As a physician recruiter, I have the privilege of speaking with hospitalists daily. Many of these hospitalists are graduating residents who are new to the job search and others are experienced hospitalists looking for a career change. In either case, a work/life balance is often the most important factor to them.

Inevitably, this topic of conversation is to be expected because of the number of hospitalist groups, and each program has to accommodate their respected groups to provide the best coverage and quality for the patients and the facilities. One of the first questions that I am asked when discussing hospitalist jobs with potential candidates is “What is the schedule?” For many, this is the most important question to determine if the position is going to be a potential fit. The following are 3 examples of hospitalist schedules that you might encounter.

1.    7 Days On and 7 Days Off:

Also known as block scheduling, the 7 days on and 7 days off schedule, works out for some hospitalists.

The benefit of a block schedule is that the hospitalists get to enjoy predictability. This element of predictability regarding their work shifts; lets them plan out a reasonable lifestyle. As work life balance is a much sought luxury, some hospitalists opt for a schedule which lets them enjoy their passion for work, and also enables them to enjoy their other interests in life, with complete balance.

Regular shift schedules ensure specific timings for hospitalists. It also ensures that the staff is aware of who to refer to in case of a patient emergency. The hospitalist on duty is responsible for the welfare of the patients, as he works according to his traditional work schedule.

Working in shifts ensures that all patient admissions are taken care of, which has been reported to bring about a positive change in the duration of stay, for all COPD patients.

In a block or 7 days on and off schedule, predictability and a reasonable lifestyle, are the important benefits for a hospitalist.

2.    Monday to Friday – A Traditional Schedule:

This schedule also works out for some hospitalists but is not very popular. The reason for this is that it offers less free time compared to the 7×7 schedule model.

The core team is required to be on site everyday, which, though being good for the healthcare facility and the patients, is a major issue for most hospitalists. Although hospitalists prefer other schedule models which offer them more relaxing time, the traditional schedule ensures that fewer number of patient handoffs happen, which is good for a healthcare facility or hospital.

3.    Hybrid/ Flex Schedule:

A hybrid or flex schedule has grown by 8% in the industry. It includes a combination of call only, along with a shift based schedule, which is arranged to ensure a hybrid work schedule, which might suit a certain group of hospitalists.

Hybrid schedules are a great option for hospitalists, if the aim of the healthcare facility is to ensure the growth of their program. The hybrid schedule ensures that hospitalists are available on call and on shifts, whenever needed. This ensures convenience for both hospitalists and the healthcare facilities.

Hybrid schedules let healthcare facilities regulate shifts according to the need of the patients, thus giving much needed rest to hospitalists while optimizing their services.

Opt for a hospitalist schedule which meets your needs, preferences and lifestyle, as all three are great options to choose from.