Are Your Work Hours Totaling Up?
recent poll suggests diversity in optometry,
especially in hours worked.
THE EXECUTIVE EDITOR Jim Thomas
Optometric Management "Quick Poll" shows that 50% of optometrists report
working from 36 to 45 hours in a typical week. About 20% work 46 or more hours and
the remaining 30% work 35 or fewer hours.
Before we go further, let me insert this disclaimer:
The "Quick Poll" is a survey that resides on OM's Website (www.optometric.com),
so any Web surfer can visit the site and participate in the poll. While the poll
wouldn't hold up under the scrutiny of statisticians, I think the poll's 280 responses
provide a valid snapshot of optometrist's work hours.
A new, diverse workforce
I didn't initially expect to see that 30%
of the O.D.s work 35 or fewer hours per week. (Fifteen percent work 30 or fewer
hours.) But in recent years, demographics in optometry have changed. The traditional
two-parent, single "bread-winner" household has given way to flexible schedules
and unique work arrangements that allow optometrists more time to raise a family
and manage a household. This trend supports the survey's finding that a large percentage
of optometrists work less than 40 hours a week.
When we consider flexible arrangements
and factor in climbing student debt, we have to ask, how will private practice be
impacted? A starting point can be found in the article, "Student Debt and Optometric
Practice," which begins on page 85 of this issue.
According to the OM survey, 40% of optometrists
work 41 or more hours per week, which breaks down to 41-45 hours (20%), 46-50 hours
(9.5%) and more than 50 hours (10.5%).
There are a few reasons for long hours.
It's not unusual to work for a second or even a third practice to
pay student loans. Still, other O.D.s will work the extra hours to save for a private
A third group of optometrists work
beyond the average number of hours managing their practices. This is a positive
situation for doctors exploiting new opportunities. However, when a doc works extra
hours just to keep up, and realizes no additional benefits, it becomes a situation
in dire need of a solution.
Here we can use your help. If you've
ever faced a management situation where you were overworked and stressed, email
me (thomasjj@ lwwvisioncare.com) and let me know the steps you took to break out.
We'll publish your answers in an upcoming issue.
Optometric Management, Issue: November 2006