As a Physical Therapist, I work four, ten-hour day starting at 8AM and ending at 6:30 PM. My day off is Friday, which is not common, but actually works out well for my patients.
As an outpatient PT, I typically see patients two times a week, unless they absolutely need three visits that week. So working four longer days allows me to schedule patients on a Monday/Wednesday or a Tuesday/Thursday interval.
Physical Therapist Hours: Outpatient Clinic vs. Home Health
In a clinic, you’ll find a wide range of hours, which can make for a long day. If you’re considering the career of a Physical Therapist because they have ‘banker’s hours’, think again. Most full time PTs work at least 40 hours a week and spend extra time doing notes at the clinic or at home if their clinic allows.
Outpatient therapy clinics are notorious for having long hours. If you’re looking for a more flexible option with typically shorter days, the home health setting might be an option to consider.
While the hours can vary depending on your clients, many home health therapists start their first patient around 8 or 9AM and end the day around 3 or 4PM. There is a good amount of flexibility with home health jobs because many home health therapists choose how many patients they want to see for the day/week. It’s possible to see only a few patients in a day and to be done with patients by noon. Of course, if you are paid based on the number of patients you see, you’ll need to take that into consideration.
Should I Work 4 10-hour days or 5 8-hour days?
Here are a few things to consider when thinking through your options for your therapy hours.
Location & Travel
Working 4 10-hour days cuts back a full day of travel to the clinic. If it takes you 30 minutes to get ready in the morning and 20 minutes in traffic each way, you’ll save roughly an hour each week because you’ve consolidated your travel into 4 days instead of 5. Based on simple math, you’ll save 20% in fuel for transportation to and from work. Not a bad savings at all! If you’re considering a clinic that is a little more of a drive, a 4-10 hour day might be a nice time saver for you to consider.
Childcare & Family Setup
If you need to work full time, but have to see the kids off to school in the morning at 8 AM, then starting at 9 and working an 8-hour shift could provide you the flexibility you need to take care of your family needs.
Second Job or Travel
It’s not uncommon for a therapist to work an extra job to help pay down their massive student loans. If you need to work a weekend job, you might enjoy working 4 10-hour days throughout the week to free up extra time off. Whether you use that day to rest or as an extra day for your second job, the 4 10-hour day schedule gives you this option.
Flexible 8-Hour Days
Some therapists enjoy a variable schedule that allows them to come in early 2 or 3 days a week so they can leave by 3 or 4 PM. While many therapists work a standard 9 to 5 schedule, some might enjoy a 7 to 3 schedule on MWF, and 9 to 5 schedule on T/Th. This might be important for you, especially if you need to be home by a certain time on specific days of the week.
Do Physical Therapists work on the Weekends?
It’s not common for an outpatient therapy clinic to be open on a weekend, but if they do have Saturday hours, you can expect to rotate with other therapists to cover that day.
If you are working at a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or in a home health setting, they will likely need someone to cover a weekend shift. Many hospitals and home health groups hire people specifically for the weekend. But, if they’re shorthanded, it’s possible that you’ll be called on to cover.
How to Negotiate a 4 Day Workweek
If you like the idea of working 4 10-hour days, consider presenting it to your employer when they make an offer. Of course, it’s also possible to make the change at your current employer if you approach it correctly.
Focus on how working 4 10-hour days will benefit the employer and the patients. Consider these points:
1. Extended Hours for the Clinic & Patients
Working a 10-hour day might allow the clinic to capture patients who would otherwise not have the ability to make it to the normally scheduled business hours.
2. Increased Job Satisfaction and Lower Turnover
By proposing a schedule that works for you and meets the needs of your family, you’re more likely to have higher job satisfaction and stay with your employer. It might also be an attractive benefit for other PTs who would be a great addition to the team.
3. A Significant Job Perk with Zero Cost
There really isn’t any extra cost to the employer to allow someone the ability to work 4 10-hour days, especially if the production stays the same and patients are filling the schedule. For the employee, it may seem like a significant job perk to work 4 longer days and to have an entire day off. For the employer, it costs nothing for this job perk and might be a great way to incentivize therapists to stay.
Do you work 4 10-hour days a week? If so, tell us how you like the setup?