How much vacation time do doctors get? Let’s break down what is considered time off and then what is normal. First, I find that many people lump everything into vacation, meaning just any time away from work. No one lumps it like that. It’s generally thought of as paid time off or PTO. And then there are four things that go into paid time off. You do have vacation time, you have sick days, you have holidays, and then you have continuing medical education. Those four things all go into the pot for paid time off. And then that determines how much time off you get.
Do Doctors Get Vacation?
Doctors, like other professionals, are entitled to vacation time as part of their employment package. The amount of vacation time a doctor receives can vary based on factors such as the medical specialty, practice setting, and experience level. On average, doctors can expect to receive between two and six weeks of paid time off per year, with more experienced physicians generally receiving more vacation days. In addition to vacation time, doctors may also be entitled to paid time off for holidays, continuing medical education (CME) days, and personal or family-related events. It is important to note that the availability and scheduling of vacation time for doctors may be subject to factors such as patient demands, staffing coverage, and practice needs.
Doctor Vacation Time
Doctor vacation time can vary based on factors such as specialty, practice setting, and experience level. Although the Medscape Physician Lifestyle & Happiness Report indicates that nearly one-third of physicians take no more than two weeks of vacation per year, most employment contracts generally allow for between 5 and 7 weeks of annual paid time off. This discrepancy may be attributed to factors such as workload, patient demands, and scheduling constraints within the practice. It is essential for physicians to balance their professional commitments with personal well-being, as taking adequate time off can contribute to improved job satisfaction, reduced burnout, and better overall health. Consequently, doctors should strive to utilize their vacation time to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Normal Amount of Vacation Time Physicians Should Receive
The average physician gets around 30 days of total time off. So, when you add up, let’s just say a normal amount would be 15 days of vacation and five sick days. Now, many states have actual laws in place that dictate how many sick days an individual can get. I would check into that prior to figuring out how much actual time off you get. You’ll usually get somewhere between three to five days for CME and around seven to eight federal holidays. It depends upon the office and then also the call responsibilities of the physician. And this is specialty-dependent, so when I say the average amount, I’m just taking the average amount across all specialties, around 30 days.
If you’re getting less than that, it’s probably not enough. And certainly, if you’re getting 20 days, that’s well below average if you add everything up. Now, there are some specialties that get a significant amount of more than 30 days. Radiology and anesthesiology, for whatever reason, tend to get much more. Obviously, if you’re doing shift work, so if you’re in the ED or a hospitalist, many of you won’t get any time off. So, if you’re seven-on/seven-off, your time off is the week that you have off, and you’re not going to get any additional paid time off. However, I have seen recently, which I’ve never seen before, a few hospitalist jobs that are offering paid time off in addition to the time off that they get, which I think is abnormal but obviously great for the hospitalist.
What to Do if A Physician is Offered a Substandard Amount of Paid Time Off (PTO)?
What do you do if you’re being offered a substandard amount of paid time off? First, you need to go to them and say, look, the industry averages are these, and you’re giving me this, and it’s not enough. You also must consider, as I said before, what your call responsibilities and expectations are. If you’re on call for 75% of the holidays, that’s not true time off. Do you get the day off after you take the call? Sometimes that’s not in the contract, and it should be spelled out. As far as vacation time, I find that most of the larger hospitals and hospital networks have a generous time off policy, and they are not going to bend on that. It’s the same for all the physicians, and you’re going to get what they offer. The room for negotiation is the smaller physician-owned practices.
Those are also the organizations that tend to try to screw over the physician. So, let’s just say you’re just coming out of residency or fellowship. They may say, well, this is your first year, so you only get five days of vacation or something like that. You’re going to be completely burned out. Your compensation structure will also determine how much time off you want to take. If you’re on an income guarantee, say you’re making $250,000 a year, and it has no productivity incentives tied to it at all, well, the more time off you take, the better.
Take Much Time Off as You Can
Your compensation is not going to be affected in any way. So, you might as well get as much time off as you can. If you’re being paid purely on production, such as RVUs or net collections, then you have to take into account, well, every day I’m out of the office is the day I’m not making money. You’re going to have to, I guess, determine the point of, alright, I need at least this much time off to keep saving, but I also need to work this much to make the amount that I want. Those are some things to think about as well. So, that’s how much time off a normal physician gets per year.
What is Paid Time Off?
Paid Time Off (PTO) refers to the amount of time a person has for taking off from work without being penalized. This typically includes vacations, holidays, and sick days. Physician PTO policies vary greatly as they are determined by employer discretion and union agreements which are a key part of the benefits package.
Key Factors That All Physician PTO Policies Should Include
There are some key factors that all physician PTO policies should include: how much paid time off you get per year; what happens when you take a day or more of your paid time off; what happens if you’re using up your allotted days then go on vacation; and whether or not unused days carry over into other years.
Differences Between Private Practice vs. Hospital Employment
Most larger hospital network employers will offer accrual-based PTO. Meaning the physician does not receive a chunk of paid time off at the beginning of each contract year; they accrue a set amount each pay period. Private practice employers generally give time off without accrual factored in.
What Factors Are Counted in PTO?
- Vacation: Hospitals and health networks generally offer more vacation (15) than smaller physician owned groups (10).
- Sick Days: Many times, this amount is mandated by State law.
- Holidays: Some organizations observe different holidays than others.
- Continuing Medical Education: Most employers give between 3-5 days off for CME participation.