The best defense for burnout: Private Practice
Most physicians chose medicine to care for others. This selfless optimistic objective is balanced by the essential premise that the physician is healthy and happy with enough knowledge, experience and abundance to heal his or her patients.
Unfortunately, our healthcare system thwarts us at every turn, with continual devaluation and reduction in reimbursements, paralyzing insurance and government regulations, and demoralizing lack of control.
Ballooning student debt and declining reimbursements as well as the perception of greater stability in large heathcare systems have led to the current trend for more physicians to choose employment.
More and more physicians are feeling isolated, helpless and defeated which continues to fuel the increasing crisis of physician burnout in America.
Despite these trends, physicians have other options that can be more beneficial to them emotionally, physically, and financially.
Private practice offers many stark contrasts from employment within a healthcare system, hospital or academic center. Private practice offers benefits that reduce challenges leading to burnout.
Here are 10 ways in which private practice can defend you from becoming a drowning depleted physician.
CHOICE, FLEXIBILITY AND CUSTOMIZATION.
Many burnout physicians feel stuck and frustrated because they have no control in the decisions that affect their work on a daily basis. In private practice, you have more autonomy in decision making. The primary and greatest difference between being employed and being an owner, or your own boss, in a private practice is greater choice, flexibility and customization. Physician owned and managed practices are more flexible, change more easily, and can be more efficient.
Many physicians are exhausted and overworked due to the healthcare worker shortage and large corporate mission’s to maximize the productivity of their employees. Private practice affords more flexibility and customization of your schedule including the length of patient visits and the number of patients seen. Private practice allows fewer days of work and a schedule that matches your life as long as it remains profitable for the practice.
SCOPE OF PRACTICE.
In a corporate position, you may not have a say in what medical problems you see and don’t, your choice of where you operate, medical equipment as well as supplies and vendors because most large institutions gain efficiencies with sole source contracts. In private practice, you have more voice in your scope of practice and which patients you choose to see and procedures you perform. You and your colleagues can choose insurance contracts that align with your priorities.
In private practice, you have more of a voice in the choice, training and management of your staff and the physician colleagues you work with. You have a say in hiring, promoting and firing because the physicians are part of the management team. In academic and healthcare systems, these decisions are made by administrators and managers rather than physicians.
VALUE AND DECISION MAKING.
Physicians who are burned out often feel depersonalized and disengaged. In an employed position, most decisions are made in the interest of the entire organization and may not represent the interests of the individual physicians.
In private practice, you are not only valued by your organization and team; you are essential and vital. Your opinion matters. You determine the brand and reputation rather than serving as an employee who is subordinate to the value of your institution.
GROWTH AND CHANGE.
In an employed position, the institution determines plans for growth on a broader and larger scale. In private practice, you can grow your dream. You decide where you want to expand and the vision of your future.
RELATIONSHIPS AND BRANDING.
In most employed positions, you see patients based on the institution’s brand and which insurances companies and employers are serviced.
In private practice, you can build your own reputation in the community. You must develop relationships with referral sources and within the medical community to sustain your referrals and practice.
INVOLVEMENT IN RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS AND LEADERSHIP.
Most academic positions place requirements to earn research grants and conduct research, write and publish articles and book chapters, teach residents and med students, participate in academic meetings and take leadership positions.
You often must work to seek tenure via academic tracks where you may be promoted or fired in a specified number of years. You often have little say in your colleagues hired, in your staff where decisions and changes are determined via many levels of leaders.
In private practice, there are usually no mandates for research, publications or leadership positions. You can develop professionally in any way you please.
In corporate employment, there are rarely opportunities for equity, investments or additional income streams. Profits from all the income centers generated by physician work returns to the institution, not the physician.
In private practice, you have the opportunity and potential for ownership and partnership where you can gain passive income from ancillary income sources beyond your individual production such as testing, facilities, surgery center, products for sale, and paraprofessionals.
When you are employed, you are paid with after tax dollars and your tax burden is higher than when you are a partner paid after expenses based on profit. Owning a business affords more advantages to lower your tax burden than working as an employee. These differences compound your savings and ability to invest money significantly over your career.
If you choose a private practice that aligns with your values and goals and is the right fit, you are much less likely to become stagnant, depleted and burned out. You are less likely to feel trapped in a place and with people whom you don't enjoy and don't have the same goals and aspirations as you do. If you suffer from or want to avoid burnout, you have a different choice available to you in private practice.
You will not burn out if you love your work and your life. Instead, you will be fired up to enjoy and grow and be better fueled to heal your patients. As it should be.