Swipe to advance
1 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

Self-employed physicians often gravitate to their jobs craving autonomy that they expect will let them focus on optimal patient care without corporate bureaucracy interfering. But the reality is that they must often run a business without having any training. And they can't always count on a stable income.

Medscape surveyed more than 740 US self-employed physicians about the pros and cons of their jobs, satisfaction with their income and work-life balance, job security, feelings about government agency regulations, future career plans, and other key topics.

(Note: Some chart data in this presentation do not add up to 100% owing to multiple selections or rounding.)

2 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

Being in charge of their own time and effort are most favored by self-employed doctors. Freedom from set performance measures and rules, and not worrying about layoffs, seem less compelling.

3 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

4 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

While autonomy was by far the most popular job feature for doctors in independent practice, no single aspect stood out as least popular. Respondents were similarly dissatisfied with job features involving the headaches of running a small business and compensation that can gyrate from month to month.

5 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

6 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

Whatever the downsides of private medical practice, more than 9 in 10 self-employed doctors believe that they enjoy valuable advantages over peers who work for healthcare systems.

7 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

8 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

When choosing a legal structure for their medical practice, nearly half opt for an S corporation or limited liability company. These structures keep responsibility for debts or legal liabilities at the business level while having business profits taxed on the owners' personal returns. A professional corporation acts like a regular C corporation while protecting one owner's liability for another's negligence or malpractice.

9 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

About 8 in 10 self-employed doctors are confident about the financial future of their medical practice. Given how that is intertwined with job security for self-employed doctors, it's interesting to compare their responses with those in Medscape's Employed Physicians Report 2022, in which 84% of respondents said they believed that their job was secure.

"As long as people have healthcare needs — which will always be the case — the healthcare sector will navigate recessions and economic downturns better than many other sectors of the economy," says Robert C. Scroggins of ScrogginsGrear, a Cincinnati accounting, tax, and management consulting firm specializing in physician and dentist clients.

10 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

The last American Medical Association analysis of practice arrangements found that the majority of doctors are employed rather than self-employed. How long will those who opt for self-employment remain there?

Practically the same shares of self-employed and employed physicians (68%) don't expect to stay on that career path longer than another 10 years. Bottom line: Whatever leads doctors to healthcare organization jobs, it's apparently not expectations for a long career there.

11 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

Retirement is the next phase for a greater share of self-employed physicians than their employed peers (28%). For those who have more working years remaining, finding a job with a healthcare organization is roughly as appealing as moving to a different private practice. About 1 in 8 self-employed doctors would look for a nonmedical career, similar to how employed physicians responded (14%).

12 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

While their take-home pay can vary, the potential upside — and their potential to control it — seem to make doctors in private practice happier: 65% of them were at least satisfied with their incomes, compared with 56% of employed physicians. And a smaller share of them are unsatisfied or very unsatisfied vs their employed peers (22%).

13 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

There's no escaping the reality that outside events (recession, laws and regulations, the power going out, and on and on) are more fearsome to self-employed doctors. More than half of them said they are concerned that events they can't control will cut their income. (Note: 28% said they are "somewhat concerned.")

Still, physicians in private practice are less concerned than average Americans. In June 2022, a survey by staffing company Insight Global found that 78% of US employees fear job loss if the economy plunges into recession.

14 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

It seems surprising that about 8 in 10 self-employed doctors answered "yes" to this question, despite the prospects of unexpected overtime and night call, atop paperwork responsibilities, being commonly cited as downsides of private practice.

15 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

In this perception-based question, neither employed doctors nor their self-employed peers seem to believe that they enjoy much of an advantage. In our Employed Physicians Report, 44% of respondents said they think they have a better balance in their professional and personal lives than self-employed doctors do (another 33% said "about the same" and 18% "worse").

This perception is perhaps more important to younger doctors. An American Medical Association survey found that 92% of physicians under age 35 think work-life balance is important.

16 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

Self-employed doctors are even more likely than employed physicians (70%) to rate their collaboration with medical staff as effective or better. (Note: Neutral responses are not shown.)

17 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

Ninety-six percent of our self-employed respondents said the level of autonomy they enjoy at the office is at least somewhat important to them, which is an emphatic result.

"Autonomy is what I strive for in my practice," one physician respondent says. "In my office, it is entirely possible. At a hospital, it is much more challenging."

"Autonomy is key to a healthy and productive life," another doctor adds.

18 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

Although many self-employed physicians complain about wearing administrative hats, about two thirds believe that they can juggle patient care and business needs. "I could increase my fees and bring on administrative help, but for now, I do it myself," one doctor says.

19 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

There's a distinct disadvantage here for doctors working in independent medical practice. They are far more likely to spend 16 or more nights on-call per month than employed physicians are (6%). While 55% of self-employed doctors are on-call 5 or fewer nights per month, 69% of employed physicians are.

"Being in solo practice means being on-call 24/7/365," one doctor complains.

20 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

Despite navigating vaccination attitudes, mask policies, and staff health throughout the pandemic, COVID-19 did not shake the career decisions of three fourths of our survey respondents.

21 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

22 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

23 of 24

Scroll

Self-employed Physicians Report: Is It Worth It to Be Your Own Boss?

Jon McKenna | November 4, 2022 | Contributor Information

24 of 24

Related Content on Medscape

Start
 

Employed Physicians Report: Loving the Focus, Hating the Bureaucracy

Employed physicians reveal the pros and cons of their jobs, income and bonus structure; roles in the organization; and corporate policies and rules.Medscape Features Slideshows, Sep 2022
All Slideshows
1 26 Next