Although the number of employed physicians exceeds that of private practice physicians nationally, I do not foresee this as a sustainable trend. I expect that the pendulum will swing back the other way, sooner than later.
Throughout the 13+ years I’ve worked in this industry, I’ve never witnessed growth as rapid as the current level among private practices. This includes new practices opening, and the volume of hiring across these growing private practices.
I work with hundreds of private practices, and each day, more practice leaders tell me they have waiting lists for patients to get in to see a clinician.
What’s Behind the Growth?
Patients prefer to receive the more personalized and patient-centric care that is available in private practice settings, as is proven from the increasing number of private practices that are hiring. This patient-centered care is better for getting to the root cause of illness, educating and empowering patients, and restoring their health. Patients are demanding personalized healthcare.
In addition, a private practice setting is more often preferred by physicians. In our recent article about private practice and root-cause care being an antidote for physician burnout, we learned a great deal from the personal and professional experience of Rob Downey, MD, IFMCP, a board-certified family medicine physician in Alaska who also became certified in Functional Medicine by the Institute for Functional Medicine. He now practices the personalized, comprehensive care he believes is best for his patients.
Dr. Downey is among many physicians who have found that private practice, particularly for primary care physicians who want to offer an approach that includes comprehensive, personalized, root-cause care, is best for patients. Surgeons and specialists also believe that the physician workforce trend will shift back in favor of private practice.
“Small private practices give physicians the ability to provide the best care for their patients and to adapt to changes quickly and effectively,” Joseph Anderson, MD, professor of Medicine at Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine in Hanover, N.H., told Becker’s Healthcare recently, in an article detailing surgeons’ and other physician specialists’ predictions about the growth of private practice.
Dr. Brett Levine recently weighed in with similar thoughts and ideas at KevinMD.com regarding the benefits of practicing as a private practice physician, and how it can even “defend you from becoming a drowning, depleted physician.”
Dr. Levine lists several important aspects regarding the variety of benefits private practice offers to physicians and their patients. He notes that autonomy and flexibility are more frequently afforded to physicians in private practice, and they also enjoy more freedom in their schedules and scope of practice. Physicians want to feel valued and engaged, just as other professional leaders do, and it’s challenging in many of today’s employed physician roles for physicians to feel “essential and vital” to the organization.
In addition to the many intrinsic and professional rewards offered by private practice, Levine agrees that private practice tends to be more financially rewarding too. Private practices provide more opportunities for product offerings, and passive income through ownership, partnership and equity. Employed physicians are not able to benefit from many of these offerings.
“Practice autonomy and ancillary revenue are the main drivers of the next wave of orthopedic surgeons to pursue a private practice,” Michael Moustoukas, MD also told Becker’s Healthcare.
The new physicians today are more frequently being pushed into employed positions out of residency because of the lack of exposure to private practice in their training. Unfortunately, many of these young physicians quickly burnout or feel disenfranchised by employment.
So what are you waiting for? Your private practice awaits. Whether you want to join a private practice or start your own, Integrated Connections is here to help with all the practice and career resources and information you need to succeed.