Publicatie datum

Part-time working physicians, what does it take?

Jong, J.D. de, Heiligers, P.J.M., Hingstman, L., Groenewegen, P.P. Part-time working physicians, what does it take? European Journal of Public Health: 2004, 14(4 Suppl.) 16. Abstract. 12 th Annual EUPHA meeting: Urbanisation and health: new challenges in health promotion and prevention in Oslo, Norway, 7-9 october 2004.
Background: An increasing number of medical specialists prefer to work part-time. This development
can be found worldwide. In the Netherlands, about 12% of internists, 8% of surgeons, and 13% of
radiologists work part-time. For female physicians this is 45%, 33%, and 56% respectively. Since
there are more female than male medical students, part-time work will gain more importance in the
future. Problems faced with the realization of part-time work in medicine are the division of night
and weekend shifts, as well as communication between physicians and continuity of care. It is
thought that parttime
working physicians are less devoted to their work and this might imply that more tasks are done by
full-time working physicians. Furthermore, when working with part-time physicians meetings should
be planned at times that they can attend; the organization should be more formalized. Aim: To
determine whether part-time working specialist devote less time
to patient care in proportion to other tasks, and to study whether full-time working physicians do
proportionally more night and weekend shifts. Furthermore, we studied the reasons physicians report
for having a part-time or a full-time job, and whether there are differences between specialties,
and between partnerships. Methods: A questionnaire was sent by mail to all internists (N=817),
surgeons (N=693) and radiologist (N=585) working in general hospitals in the Netherlands. Questions
were asked about the actual situation, like hours worked and night and weekend shifts, their motives
for working full or part-time, and their ideas about part-time working. Data were analysed with
multi-level analysis to take into account
the clustering of physicians within partnerships. Results: Preliminary results show that surgeons
working part-time spend less
time than average to direct patient care. More than average time is spent on communication with
colleagues and correspondence about patients. Part-time working surgeons have proportionally less
night and weekend shifts.
Full-time working surgeons report efficiency and continuity of care as important reasons for working
full-time. Part-time working surgeons (women and older men) report time spent with family and time
for sports, relaxation and hobbies as important for their choice. It is now examined whether the
same goes for internists and radiologists. Conclusions: It seems that part-time working goes with
more communication, and therefore less time spent on patient care. Since it can be expected that in
the future more physicians prefer to work part-time, solutions have to be found for the loss of time
spent on patient care. The arrangements of night and weekend shifts also deserve attention, this is
related to continuity of care.