Once a person graduates from medical school and becomes a doctor, their life becomes a series of decisions. These aren’t just medical decisions such as what tests to order for a patient or how to treat them, but also personal and professional decisions. A person starts to think about the specialty they want and where they want to interview for a residency position. Another thing to consider is how much time in their lives they want to dedicate to work and how much time they would like to spend with their family and loved ones. Once their residency is completed, they also have to decide what kind of career they would like to have. Are they going to start/join a private practice or are they going to work in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital?
The trend over the past few years is that fewer people are choosing to work in private practice and more are heading towards working in a hospital. There are definitely flaws to working private, such as not having enough money to start on your own or too much administrative work, but if managed right working in private practice could be much more profitable and can allow you a more flexible work schedule. Working in a hospital can be considered more satisfying and closer to what we imagine doing as doctors, but it can be a little more exhausting.
There are a couple of reasons why fewer doctors are heading towards private practice and those who are already part of one are gradually making the transition to hospitals. One of these is all the administrative work. Once you’re working in a private practice you become responsible for a whole lot. First of all, you’re responsible for your staff and their actions. Your staff reflect upon you as you’re the one who hired them, so it’s important to make sure that they’re respectable and hardworking people. Also, if there are any disputes, you’re going to have to deal with them yourself. Another problem that makes private practice less attractive is that it’s basically a business. Your patients are your clients. You become more of a businessman trying to make sure your business blossoms and booms. You find ways to market yourself in order to bring in more patients and you have to make sure everything in your office is suitable and encourages patients to keep coming back. A lot of doctors said that being in private practice made them feel like businessmen/women rather than doctors. In medical school no one dreams and thinks about what it would be like to manage a business, because that’s not what aspiring physicians want.
Another major downside to having your own practice is all the problems that come with payment. You need to make sure that insurance companies reimburse you, which can be a hassle and take a lot of time. Not only is there a problem receiving payment, but private practices are forced into paying many costs as well. These costs include implementing electronic record systems and complying with regulations such as meaningful use and Physician Quality Reporting Systems. All of these factors get in the way of spending time with patients. Gradually you find yourself too busy to be a doctor and spending more time doing administrative duties that you hate.
Alternatively, we have working in hospitals, which has become a more attractive option these last few years. The major factor that causes doctors to prefer working in hospitals is for greater job satisfaction. In a hospital you don’t need to worry about the number of patients coming in or if they keep coming back. It’s not your job. Your job is to treat those who come in, and if that isn’t what all doctors dream of, then what is? No staff members to worry about or finances to organize. You’re only asked to do what you spent 8 years of education and at least 3 years of residency training to do: be a doctor. There are no overhead costs such as EMRs or Physician Quality Reporting Systems that need to be taken into account. You go to work in the morning, do your thing, and leave at the end of the day.
From a financial perspective, working in hospitals is a lot more stable as well. Most doctors are paid in capitation, which means they get the same amount of money regardless of how many patients they see. You could see five thousand patients a year or you could see two hundred and you’ll still get the same salary. This encourages doctors to practice prevention as preventing diseases saves healthcare costs and doctors are encouraged to do this, because through prevention they’ll get less sick people while getting paid the same. It’s great for everyone involved. It’s also more stable as it’s not dependent on how many patients your office is getting. This is important especially for fresh graduates, as they have debt of about $200,000 on average. So for them, it’s more important to have a stable income. Working in a healthcare center also provides more flexibility. You have your set working hours per day and you have a certain number of days off per year that you can take at your preference.
Despite all the flaws we discussed, private practice doctors can have it better than hospital doctors if they manage their office well enough. A well-managed private practice will definitely result in more income than that earned working in a hospital. Additionally, a private practice that is well known and has been around for several years will be stable financially. Of course, flexibility in a well-managed private practice is also way better than that of a hospital. If you and your partners have a good working and personal relationship, then covering for each other would make it incredibly easy for all of you to be able to take more time off and spend more time on vacation and with loved ones.
It takes time and effort but eventually a private practice could be a great place to work. So how do you make that happen? Well, you need to hire the right staff members. Hire an assistant with previous experience working in a healthcare setting and they’ll make your life much easier. You should also look to hire someone who has experience dealing with insurance companies. This will save you a significant amount of time that you might otherwise have to spend trying to be reimbursed. Basically, you need someone who is great with finances and someone who is great with patients and making sure everything flows smoothly in the office. If you’re looking to join a practice, then make sure it’s a good, stable one. If their turnover rate is high, then this may not be the best place to work. You should also pay attention to who your partners will be. You need decent people to work with, as that will make everything much easier.
Private practice may be on the down these days, but it’ll always be around and it’ll probably be on the rise again soon. Yes, working in a hospital is more stable and satisfying, but some people don’t like to be managed. A lot of doctors prefer to have their own practice and their own patients. They like to be on top of things and responsible for more. Let’s also not forget that working in an office could be more rewarding in the long term. Where they would like to work is another decision that doctors have to make, and it’s not an easy one. The important thing is to choose a place that makes you feel satisfied and allows you to achieve the kind of life you want.
- Working in a hospital has many advantages over a private practice.
- If you choose to run a private practice, make sure you hire people to deal with insurance and finance organisations.
- Private practices provide a flexibility that hospitals do not.