Last week MD Linx published an article entitled “Work-life balance: Will physicians ever find it?” It provided a fascinating comparison between the productive hours of the “average workday” and 40 hour workweek and those of a physician. According to the survey they quoted, the average workday for the average employee equates to only 2.8 hours of “productive tasks.”
Of course those of a physician were huge in comparison, starting with the fact that few physicians I know work a 40 hour week. An interesting comparison was also made about emotional exhaustion and burnout; physicians are affected by this almost twice as much as ordinary workers.
One of the expectations of physicians, as quoted, was that they have the expectation they will “successfully run a practice” including seeing patients, rounding, be on-call, deal with EHR documentation and handle CME requirements. And this list doesn’t include everything, of course. A great point is made that many factors can determine whether or not physicians can handle all of this, and be productive, given the constant distractions and change in workflow.
If those occur, it will take more work time to get everything done, and that means elongated office hours, eating into personal time. The article stresses that this situation can become endemic and destroy any concept of work-like balance.
The article goes onto list 12 “time wasters” that physicians should attempt to corral. This was an interesting list and as I thought about it some of these distractions are the kind of thing new employed residents and fellows should ask about as they evaluate job opportunities that they see in their final year.
As it pertains to physicians about to enter practice, regardless of whether it’s as an employee or venturing into private practice, here were the most contentious listed and that I have seen. These will have a direct impact on the success (i.e., effective use of time) of, as the article says, successfully running a new practice:
More importantly, they will impact the attitude of the physician, and work against the excitement and energy young physicians bring to their first practice. And that might be more harmful than anything. ---TOM ELLIS
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