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Part-time doctors report less burnout, greater satisfaction, and more work control than full-time physicians

In the search for greater job flexibility and work-home balance, many physicians, especially women, are choosing to work part-time. These part-time doctors report less burnout, greater satisfaction, and more work control than their full-time colleagues, concludes a new study.

Both part- and full-time physicians have comparable perceptions of organizational culture and report similar patient satisfaction and trust. By promoting and enhancing part-time medical careers, organizations may be able to attract and retain a cadre of satisfied, healthy, capable, and connected physicians, suggest the study authors. They surveyed generalist physicians in the upper Midwest and New York City about their work stress and satisfaction and surveyed their patients about trust in and satisfaction with their physician. Nearly 1 in 5 of the 422 doctors who responded to the survey reported part-time status (31 percent of women, 8 percent of men).

Part-time doctors reported less burnout, higher satisfaction, and greater work control than full-time doctors. Intent to leave and assessments of organizational climate were similar between part- and full-time doctors. Organizational climate included alignment between physician values and leadership, sense of trust or belonging, practice emphasis on information systems and communication, and other factors. The survey of 1,795 patients revealed no significant differences in satisfaction with and trust in part-time and full-time physicians.

Part-time physicians, who were more likely to be white (94 vs. 74 percent) and female (77 vs. 37 percent), spent proportionately less time than full-time physicians seeing hospitalized patients (10 vs. 14 percent) and more time in teaching and research (10 vs. 6 percent). The study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS11955).

See "Part-time physicians . . . prevalent, connected, and satisfied," by Hilit F. Mechaber, M.D., Rachel B. Levine, M.D., M.P.H., Linda Baier Manwell, M.S., and others, in the March 2008 Journal of General Internal Medicine 23(3), pp. 300-303.

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