Speaker: Private practice offers physicians independence, flexibility in delivery of care
A private practice setting rewards hardworking, like-minded physicians who want to serve their community’s medical needs by offering clinical, financial and personal independence, according to a speaker at the Women in Medicine Summit.
“In private practice, you have the most control as to how you can deliver care,” Krishna M. Jain, MD, FACS, clinical professor of surgery at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine, said in his virtual presentation, “Private practice 101.”
A benefit of private practice is clinical and financial independence, according to Jain.
“You can make decisions independently or you can have somebody telling you how to take care of your patient,” he said. “So, in your practice, you can decide whether you want to take care of Medicaid patients or not, depending on what your practice structure is.”
“For example, people do not know this, but even if you went to Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic does not take care of Medicaid patients. It is not public knowledge because everybody goes to Mayo Clinic, because it is the best place to be,” Jain added.
Time management and extracurricular activities are also more controllable when physicians are their own bosses, Jain said.
“It is always said that as a surgeon, I probably never went to any of my children’s plays or reciting a poem in the middle of the day or a soccer game,” he said. “But since I was in private practice, I will start my case at 6:30 a.m. to 7 a.m., be done by 11 a.m., go to my children’s school for an hour to listen to their presentation or see their drama presentation and come back by 12:30 p.m., because the next case I have is at 12:30 p.m. I had that luxury because I was in private practice.”
Eliminating internal politics is another benefit on private practice, Jain said.
“Part of the reason I left academics was because I was sitting in my boss's office one day, and it was interesting. He dictated a couple of memos which were totally political,” he said. “It is amazing how much politics is within the academic world, as well as the hospital employment world.”
There are some barriers to overcome when making the switch to private practice, especially without management experience, Jain said. Start-up is hard – it takes time and energy. There are many ongoing expenses – paying employees, paying for supplies and paying insurances. Developing an EMR is time consuming and expensive, as well.
Jain said it is important for physicians to keep the “driving force” behind their practices in mind.
“Many practices are driven by how much money they make, and many practices are driven by the need to do the best patient care, and money will follow. My philosophy has been that money is the byproduct of what we do,” he said. “We did not go into medicine to get rich.”
“Everybody is working with the same rule, and that is to provide the best possible care for the patients,” Jain said. “You were smart, hardworking, focused and singe-minded in becoming a physician. If you bring a fraction of these attributes to running a practice, you will be widely successful and happy in your chosen field of medicine.”