The physician part-time blues

The solution to most of my work related problems was half retirement. By leaving clinical practice and taking a less arduous administrative role, I was able to divorce myself from the worst part of doctoring. Being financially independent helped, but wouldn’t have been the complete solution. I am not ready to retire. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t also point out the downsides. The part-time blues are real and should be expected if one is ready to pull the trigger.

I’m not saying that my decision was wrong. I just think it is important for everyone to weigh the risks and benefits of such a career move.


Chief among the part-time blues is the reality that we become expendable. Nothing speaks to higher ups more than a choice to purposefully pull back. Any employer will immediately change their opinion of our commitment, or even our importance to the organization.

This has consequences. All the sudden we go from being high up on the totem pole to completely expendable. This puts us directly in the sights of any prospective downsizing. If corporate profits go down, guess whose head is on the chopping block?

It’s not only the possibility of losing our role, but the details of that role that may change. Our boss might keep us on board, but start shoveling all the crap work our way. We might be asked to cover off hours, weekends, or holidays.

When we become part-time, our leverage is gone. To our bosses, we have already flown the coop.


Most of us are used to being important at work. We spent years building up credibility and doing a great job. Because of this, we were often included in the big decisions. Given the best and sometimes hardest jobs. And treated as the go-to guy or gal.

Whether we like to admit it or not, it felt good. A portion of the part-time blues is letting go of our identity as rainmakers. Our role shifts dramatically, and it becomes time to let others glow in the spotlight.

We chose this path. Now we have to accept it.


And then there are benefits. There are tons of good things about being a full-time employee. Health care coverage is certainly one of them. Often non-full time workers are excluded from this costly benefit. We might still be making money, but then have to cough up an extra ten grand a year for insurance.

Paid vacation. Coming to terms with the part-time blues means realizing that we are no longer paid to be out of town. When we work, we make money. When we don’t, we won’t.

Yearly bonus. 401K match. Various other perks. We can kiss them all goodbye. We probably won’t qualify for them.

Final thoughts

Working part-time is the perfect solution for me. But the part-time blues are real. By making this life decision, we give up on some of the greatest benefits of full-time employment.

“DocG” is a physician who blogs at DiverseFI.

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