What You Should Know About Becoming a Part-Time Physician

Could part-time or Per Diem work be the answer to achieving work-life balance? Our recruiter shares why more providers are considering these options.


Has working full-time lost its appeal? If so, you’re not alone.

A recent Medscape survey found that 22% of doctors have considered leaving their careers in favor of a nonclinical position, with many pointing to a desire to work fewer hours.

But you don’t have to leave medicine or clinical care to land part-time work. Many employers are open to discussing reduced workloads, and others are hiring specifically for part-time positions.

For example, Provider Solutions & Development (PS&D) is recruiting for dozens of part-time or Per Diem providers.

PS&D Senior Provider Recruiter Sarah Ledbetter says a shift has taken place in how physicians think about work hours, particularly as it relates to physician burnout, a long-standing issue that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarah has worked with brand new providers who want to get ahead of physician burnout by starting with a lower workload right after residency. She’s also helped find part-time positions for mid-career physicians and those nearing retirement — many of whom switch to part-time before retiring.

“Things have changed over the years. It’s no longer unusual for providers to work less than full-time at any career stage,” Sarah says. “Reduced work hours and improved work-life balance make for a satisfying experience, and that’s something that most health systems are now offering.”

Whether you’re new to medicine, in the middle of your career or closing in on that retirement date, there are things you should know as you consider going part-time or working Per Diem.

“Reduced work hours and improved work-life balance make for a satisfying experience, and that’s something that most health systems are now offering.”

~ PS&D Senior Provider Recruiter Sarah Ledbetter

The Difference Between Part-Time and Per Diem Physician Work

Physician work time is typically measured by dividing the number of hours worked by the hours an employer considers a full-time work week. This calculation produces a number called a full-time equivalent, or FTE. An FTE of 1.0 is deemed to be full-time.

Part-Time Physician

Physicians who work less than 1.0 FTE are generally considered part-time providers. Part-time physicians are usually scheduled for guaranteed hours. When it comes to healthcare benefits, part-time providers may be responsible for paying a higher premium compared to full-time providers. They may have shorter workdays or work fewer days per week. Benefits eligibility varies from organization to organization, and some benefits, such as paid time away or continuing medical education (CME), may be pro-rated.

Per Diem Physician

Per Diem, or Latin for “per day,” is a type of part-time work. Per Diem physicians are considered “as-needed workers.” These providers may cover for physicians on vacation or medical leave. They may also fill regular weekend call coverage. Per Diem physicians don’t have guaranteed hours because they are employees on an at-will contract. You might see these listed as flexible, freelance or 1099 postings.

“Per Diem work allows for the most flexibility in terms of scheduling, but it requires less of a formal commitment than an employed part-time provider,” Sarah says. “Hours aren’t necessarily guaranteed.”

Sarah says that for physicians considering Per Diem work, communication with the hiring team is important for setting expectations.

What to Consider When Going Part-Time

Compensation

Part-time physician work will come with pro-rated pay. But lower pay is not a deterrent for many. Medscape’s 2022 Lifestyle & Happiness Report found that 55% of physicians would consider a salary reduction if it meant improved work-life balance. Just make sure you understand and accept the financial ramifications of making the switch to part-time. (Head over to our GME Lounge for a primer on production-based pay.)

Benefits

Not all part-time positions are benefits-eligible. Others offer reduced or pro-rated benefits. Each employer is different. Be sure to ask how going part-time will impact your healthcare benefits, paid time off and CME.

Flexibility

Part-time work offers greater flexibility. But some positions may require you to work specific days and times. Think about how much you wish to work and discuss this with your employer.

How Recruiters Can Help You Find Your Ideal Part-Time Job

When it comes to finding the part-time job of your dreams, Sarah says the best thing to do is identify a position and then ask for what you want.

“If you see a job you really want, but it’s full-time, don’t give up! Some hiring teams have the flexibility to consider reducing hours, and if you have a good recruiter, they can go to bat for you,” Sarah says.

“Especially in the past few years, I’ve had more and more providers asking me if I can get them a .8 or .6 schedule on a job that was listed as full-time. I will then negotiate on their behalf, and many times, I’m successful in getting them the schedule they want.”

Sarah also suggests candidates include their desired schedule in their cover letter. (See PS&D’s article, "Writing an Effective Physician Cover Letter - Sample Included.”)

“Highlighting your skillset and career interest, along with your ideal schedule or FTE, lets a recruiter know what you’re looking for,” Sarah says. “It also allows them the chance to advocate for you and encourage their hiring team to consider various possibilities.”

Take the Next Step: Contact PS&D Today

At PS&D, our team is uniquely equipped to help you find or create the opportunity that fits your desired lifestyle.

“We are a close-knit team, and we recruit nationally. We’re constantly in conversations with each other about opportunities,” Sarah says. “If we hear from a candidate about something they’re looking for, we have the reach to help them find happiness and satisfaction in their work.”

We have hundreds of full and part-time practice opportunities nationwide. Reach out today to get started.

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