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05/14/2019

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Differential Tolls of the Second Shift

By Dr. Tiffany Remsing, MD, FACOG

How taxing is your weekly second shift? I’m referring to your household chores, not your second shift of the week at the hospital or clinic.

Everyone has household chores when they’re done with their paid job whether he or she is single, married or has children. Household chores are the unpaid hours of work done at home to keep a household running, and they range from washing the dishes, taking out the trash and lawn care, to the social support you provide to a partner, spouse, child(ren) or aging parents.

Sometimes, if budgets allow, we can pay others to help with household chores such as cleaning the house, caring for the lawn or a nanny or daycare to help care for children. Not all budgets can accommodate paying others to help and not all household chores are suited to paid assistance.

Household chores are often not evenly divided between spouses and partners. Women most often take on a higher percentage of household chores. Culturally in the USA and around the world, household chores are more often thought of as a woman’s work and so a disproportionate percentage of the work falls to women to complete. An article from Abigail Hess at CNBC cited statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that found in the USA, men perform 17.5 hours of household chores a week and women 28.4 hours per week. When both paid and unpaid hours were totaled, women still provided more hours of work. This discrepancy leads to more stress for the partner working more—often unpaid—hours.

The CNBC article by Hess goes on to point out how this extra time spent on unpaid work at home often has an effect of limiting career development as they have less time to devote to their work. Research has shown that fathers have low blood pressure and lower rates of cardiovascular disease as well as greater satisfaction at work when they spend more time with their children. An article by Scott Coltrane in the Journal of Marriage and Family, titled Research on Household Labor: Modeling and Measuring the Social Embeddedness of Routine Family Work, showed that when household chores are more evenly distributed, women experience less depression and have higher marital satisfaction.

Designated time at work and designated time for home can help with both spouses and partners in a relationship as well as single persons with work-life balance. TeamHealth provides for this balance not only for employed medical professionals but also for the community providers we support through our hospital connections. Employed medical professionals can focus on home life when they have left their shifts at the hospital knowing that the patients will be well taken care of by the next medical provider on shift, and community physicians can rest better knowing their patients are being cared for at the hospital by excellent clinicians.

LiveWell WorkLife Services is another great resource provided to all TeamHealth employees and clinicians. LiveWell has resources ranging from the Maslach Burnout Inventory that individuals can use to self-assess their risk for burnout, chronic condition and critical response support, financial and legal support, counseling services, to child/parenting and adult/elder support.  For more information on this program visit our LiveWell WorkLife Services page or contact megan_norman@teamhealth.com.