09 April 2015
You’ve just spent the last 10 years learning the importance of certain medical procedures in your specialty area, and now that you’re finishing residency, it’s time to plan your transition into the professional practice. For most physicians, the first major career decision to make after residency is whether they should work at a private practice or at a hospital-owned practice. While both settings present unique opportunities to thrive in any given specialty area, there are certain pros and cons to consider about each. “If you are preparing to finish your residency, you should understand which route best aligns with your career outlook,” says Adam Bottorff, an Executive Recruiter for The Execu|Search Group’s Physician Recruitment division, who regularly educates physicians on the differences between the two types of practice. “In order to find the best fit, it’s important to consider how your personality and career goals may be impacted by the choice of practice. While there is no right or wrong answer in making this decision, it’s important to consider all aspects of the setting—not just one particular aspect.” Private Practice A private practice is usually run as a ‘for-profit’ business and could be owned by one or more physicians. “Private practices may work well for the entrepreneurial professional, as you will have the opportunity to exercise both your medical skills and business acumen,” says Adam. If you’re interested in a career with a private practice, here are the most important pros and cons to weigh: Pros If you like the idea of being your own boss, working in a private practice may allow you to be the ultimate decision maker. You can also learn about any field of the business you’d like (i.e., HR, IT, Finance, etc.) in addition to the medical side. There is no cap set on your salary. Your income potential is based on the volume of patients you manage, so you have some control over how successful you can be. If you prefer working in a team environment where building strong working relationships are important to your success, a private practice might be the best fit for you. Not only will you have the flexibility to build your own schedule, but a private practice can be a welcoming environment for suggesting new ideas and business initiatives with your partners. Cons Since these facilities are privately-owned, the burden of meeting certain financial obligations fall onto the physicians. For example, the physicians are individually responsible for paying for all costs (i.e., rent, insurance, benefits, retirement, etc.) associated with running the practice. It’s important to be aware of your patient levels as your earning potential is tied directly to the number of patients you manage. As a result, when business is slow, your salary may be negatively affected. Current trends show that bigger hospitals are starting to buy out smaller private practices in order to capitalize on new opportunities that have been brought forth from the ACA. Therefore, it’s important to stay up-to-date on current industry trends in order to proactively think about ways to compete with practices that have the support of a larger hospital system. Hospital-Owned Practice While a private practice could lead to a successful career, some physicians entering the job market may choose to work for a hospital-owned practice. “For physicians that might not be interested in the business side of the industry and prefer more security and structure in their professional environment, a hospital-owned practice is a great choice,” highlights Adam. However, while it can provide security in many aspects of your career, there are pros and cons to keep in mind. Pros If you’re looking to advance your medical skills in a niche area, a hospital-owned practice may give you access to the most up-to-date medical technology and educational resources you need to excel. You will have a set contract in place and will know exactly how much you can expect to earn every month. Since hospital-owned practices are bigger and require more structure in scheduling patients, if you prefer more stability in your week-to-week routine, a hospital-owned practice may be a good fit for you. There is a lot of room for upward mobility through the organization, in addition to plenty of opportunities to network with professionals from other lines of business within the practice. For example, if you wanted to gain insight into the operational side of managing a hospital-owned practice, you will have the opportunity to learn about it from a variety of professionals at different levels working in this capacity. Cons Hospitals are required to follow very specific protocol, therefore, you may routinely need to adjust to changing metrics (i.e., office procedures, technology usage, salary requirements, etc.) in order to do your job effectively. You will have to report to a team leader on your daily routines. As a result, if you like the independence of solving problems by yourself and getting a job done your way, you may need to change your approach in order to align with your team leader’s goals. As hospitals try to balance the needs of the staff and the needs of the organization, certain initiatives/concerns of the staff may go overlooked for larger business initiatives.