To the horror of many colleagues, I close my office for the last 2 weeks of each year. I went back to work on Jan. 3.
For several years, I didn’t close for that long. My staff and I would try to work out who needed what days off for family holiday stuff, and try to be open at least 3 days each week in late December. With Hanukkah spanning 8 nights it was always easy to get around, working some days and not others since at least one weekend would be in there. But Christmas and New Year’s Day aren’t so easy. They can be any day of the week. Usually people want the day before off, and some people prefer the day after.
Not only that, office days during those 2 weeks were often filled with no-shows, last-minute cancellations, and empty slots no one wants. A lot of it was wasted time with minimal revenue.
So in 2013, I decided that from then on we would be closed over the holidays.
Of course, being a doctor never quite stops. There are always test results, refills, and patient calls coming in, but I can handle them from my desk at home as well as the one at my office.
My kids are off from school. So we can take them to shows, light displays, movies, and other local bonding activities. Or drive 90 minutes north to spend time in the snow.
There is, of course, the financial drawback. If I’m out of the office for 2 weeks, then it means I’ll hit a shortfall 2-4 weeks later. So I have to plan ahead because I’ll likely need to skip a paycheck or two until cash flow is back up and running.
I’ll miss 10 days of December billing. But if you think about it, it’s closer to 6 days when you take away the holidays we’d be closed. And if you’re not packed full it comes down to 3-4 days … So why bother?
I can’t do it as often as I’d like, but when they’re out of school I’ll gladly trade money for family time.
Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.