where a physician contracts directly with a facility or group (i.e., 2 days per week, 2 weeks per month, 2 weekends per month, etc.).

Here are some advantages of becoming an independently contracted physician to perform part-time clinical work.

#1. Contracted work is inherently about “consent.” The employer asks.  You agree – or not.  Simple!

#2. There is no assumption that additional work will be undertaken without additional compensation.

#3. Greater ability to adapt to unpredictable demands and minor family illnesses.

#4. Part-time work allows for day-to-day flexibility to arrange for dental and medical appointments without worrying about RVUs or potentially lost bonuses, penalties, or the prospect of being denied medical leave requests altogether.

#5. Contracting as an independent physician allows for longer-term flexibility. Going on an extended vacation to Italy or attending an academic conference for a whole week is possible.

#6. Independently contracting provides leverage to avoid signing a non-compete agreement, especially when negotiating directly with a group.  There is no need to relocate if the position is not a fit.

#7. Physicians that independently contract are generally well-paid and well-appreciated.  Often, these independent physicians give reprieve to a tired group of employed physicians who quickly show gratitude.

#8. You may not be employed, but often a physician who independently contracts with a group or facility can quickly feel like they are part of the “team.”

Don’t let the misconceptions of part-time sway you.

Not all physicians believe that part-time doctoring is good for the field of medicine. Simply put, you don’t need to listen to them. Review these misconceptions about contracting directly as an independent physician for part-time clinical work.

#1: Part-time is for incompetent doctors. FALSE.

Highly qualified and competent clinicians prefer part-time over traditional positions. Though not studied in-depth, the care provided by many part-time and locum physicians is as good or better than that provided by salaried employees (5, 6)

#2: Part-time work is not intellectually stimulating. FALSE

Working with different clinicians at different facilities allows for professional and personal growth. It is what you make of it. You have plenty of ability to collaborate with your colleagues as a part-time physician.

#3: Part-time makes publishing, research, medical education, and achieving a promotion inaccessible. FALSE.

No matter your role, you will continue to be asked to provide lectures and participate in research.

#4: Part-time positions are only found in remote destinations. FALSE

Part-time work does not have to be far from home. Searching locally, you can find a hospital or clinic wanting to work with you part-time.

#5: Finding new opportunities without a staffing agency or headhunter is difficult. FALSE

It takes time and effort, but you can easily find facilities willing to work with you without having a middleman work the deal. Pick up the phone and make a call!

#6: Facilities will not provide malpractice insurance to independent physicians. FALSE

It is all about how you negotiate. Many facilities can provide independent physicians with malpractice insurance, but it must be negotiated.

#7: Facilities are not willing to pay well when contracting directly for part-time work. FALSE

Many facilities are resistant to paying part-time physicians what they are truly worth. With that said, many facilities are willing to compensate physicians fairly. It sometimes takes effort to find those facilities and good negotiating skills.

What you do with your free time is limited only by your own imagination.

Part-time is not for everyone. However, part-time clinical work can provide a fulfilling career, and you can remain dedicated to your field of study while having more time away from medicine.

American author and thought leader Andy Andrews said, “If you are doing what everyone else is doing, you are doing something wrong…because most people are not obtaining results that are considered extraordinary…and to produce results that are extraordinary – you cannot afford to think as average people think.”

As physicians, we are expected to accomplish the “extraordinary” for our patients. As independently contracted part-time physicians, perhaps we can prioritize ourselves and our families to achieve the extraordinary feat of proper work-life balance.

Subscribe Now!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Enter your email if you would like to subscribe to the FlexMedStaff newsletter.