Some of my: Inventions | Magazine interviews | Sheds | Favorite ER memories

Information for people contemplating
a career in emergency medicine and
other medical specialties

By Kevin Pezzi, MD


Medical jobs that don't require long shifts?

Some doctors do work short shifts
Docs can work short shifts

Q: I am 15 years old, and currently in grade 10. When I was 18 months old I was diagnosed with spina bifida cystica meningomyelocele. I spent the first couple years of my life in hospitals. I am healed now and live life like any other kid. Through my journey I realized that medicine is something I want to do. At first I wanted to be a neurologist but then realized my passion is for the ER. After watching plenty of medical shows, I feel like the ER is something I am interested in. I am fully aware that it will take hard work. The only concern I have is the long shifts. Is there any medical job that doesn't require long work hours?

Thank you for your time, hope to hear from you soon.


Answer by , MD: If you work in emergency medicine, you are generally required to work shifts of 8, 10, or 12 hours, all of which often stretch out to be even longer so the ER docs can complete the care of patients and their paperwork. However, as emergency departments increase in patient volume, they don't take quantum leaps in staffing needs, such as from 24 physician hours per day (one ER MD on-duty at any one time) to 32 physician hours per day (adding another 8-hour shift to have two doctors working at the busiest time). Thus, it would make more sense to jump from 24 physician hours per day to 28 by adding a 4-hour shift.

Another option is to work in an Urgent Care Center, or start your own, which would give you tremendous flexibility. You would have even more alternatives if you worked in other specialties.

Back to the main Question & Answer page