As a doctor, you have to make many recommendations about your patients’ health. You spend much of your day focused on others and not yourself. Yet there may come a time in your practice that you need to make a significant decision that will affect the lives of you and your family.
We’re particularly speaking about choosing a medical practice and location that is right for you.
While there are many reasons why doctors would want to make such a change, the fact remains that doctors must be slow and methodical when making their decisions. As part of this process, we recommend that you consider several factors as you think about your ultimate decision.
Factors You Should Consider Before Making Your Move
First, we recommend that you choose the particular practice that you would like to join. Particularly, at this stage, you will want to consider whether you want to join [or start) an individual practice or pursue something larger.
For instance, an individual or solo practice is quite obviously characterized by a small staff. Along with this, you will, in all likelihood, serve a smaller client base as compared to working with some of the alternatives below. If you opt for an individual practice, you will be placing a bet that [1) there is enough demand in the location you choose and [2) that you have enough staff to service the patients that enter your doors.
Beyond the solo or individual practice, there is the group practice. Group practices often involve two or more doctors that provide patients with one particular type of care. Although you have less freedom than you would at a solo practice, a group practice will provide you with better financial security, along with an established patient base and better control of your lifestyle. Physicians who join group practices may also have the chance to owner-partner after several years of working within the group practice.
There is also the hospital practice. By working at a hospital, you work under contract and are obligated to certain standards and metrics. Becoming an employed physician at a hospital grants you several benefits. The most prominent benefit is that you do not have to worry about the administrative obligations of running a practice. Rather, you can actually focus on your own practice.
Finally, there is an academic practice. Even though you may be receiving a smaller salary, you have more flexibility to pursue the work you love. You can even leverage academic institutions’ emphasis on research and development to treat some of the toughest cases in your practice.
But beyond where you actually work, you will also want to consider your potential earnings and the cost of living where you practice. While most physicians won’t consider where he or she actually practices, this choice can make a huge impact on his or her lifestyle. The contrast is stark. If a doctor, for instance, chooses to practice in a large city like New York City, that doctor will enjoy the perks of living in such a large city, but will suffer in that their dollar won’t go as far as another city. By contrast, a physician in a smaller city may be able to have their dollar go further, but they won’t enjoy the perks and benefits of a large metropolitan city like Los Angeles or New York City.
Along with take-home pay, there are three additional factors you should consider. First, you must consider taxes. The city and state that you choose may have lower or higher taxes than alternatives. Taxes will take out a large part of your discretionary spending, so you want to be cognizant of this factor. Second, you must consider Medicare. This is particularly important if you want to open a solo practice in a state where there is substandard Medicare coverage for patients. In some cases, you may find it easier to join a practice and leave Medicare compliance and coverage to an administrative team. Finally, you will want to think about medical malpractice. Each state has different medical malpractice laws and requirements. Some even limit the amount that a plaintiff can recover in a medical malpractice suit. You will want to do your diligence here before you decide which state will be your new home.
Do Your Research
Ultimately, you will want to do your own research before selecting a new practice and location. While it may be difficult or burdensome to complete this diligence, doing your own research now will help you avoid some headaches down the road.
So what are you waiting for? We encourage you to get started today.