How Long Do Doctors Work? The Truth Revealed!

The life of a doctor is often viewed as one of the most prestigious and demanding professions in the world. They are in charge of taking care of patients, saving lives, and often work long hours. However, the number of hours that doctors work can vary according to several factors. This article aims to reveal the truth about how long doctors work.

Working Hours for Doctors

Doctors’ working hours vary considerably, depending on the type of doctor they are and the setting they are working in. Some doctors work fewer hours while others work long hours with few days off. According to a study conducted by the American Medical Association, the average number of hours worked by a physician in the US is around 51 hours a week. However, doctors who work in hospitals often work longer hours as they are required to be available 24/7.

General Practitioners (GPs)

General practitioners, also known as family physicians, usually work regular office hours. They work for about 8 to 10 hours on weekdays, and some may also work for a few hours on Saturdays. In some cases, they may also be on call, meaning that they need to be available in emergencies.


Surgeons may also work long hours, depending on the type of surgery and the complexity of the procedure. Surgeons can work anywhere between 50 to 60 hours a week or more. Some surgeons may also be required to work in the evening or on weekends to complete surgeries.

Medical Residents

Medical residents are doctors who are in the process of completing their training. They often work very long hours, ranging from 80 to 100 hours a week, as they need to balance clinical work, academics, and patient care. The long hours are often required to satisfy the required residency program and certification process.

Medical Specialists

Medical specialists work in various sub-specialties of medicine, such as cardiology, gastroenterology, and endocrinology. They can work anywhere between 50 to 110 hours a week, depending on their field of specialization.

The Impact of Long Hours on Doctors

Long working hours can take a toll on anyone, and doctors are no exception. Doctors work in a high-stress environment and are at risk of experiencing burnout, stress, and fatigue. A survey conducted by the American Medical Association reported that physicians who work extended hours have an increased risk of making errors in patient care.

Doctors who work long hours may also have less time for self-care activities such as exercise, sleep, and relaxation. This can lead to obesity, sleep deprivation, and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

The Future of Working Hours for Doctors

Many hospitals and practices are beginning to realize the importance of a healthy work-life balance for doctors. It is becoming more common for hospitals to implement policies and procedures that help to reduce working hours and promote a healthy workplace culture. Various regulatory commissions are enforcing strict rules on maintaining maximum working hours to reduce physician fatigue and burnout while protecting patient safety.


Doctors work long hours in a profession that can be both rewarding and challenging. Despite the long hours, many doctors continue to work with dedication and passion to care for patients. It is important to recognize the hard work that doctors put in and to support initiatives that promote a healthy work-life balance for physicians.

FAQs About How Long Do Doctors Work

  • Q: Do all doctors work long hours?

    A: No, doctors’ working hours vary by specialty and work setting.
  • Q: Can working long hours affect a doctor’s health?

    A: Yes, working long hours can have a negative impact on a doctor’s health and well-being.
  • Q: Are there any regulations that limit how long doctors can work?

    A: Yes, several regulatory commissions enforce strict rules on working hours for doctors to prevent physician fatigue, burnout and protect patient safety.
  • Q: Do medical residents work longer hours compared to medical specialists?

    A: Yes, medical residents tend to work longer hours as they need to balance academic, clinical work, and patient care.
  • Q: How can hospitals promote a better work-life balance for doctors?

    A: Hospitals can implement policies such as hiring more staff or introducing flexible working hours, providing assistance, and reducing on-call duty.


American Medical Association. (2004). Long Work Hours and Resident Fatigue. JAMA: The Journal Of The American Medical Association, 292(9), 1088.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (2008). The Effects of Long Working Hours on Fatigue, Work Ability and Quality of Life in Physicians. Occupational And Environmental Medicine, 65(9), 565.

Association of American Medical College. (n.d.). Duty Hours. Retrieved 16 October 2021, from

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