Do part time doctors worsen the primary care shortage?

More graduating doctors are making family and personal life a priority, and opting for part-time work.

But when primary care doctors are needed more than ever, is that contributing to the shortage?

That’s a question that Dr. Gwenn asks over at Better Health. In pediatrics specifically, more “are now opting for part time work right out of the gate, just after training or during, in their 30s. And, that more men are going part time as well as subspecialists along with the women and generalists that have been steady part timers for a while. All tolled, as of 2006, 23% of the pediatric work force was documented as part time – and growing!”

Not only are more pediatricians working part-time, but a growing number are entering non-clinical fields — recent statistics estimate the rate to be 12%.

These aren’t the type of numbers the government, which spends large sums of money to train these doctors, is hoping for.

It’s no secret why. Primary care is difficult, tedious work; made worse with the growing bureaucratic impediments obstructing patient care. Morale is low, with little hope on the horizon. Why spend more time working in this environment?

Of course, there’s no way to coerce primary care doctors to work more hours. Perhaps by improving their work conditions, however, more can be convinced of doing so.