What type of medical practice is the best fit for you?
Physicians have a lot of decisions to make when thinking of where they want to practice medicine. These range from geographical location to type of practice. Focusing on the latter, there are five types of medical practices for doctors to choose from. Let’s take a look at each, along with a few of their benefits and drawbacks.
In private practice, a physician practices alone without any partners and typically with minimal support staff. Therefore, this type of practice ideally works for physicians who wish to own and manage their own practice. Physicians may choose to work in private practice for the benefits of individual freedom, closer relationships with patients, and the ability to set their own practice’s growth pattern. However, the drawbacks of working independently in this way include longer work hours. It also includes financial extremes, and a greater amount of business risk.
A group practice involves two or more physicians who all provide medical care within the same facility. They utilize the same personnel and divide the income in a manner previously agreed upon by the group. Group practices may consist of providers from a single specialty or multiple specialties. Physicians working in a group practice experience the benefits of shorter work hours, built-in on-call coverage, and access to more working capital. All of these factors can lead to less stress. The drawbacks include less individual freedom, limits on the ability to rapidly grow income, and the need for a consensus on business decisions.
A health maintenance organization, or HMO, employs providers to care for their members and beneficiaries. The goal of HMOS is to decrease medical costs for those consumers. There are a variety of types of HMO scenarios, including staff-model HMOs and group-model HMOs. The benefits for providers working for an HMO include a more stable work life with regular hours. Other benefits include less paperwork and regulatory responsibilities and a regular salary along with bonus opportunities. These bonuses are based on productivity or patient satisfaction. In reality, the main drawback for physicians working for an HMO is the lack of autonomy. HMO’s required physicians to follow their guidelines in providing care.
In hospital based work, physicians earn a predictable income, have a regular patient base, and a solid referral network. Physicians who are employed by a hospital will either work in a hospital-owned practice or in a department of the hospital itself. The benefits of working for a hospital include a regular work schedule, low to no business and legal risk, and a steady flow of income. On the other hand, there are drawbacks, such as a relative lack of physician autonomy. Also, employee constraints and the expectation that physicians become involved in hospital committee work can be drawbacks.
Locum tenens is derived from the Latin phrase for “to hold the place of.” In locum tenens, physicians re-home to areas hurting for healthcare professionals. This type of practice has been around since the last 1970s. These types of positions offer temporary employment and may offer higher pay than more permanent employment situations. Physicians working in locum tenens scenarios enjoy the benefits of variety and the ability to experience numerous types of practices and geographic locations. Also, they enjoy schedule flexibility and lower living costs. The drawbacks of locum tenens work include the possibility that benefits are not included, and a potential lack of steady work. Also, locum tenens physicians need to regularly uproot their families.
There are a number of options for the types of practices that physicians can choose to work in. Again, each of these feature a unique set of benefits and drawbacks. When deciding what type of practice to work in, it’s important for physicians to consider their own personality and preferences.