First in a NetDoc.com series on Transitions in a Physician's Career
Before you can begin searching for a position in the medical field – whether it's your first or your tenth – you need to decide what kind of practice you want to work for. Every type of practice has its pros and cons and every physician has a unique set of values and skills that influence which type of practice would be best for them. Basically, there is no easy answer.
We'll look at some of the options to consider and we'll explore some of those pros and cons to help you make this important decision.
For many physicians, starting their own practice has been a life-long dream. For others, it might seem more like a nightmare.
Starting your own practice definitely offers many challenges that other practice options do not. For example, you need to make a sizable investment to get your business (which is what it is) off the ground. You'll need money to rent a location, hire staff, purchase or rent equipment, advertise for new patients, and more. If you have a strong entrepreneurial side, then this might appeal to you.
Another challenge is running the practice. Instead of just coming in to work and seeing patients, you'll also be responsible for managing the staff (unless you hire someone to do this for you, then you'll only need to manage that person) and finalizing decisions related to running the business, such as when to buy new computers for the office and whether to stop accepting Medicaid patients. Some physicians enjoy having this much control; others would prefer to focus solely on their patients.
Of course there are benefits to having a solo practice. For one, you have complete control over that practice. Nothing happens without your approval. You are your own boss, you set your own hours, you determine your own patient load, etc. Any physician who has worked in other practices or in other types of organizations knows these are all incredible benefits. However, autonomy doesn't come cheap. Physicians who run their own practices tend to work more and have fewer vacations simply because their practice isn't just their job it's their business. They have to be completely dedicated to its making it a success, especially during the first years, or it will fail just like any other business.
Remember to think long term. If you plan on getting married and starting a family, will you be able to juggle the demands of a solo practice with the demands of your personal life? Are you wanting to spend the next ten to thirty years in this location?