Not following the
So the title is somewhat misleading; sorry to
disappoint but please read no further if you were hoping for an
intriguing insight into the life of a polygamist!
We are in-fact, two higher trainees in
Intellectual Disability Psychiatry and we have had the privilege of
job-sharing for the past 5 years.
Fortunately there are lots of opportunities to
work ‘differently’ within medicine these days. Be it working
reduced sessions, slot-sharing, less than full-time supernumerary
posts, availing of career breaks – there are options!
People have a variety of reasons for seeking a
shift from traditional working patterns; including disability,
ill-health, responsibility for caring for young children or
responsibility for caring for ill/disabled partner, relative or
other dependant. Other reasons can include, for example; those who
have unique opportunities for personal/professional development
(e.g. national/international sporting events), religious training
commitments, or non-medical professional development such as
management courses, law courses, fine arts courses etc. (NIMDTA,
Why do we do it?
For us it was a personal choice because of
decisions we have made mainly around childcare options, which were
necessary because of needs specific to each of our families.
We are highly motivated trainees, passionate
about our specialty and focussed on our career aspirations. We are
also busy mums to small children with significant childcare
However, we feel strongly that our greatest asset was actually
the shared investment to make this arrangement work.
Like many in our situation we also hold the
lofty leadership role of home-manager where we get to be our own
boss in co-ordinating the posts of chief dog-walker, dinner-maker,
homework facilitator, house-worker, laundry lady, school runner and
bed-time officer. We should add that all of the afore-mentioned
would also fall apart in the absence of two equally hard-working
and perhaps exceptionally patient husbands.
How did we do it?
In the beginning all we had was an earnest
desire to make a success of the chance to work as a slot-share. We
had both previously had experience of working full-time and working
less than full-time in full-time posts.
For us personally, neither had enabled us to
give 100 % to both our occupational & our family
commitments. We wanted to strike a balance that would afford us the
ability to be both the dedicated doctors we have worked so hard to
become while also allowing us to fulfil to our satisfaction our
very important functions within our family and home lives.
How did we start?
We knew each other before we commenced the
job-share and we are in no doubt that this was a help.
However, we feel strongly that our greatest
asset was actually the shared investment to make this arrangement
work. It was fairly straightforward – we were being handed an
opportunity. We could both get on board and commit to making it
successful in every sphere of our working lives so that the
arrangement would be sustainable and enable us the security of
knowing that we could continue working less than full time for as
long as was necessary……..or we could risk losing the opportunity of
a long-term fantastic working schedule and therefore work-life
What makes it work?
We figure that at this stage we are probably
very alike in terms of our clinical practice and colleagues would
support this. We suppose this is not surprising as we have come
though much of our training at the same time, attended many of the
same courses etc.
Overall, in keeping with the social science
literature, we imagine that we work well together more because of
similarity than complementarity. That said, over time we have
learned each others’ fortes and this comes in useful in allocating
tasks, particularly within our non-clinical workload.
How does it work practically?
For most of our higher training we have each
worked 6 sessions (3 full days) per week amounting to 1.2 whole
time equivalent. The 0.2 is funded by our local deanery. We
understand that the slot-share option is much preferred by them as
they can then fund a much higher number of trainees to work less
than full time than, for example in supernumerary posts.
We typically overlap on one session per week
(often when there are academic activities which we can both benefit
from) and use this time to catch-up with each other on clinical
work, hand-over anything that is necessary and keep on top of tasks
for our special interest and research activities.
We sincerely hope that in the future we may have the option to
apply for a substantive post in a job-share capacity
On commencing each new training post we have
generally met with the supervising consultant in advance to talk
through the weekly duties and timetable and then organised between
ourselves how we think we could then divide the week. We would then
seek agreement from the consultant.
In most cases it has been very
straightforward. On a couple of occasions we have modified our
timetables slightly a month or two in order to even up either our
work-loads or our clinical experience.
We have been involved with public education
through our local college division for a number of years and have
worked with colleagues on a number of projects with school children
that have expanded and been used to develop similar models in other
parts of the UK. We are both co-ordinators of a psychiatry student
selected component at our local medical school and we share a
variety of other teaching roles with both undergraduate and
We were delighted by the central college’s
decision to appoint us as a job-share to the role of Student
What does the future hold?
We are currently acting-up in a consultant
post, each covering 0.5 WTE. This has been a great opportunity to
translate our experiences to date into the consultant role. We
sincerely hope that in the future we may have the option to apply
for a substantive post in a job-share capacity.
Our experience has ben incredibly positive. We
feel that the job-share has enhanced our ability to thrive in our
clinical training and enabled us to attain vastly more than we
could have done individually in our special interest work.
If like us, you’re not a person that does
things by halves – perhaps something less than a full job could be
just what the doctor ordered!