Once medical professionals finish their training and receive their credentials, they are faced with the difficult decision of where to seek employment. These choices are not only considerations that arise at the start of a medical career but they will continue to follow you throughout your vocation. There are a variety of possible job environments to consider, including hospitals, private practice, public or private clinics, aid organizations, and private or government-funded laboratories, just to name a few. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on hospital versus private practice and four things to consider before choosing a workplace environment.

Autonomy Vs Employer-Dictated Guidelines

With private practice, you are your boss and maintain control over administrative decisions, patient care, and revenue. With hospital employment, you are subject to hospital policy and guidelines, receive a guaranteed salary, and forego the administrative headaches. For hospital employment, you should also be aware of nationwide databases like aggregate spend solution and reporting databases. This means if you are let go from an establishment, they could report the reason why and it could affect your ability to get a position elsewhere. Being aware of what’s out there about your professional reputation is important to making your decision between hospital work and private practice.

Guaranteed Patient Base Vs Patient Recruitment

Hospital employment offers a built-in patient base and no need for recruitment by employed physicians and other medical staff. Additionally, the employer assumes the responsibilities and costs associated with any advertising or promotion regarding patient services as well as recruitment. In private practice, you must build your own patient base and generate buzz for your practice. To accomplish this feat, you will likely have to spend money on advertising, utilize social media, and generate good word-of-mouth. Moreover, as a private practitioner, you will need to promote yourself as well as your practice. Some physicians may be uncomfortable with this aspect or feel it is an undue burden.

Medical Errors Happen

While most medical professionals strive to do their best and “Do No Harm”, mistakes can and do happen. Employed physicians have some liability protection and usually receive support from their employer if a medical error occurs. However, the hospital and medical staff could still be sued in the event of medical malpractice. In private practice, the doctor and their practice assume full responsibility for any lawsuits. This is one reason why physicians are required to carry medical malpractice insurance. Moreover, if a medical professional does have a history of errors or previous allegations of misconduct, private practice tends to be a better option since hospital employment is unlikely or diminished.

Administrative Duties and Capital Outlay

In private practice, the physician or group of physicians is/are responsible for staffing, payroll, maintaining the office space, dealing with insurance companies, patient recruitment, and all aspects of the daily operations. Moreover, there is a significant financial investment required to secure an office location and start a practice of your own or join an existing practice. Depending on your financial circumstances, this aspect could present an obstacle or create an additional burden, especially for those medical professionals just starting their careers. With hospital employment, these concerns are removed from the equation.
In summary, medicine is not an easy vocation. It is a field that requires dedication, sacrifice, and an abundant amount of training--both formal and continuing. As such, it is important to examine your options and determine your priorities when choosing a workplace environment that will best suit your needs.

Author's Bio: 

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer who loves to write for business, health, home, and women’s interests. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.