How Many Days Do Doctors Get Off?

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The demanding nature of a doctor's job is well-known, often characterized by long hours, high stress, and immense responsibility. However, just like any other profession, doctors also need time off to rest, recuperate, and spend time with their families. The amount of time off a doctor gets can vary widely based on several factors, including their specialty, the type of healthcare facility they work in, and their level of experience. In this blog, we will explore the typical time off that doctors receive, the factors that influence it, and why taking time off is crucial for their well-being.

Understanding the Factors Influencing Doctors' Time Off


Different medical specialties have different demands and schedules, which significantly influence the amount of time off a doctor gets. For example:

  • Surgeons: Often have irregular hours and may be on call frequently, leading to fewer regular days off.
  • Primary Care Physicians: Generally have more predictable schedules, allowing for more regular time off.
  • Hospitalists: Typically work in shifts, which can include several days off in a row after a series of intense workdays.

Type of Employment

The type of healthcare facility or the nature of a doctor's employment also affects their time off:

  • Hospital-employed Doctors: Often have structured time-off policies, which can include paid time off (PTO) and scheduled vacations.
  • Private Practice: Doctors in private practice may have more flexibility in scheduling their time off, but it might be harder to take extended vacations due to patient care responsibilities.
  • Academic Institutions: Doctors working in academic settings might have a different structure for time off, often coinciding with academic calendars.

Experience Level

A doctor's level of experience and seniority can also play a role in the amount of time off they receive:

  • Residents and Fellows: Typically have very demanding schedules with limited time off due to the intense training requirements.
  • Attending Physicians: More experienced doctors usually have more control over their schedules and can negotiate better time-off policies.

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Typical Time Off for Doctors

Annual Leave

On average, doctors can expect to receive:

  • 2 to 4 weeks of vacation per year: This can vary based on the factors mentioned above. Hospital-employed doctors might have more standardized vacation time, whereas those in private practice might have more variability.

Public Holidays

Doctors often have to work during public holidays, especially those in critical care and emergency medicine. However, some specialties and practices may allow doctors to take time off during public holidays.


  • Primary Care and Office-based Specialties: Often have weekends off, though they might have on-call responsibilities.
  • Hospital-based Specialties: Frequently work weekends but might get weekdays off instead, depending on their shift schedules.

Personal and Sick Leave

Doctors generally have access to personal and sick leave, though the specifics can vary:

  • Sick Leave: Most healthcare facilities provide sick leave, which can range from a few days to several weeks, depending on the institution's policies.
  • Personal Leave: Includes time off for personal matters or emergencies, typically negotiated on a case-by-case basis.



Continuing Medical Education (CME)

Doctors are often required to participate in continuing medical education to maintain their licenses. This can include attending conferences, workshops, and other educational activities:

  • CME Leave: Many institutions provide additional days off specifically for CME, which might not count against their regular vacation days.

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Why Time Off is Important for Doctors

  • Preventing Burnout

Medical professionals are at a high risk of burnout due to the intense nature of their work. Regular time off is crucial to prevent burnout, allowing doctors to recharge and return to work with renewed energy and focus.

  • Maintaining Mental Health

Taking time off helps doctors manage stress and maintain their mental health. It provides an opportunity to engage in activities that promote well-being, such as spending time with family, pursuing hobbies, and getting adequate rest.

  • Ensuring Quality Patient Care

Well-rested doctors are more likely to provide high-quality patient care. Fatigue and burnout can lead to mistakes and decreased efficiency, so time off is essential for maintaining high standards of medical care.

  • Work-Life Balance

Achieving a healthy work-life balance is important for doctors to enjoy their personal lives and prevent their professional responsibilities from overwhelming them. Regular time off helps maintain this balance.


Understanding how many days doctors get off is essential for appreciating the balance they need to maintain between their demanding professional responsibilities and personal well-being. While the specifics can vary widely based on specialty, employment type, and experience level, it is clear that regular time off is vital for preventing burnout, maintaining mental health, and ensuring high-quality patient care. By recognizing the importance of time off, both doctors and healthcare institutions can work together to create a sustainable and fulfilling work environment


How Many Vacation Days Do Doctors Typically Get?

Doctors typically get between 2 to 4 weeks of vacation per year, but this can vary depending on their specialty, place of work, and level of experience.

Do Doctors Get Weekends Off?

It depends on the specialty and work setting. Primary care doctors often have weekends off, while hospital-based doctors might work weekends and get weekdays off instead.

Are Doctors Required to Work During Public Holidays?

Many doctors, especially those in critical care and emergency medicine, are required to work during public holidays. However, some might have the option to take these days off, depending on their specialty and work setting.

How Much Sick Leave Do Doctors Get?

Sick leave policies vary by institution, but most healthcare facilities provide several days to a few weeks of sick leave for doctors.

Do Doctors Get Paid Time Off?

Yes, many doctors receive paid time off, which includes vacation days, sick leave, and personal days, depending on their employment agreement and workplace policies.

How Do Doctors Take Time Off for Continuing Medical Education (CME)?

Many institutions provide additional days off specifically for CME, allowing doctors to attend conferences and educational activities without using their regular vacation days.

Can Doctors in Private Practice Take Time Off?

Doctors in private practice can take time off, but it might be more challenging to manage extended vacations due to patient care responsibilities.

Do Resident Doctors Get Time Off?

Resident doctors have very demanding schedules with limited time off. However, they do receive some vacation days and personal leave, which varies by program.

How Do Doctors Prevent Burnout?

Taking regular time off, maintaining a work-life balance, and engaging in stress-relieving activities are essential for preventing burnout in doctors.

How Important Is Time Off for a Doctor’s Mental Health?

Time off is crucial for a doctor’s mental health as it helps manage stress, prevent burnout, and maintain overall well-being, leading to better patient care and professional satisfaction.