Attending time: That’s just a myth

One of the great myths amongst residents is that once they become attendings, they’ll have so much more free time. I’ll never work this much again, they think. This is the most time-intensive phase of life, and everything after residency is easy in comparison.

Unfortunately, they are usually wrong.

Statistically, working about the same number of hours in residency and as an attending is the norm. In one study, attendings work 59.2 hours a week on average, compared to the 61.2 hours residents work. These numbers are old, from the early 2010s, but similar time frames, and I doubt attendings have started working less since then.

The myth of attending time is similar to the myth of attending money. Residents think that once they are attendings, they’ll have tons of extra time and money. But as most attendings know, there are more demands on their money as an attending than as a resident — more taxes, more student loan repayments, more kids. There are also more demands on attending time — administrative work, research, mentoring, more kids.

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