Reports about the demise of private practice physicians have been inconsistent; however, young physicians are more than 30 times likely to choose hospital employment over solo practice.
Few young doctors are interested in hanging a shingle and starting their own business. Only one percent medical residents in their final year said they wanted their own solo practices, according to a Merritt Hawkins survey. Instead, they favor the stability of hospital employment, which was the number one career choice (32%). Physicians who want to start families value the predictability of a hospital schedule, which allows them greater work-life balance. Young physicians are also weary of the risk and cost associated with starting their own business in light of the massive amount of debt they incur from medical school. With the average medical student leaving school with $130,000 in debt, they don’t have much in the way of startup money.
Declining reimbursement and additional government scrutiny also makes private practice seem like less desirable career option. Experienced physicians are also beginning to see private practice as a bigger headache than it’s worth. In a previous blog post, a former independent physician said decreased referrals and burdensome regulations prompted him to close his private practice and do locum tenens work as an independent contractor. link For those who value independence without the overhead of running a business, locums is a great choice. The competitive pay and demand for locum tenens physicians also makes it a stable and lucrative career choice for young doctors who want to put a dent in their school debt.