If a flexible schedule is important to you now or will be in the future, you need to address it when you interview for a prospective position. It can be a delicate topic, and it’s one you should address with forethought and humility.
Ask about flexible scheduling
First, find out in advance whether the practice is open to flexible scheduling. Working locums at the practice or asking physicians who know the practice can add to your knowledge, as does a little research into additional open positions. The practice’s general policies also can be clues. “The practice manager might be able to answer questions about practice benefits, such as CME allowance, medical and family leave or call policies,” says Farzanna Haffizulla, M.D. She tells the medical students and residents she works with to begin thinking about work arrangements from the minute they set foot into medical school.
Haffizulla also prepares questions to help physicians who want to ask about flexible schedules. She admits that asking about flexible work arrangements can trigger concerns regarding how hard the new physician will work. “But it is really important to get that information,” she says.
Work life balance as a doctor
Mark Puglisi, M.D., says he perceived there might be more push-back for him–a single man who wanted to work a nontraditional schedule. And he recognizes that the perception would be even stronger for those who are right out of residency. “If you walk in there with expectations, with an attitude, they probably won’t hire you,” he says. Humility and a cooperative approach go a long way.
David Ross, D.O., advises finding out all you can ahead of time by e-mailing the group leader to determine whether a part-time or flexible position is possible. Applicants who have done their homework well before the interview can broach the subject of flexible work arrangements in general by asking about the practice’s emphasis on work/life balance and the practice philosophy. Puglisi says that the medical director of his group “offered up that we value work/life balance.”
When the schedule a physician wants doesn’t align with the advertised position, it’s probably best to move on, or to do the type of homework mentioned above.
The practice might consider a future flexible arrangement. Recruiter Tiffanie Davis says, “Some practices have more flexibility than others to accommodate unique scheduling requests, so it is best to bring it up early so the physician knows right away whether the practice opportunity will really meet their needs.”