Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Part time vs. full time

If you are a patient, you are a patient 24 hours a day. Your doctor works 8, 10, 12 hours a day, more or less. This leaves you with no way to contact your doctor for 12-16 hours a day - never mind weekends. And now, heavens above, doctors want to work part time? What is the craziness? Maybe they are looking for work/life balance and a bit of sanity. Well, some people have a problem with this.

In general, more women and men are working part time while their children are young so they can be parents. So why shouldn't doctors? I don't see a problem with this - a doctor who is trying to be a professional and a parent who is allowed some flexibility in their schedule might actually be less stressed and more able to focus on the patient's needs.

My oncologist is just back from maternity leave. While she was out, I met with her nurse practitioner, who is now out on maternity leave herself. At my appointment, there was an issue and she consulted with my primary care immediately so there were no questions.

When I need to see my primary care for an issue that day, often she can't fit me in, but since she is in a group, I can see another doctor in the same group for prompt care. If there is an issue after hours, there is always an on-call physician so I can be a patient 24/7. (Personally I try to avoid on-call physicians because they often say 'you need to go to the ER' and I will not ever go to an ER again unless I am dripping blood and if I don't hear them say that I can safely ignore the instructions.)

Back in the days of the family doctor who made house calls and was available 24/7 for their patients, doctors were independent and you just had to wait until they were available or go elsewhere for care. (Did they ever get vacations?) Now modern medicine is developing a group practice so doctors can be human beings and see their families, be parents, and have lives outside the hospital.

I think a part time doctor is just fine. I just wish I could be a part time patient too and be healthy some of the time.

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