Coda: Is a sabbatical uniquely valuable for hospitalists?
I think a sabbatical might be a good idea for hospitalists. It also seems practical for other doctors, such as radiologists, anesthesiologists, and ED doctors, who don’t have 1:1 continuity relationships with patients. However, it is problematic for primary care doctors and specialists who need to maintain continuity relationships with patients and referring doctors that could be disrupted by a lengthy absence.
I’m not sure a sabbatical would reduce burnout much on its own, but, if properly structured, it seems very likely to reduce staffing turnover, and the sabbatical could be spent in ways that help rejuvenate interest and satisfaction in our work rather than simply taking a long vacation to travel and play golf, etc. It should probably be at least 3 months and better if it lasts a year. A common arrangement is that a doctor becomes eligible for the sabbatical after 10 years and is paid half of her usual compensation while away. I’d like to see more hospitalist groups do this.
Dr. Nelson has had a career in clinical practice as a hospitalist starting in 1988. He is cofounder and past president of SHM and principal in Nelson Flores Hospital Medicine Consultants. He is codirector for SHM’s practice management courses. Write to [email protected].
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