If joining an established practice, work hours are set by the practice, based on negotiations at the time of contracting. If taking over an established practice, the community will likely expect the practice to continue the same hours or to expand them—reducing them from the outset would likely have a negative marketing effect.
Most pediatricians go into practice with the idea of balancing work and family time. Ideally speaking, the decision about office hours should be part of a market analysis, done as the first step in assessing and selecting the community and location in which to practice, not after commitments have been made on practice location and space. Quality of care provided, bed-side manner, and availability are major determinants in the practice’s success.
Here are some things to consider:
- The style of practice desired, and if you have a family, what your family can accept: It is critical that the family unit have appropriate expectations, a full understanding of what is being undertaken, and a realistic estimate of the effort needed to succeed.
- Competition in the surrounding community: If there are no other pediatricians in your community, there may be more flexibility in how hours are set. On the other hand, this might not be possible in highly competitive areas. That might mean expanded hours or night, evening, and weekend hours, which would require more work time.
- The resources that exist for coverage: What type of coverage options exist, and are there some mutually beneficial coverage arrangements that can be made?
- What are the community resources? Are there local retail-based clinics, urgent care centers, or after-hours centers? Do they see children? Are cooperative working agreements possible?
- Understand the community needs—socioeconomic, prior health care availability, customs, and traditions.