Going Part Time?

By Sheng Wang
For MedHunters

going part time

Part-time work offers several advantages, such as the ability to spend more time with your family, establish your desired work-life balance, pursue other interests, and transition into retirement.

After assessing the benefits and drawbacks, only you can decide if part-time work is right for you.

A significant portion of the health care workforce is made up of part-time employees. According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, 21% of registered nurses worked part-time in 2006, and eight percent of physicians and surgeons worked part-time in the same time period.

If you are thinking about joining the ranks of the part-timers, you may want to consider some things before you decide:

  • Do you want to work part-time for a set period, indefinitely, or would you prefer to take a wait-and-see approach?
  • Can you keep your current job and cut back on your hours, or do you need to look for a new position? If your current job cannot accommodate part-time hours, you may need to switch work environments (e.g., from a small clinic to a large hospital). You can also consider switching careers entirely, and transfer your experience to consulting, writing, or other fields.
  • If you're keeping your current job, make your transition to part-time status as painless as possible for your employer. Arrange your schedule so that it will be easier for your institution or practice to hire a replacement on your days off, and let your supervisor know when, and if, you plan to return to full-time work.
  • The schedule you work can be just as important as the hours you work. Some hospitals offer nurses four- to six-hour "parent shifts" that end in the early afternoon, and are ideal for employees with young children. If stable hours are a top priority for you, look for positions that do not involve rotational shifts or on-call duties. If you're willing to be flexible, consider working weekends and nights for additional income.
  • Per diem work is also an option for some professions, especially RNs. The hourly pay rate is generally higher, but there are no benefits. Although there is no contractual guarantee of work—among RNs at least—there's usually little difficulty in getting hours due to high demand.
  • Some employers may also offer the Baylor or weekend alternative plan (again, particularly to RNs), in which eligible staff are paid 40 hours of their basic hourly rate for working two 12-hour shifts each weekend.
  • Part-time work generally means decreased income, fewer or no health care benefits, less or no paid vacation time, and fewer or no sick days. An article published in 2005 by The Commonwealth Fund reported that in 2001, only 21% of nonstandard workers (part-time, temporary, and contract workers) had health insurance through work, compared to 74% of Americans who worked standard hours. Local labor legislation and individual employers may have their own regulations concerning benefits for part-time workers. You may also try to negotiate benefits.
  • Since you will probably be experiencing a pay cut, make sure that you will have enough income to meet your financial needs, including health insurance and retirement savings that may no longer be provided by your employer. You may also need to adjust your spending habits and lifestyle to make ends meet. Try to have enough money saved to cover three months of living expenses before you switch to part-time hours or start looking for new work.
  • Consider how working part-time will affect your long-term career plan and life goals. Your opportunities for promotions and raises may be limited as a part-time employee. And if you were to accept a promotion, it may mean that you have to return to full-time work. However, if family or other commitments outside of work are your top priority, then advancing more slowly up the career ladder may be a reasonable tradeoff.

After assessing the benefits and drawbacks, only you can decide if part-time work is right for you.

Looking to recruit a new rheumatologist or rheumatology health professional? Target your recruitment efforts with the ACR CareerConnection. The ACR CareerConnection is the ACR’s online job board designed to meet the needs of both job seekers and employers. CareerConnection is free to job seekers searching for opportunities in the field of rheumatology. Employers can target their recruitment efforts with a cost-effective and easy-to-use system. Benefits include access to a nationwide market of qualified rheumatology candidates, a résumé alert feature that automatically delivers email notices when potential candidates have posted a résumé, making it easier to find qualified candidates, and a job alert feature that instantly notifies candidates of your newly posted employment opportunities.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. The ACR is not responsible for any career decisions made by those consulting this article.

© 2015 American College of Rheumatology