How Prevalent is Overtime in the Healthcare Industry?

The healthcare industry is known for its demanding work schedules and long hours, leading to a high prevalence of overtime among healthcare professionals. This can be attributed to the 24/7 nature of healthcare services and the need to provide continuous care to patients, often resulting in healthcare workers working beyond their regular shifts to meet patient needs.

Here are some key factors that contribute to the prevalence of overtime.

Lack of Staff

One of the main reasons for overtime in the healthcare industry is understaffing, which can lead to increased workloads and longer hours for existing employees. Additionally, unexpected emergencies and high patient volumes can also contribute to the need for healthcare professionals to work overtime to ensure patient care is not compromised.

Physicians Put Their Patients First

a doctor smiling and talking to a patient in a hospital room

Doctors take great pride in their work, and they genuinely want to help people. They put their patients first, even if that means that they will have to work overtime. Overall, the dedication of healthcare professionals to providing quality care often results in them sacrificing their own time and well-being to ensure patients receive the necessary attention and treatment. This selflessness can contribute to the prevalence of overtime in the healthcare industry.

More Patients Than Usual

More Patients Than Usual

There may be a higher number of patients during the flu season or when a pandemic breaks out. We saw record numbers of patients being treated when COVID-19 was at its worst. This influx of patients can put additional strain on healthcare professionals, leading to longer hours and increased overtime.

Emergencies and Unforeseeable Events

ealistic image of a medical team rushing to attend to an emergency patient

In the event of a natural disaster or a mass tragedy, a sudden surge in patients can be expected. These unforeseen events can overwhelm healthcare facilities and require staff to work extra hours to meet the increased demand for care. Contingency plans are an important aspect of healthcare organizations to have in order to address these situations and support their staff during times of crisis.

The Doctor Is a Specialist

A specialized doctor is performing a complex procedure

If the doctor works in a specialized field, such as cardiologist, allergist, or a dermatologist, they may be overwhelmed with patients, as in their respective hospital, there may be a shortage of staff that is trained in the same area. If there is a high demand for their expertise, there is a good chance that they will have to work overtime.


A doctor using a medical scribe device or software to document patient information

Physicians, on average, only spend 27% of their time with patients. The rest is spent on documenting diagnoses and prescriptions. This is why hiring a medical scribe who has partnered with a reputable medical scribe company can be a life changer, as the scribe will take over the documentation, and the physician can focus solely on caring for and treating their patients.

Other Healthcare Professionals May Quit Or Call Out

Overtime might be imminent when other healthcare professionals are sick, or leave the practice on short notice. This can put additional strain on the remaining staff. It is crucial for healthcare practices to have a plan in place for unexpected absences to ensure continuity of care for patients.

Poor Scheduling

If there are issues in the administrative sector of the hospital, the staff may be required to stay longer hours as a direct result of that.


The healthcare industry’s demanding work schedules and long hours result in a high prevalence of overtime among professionals. This is due to the 24/7 nature of services and the need to provide continuous patient care, often resulting in workers working beyond their regular shifts. It’s important for everyone in the industry to do their best to streamline services and optimize in order to avoid the biggest threat to the healthcare industry: burnout.

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