One of the many decisions that a healthcare practitioner must make when entering the health industry, is whether to work within a group practice or a private practice. It can be overwhelming to make that choice, especially given the many benefits to both, however, through this guide, we hope to make this process easier for you. Group and private practices each have their own unique factors, and both approach healthcare procedures differently, including private pay vs insurance, as well as practice management systems vs. EHR systems. We’re here to set the record straight and help you decide what type of practice suits your needs, and accomplishes your healthcare goals.
Running a Solo Practice
Running a private practice can be one of the most rewarding experiences when it comes to healthcare, as it means you can have complete control over the healthcare experience. Whether you’re a therapist, psychologist, or otherwise, you decide how you want to work, and how you deliver high-quality healthcare solutions to patients. Work on your own time, and grow the business you wish to see.
Pros of a Solo Practice
To summarize, here are some of the benefits of running your own private practice.
In private practice, you’re your own boss. You don’t have to report to upper management, meaning that you can make all the decisions you like, and have complete authority to determine day-to-day operations. From the hours you work, to the number of clients you wish to see, to spending decisions; you can make whatever changes you wish.
Working within healthcare means seeing clients constantly, and sometimes you may find yourself wanting a break. The last thing on your mind is dealing with conflicts between co-workers, and working in private practice means you don’t have to! Avoid conflicts entirely by operating independently.
Higher pay opportunities
Perhaps the most anticipated pro for some, working privately means having greater pay opportunities. As the sole owner of the business, all of the profits go to you, which is amplified by your ability to set your own rates. You can increase income within your practice, and receive the reimbursements you deserve.
Cons of a Solo Practice
In light of these positives, we would be remiss if we failed to mention the drawbacks of working privately.
Running your own private practice does mean that you are responsible for every decision you make. If things go wrong, you are the only person accountable for those actions, which can be a bit of a daunting thought. Being the sole owner means you carry the burden of all financial decisions, as well as setup, management, marketing, and overhead, just to name a few.
One of the most important aspects of healthcare is having the funds to be able to make ends meet. The good news is, this gradually gets easier as you increase clientele over time, however, starting up isn’t easy. If you face financial troubles, finding the funds can also be quite a significant challenge.
Lack of coverage
If you need to take a sick day, or if you’re wanting to go on vacation, being the sole owner means that you must shut the entire business down. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’ve planned ahead, and if you have sufficient funds to afford a couple of days’ loss - but if this becomes a regular occurrence, this issue can snowball very fast! Without other staff members to rely on, you need to have various contingency plans in place to avoid major financial casualties.
What is a Group Practice?
On the other hand, a group practice is an organization comprised of many healthcare professionals. This is typically the case for many public clinics and organizations, with group practices accommodating a wide variety of practitioners that treat a number of clients in the same facility. There may be hierarchies with some job specializations undertaking more responsibilities than others.
Pros of a Group Practice
There are many advantages to working within a group practice, including the following.
Support from co-workers
People are often what makes a place, especially in the context of healthcare. In group practices, you can work alongside others to receive greater support and build your professional healthcare network. Responsibilities are shared, which can result in less stress, and you can learn from the experiences of others to improve clinical outcomes. If you’re just starting out in the healthcare space, group practices can certainly help you grow.
When joining a group practice, all of the groundwork has already been laid, meaning you can rely on a stable income without worrying about business costs. Group practices tend to have greater purchasing power, meaning they can source medical equipment at a much lower cost, which is also great for increasing salaries. Some HCPs actually find that they earn more in group practices than in private!
Already established referral base
With group practices, you don’t need to spend time attracting clients, as there’s already an abundance of referrals from other healthcare professionals and clinics. An already-established network means you don’t have to worry about getting more patients through your doors.
Cons of a Group Practice
However, while there are some great benefits, there are also some major pitfalls to working within a group practice.
Lower degree of control
When you join a group practice in a practitioner role, you won’t have as much control over the medical, financial, operational, administrative, and marketing decisions. In most cases, you’ll be working underneath upper management who decides your schedules and clients for you. This can be particularly challenging if you don’t agree with some of the decisions made, and in some cases, this could lead to serious workplace conflict.
Shared staff means that you’ll be working alongside many other healthcare practitioners, who may approach clinical issues differently than you. Sharing staff may mean that sometimes others have priority over certain clients, or certain in-demand shifts are allocated to other colleagues. Over time, this can become quite frustrating, and does mean you may have to manage these types of issues often.
May affect patient satisfaction
Working in a group practice may mean that you may not be available all of the time, particularly during busy periods. All of your healthcare staff may be occupied, which means longer waiting times for patients. Not only does this decrease patient satisfaction, but it can also damage the reputation of your clinic. No one enjoys waiting around, especially when experiencing pain or discomfort!
Finding The Right Fit Between a Solo and a Group Practice
Taking this evidence into consideration, you may be wondering how to decide whether a private practice or group practice is right for you. Luckily, there are some things you should know before solidifying your decision.
Firstly, consider your financial situation. Objectively looking at the numbers may make this decision for you! Running your own private practice is a big undertaking but by no means an impossible one. In fact, it’s very achievable, but you have to have the right funds in place with minimal debts. This can help with loan approvals, as well as the various overhead costs required to get a private healthcare practice up and running.
You’ll also need to consider your personality and practice style. If you think of yourself as indecisive, and you prefer to minimize social interaction as much as possible, then perhaps starting a private practice is not for you. It may be easier to let others take the reins, and if you’re a new graduate, then you also may not have the experience that can make private practicing a whole lot easier. Don’t get it twisted - you can absolutely start a practice if you’re a management newbie, but you must also be aware that it may take significantly more effort.
As a final thought, you should also take note of your specialty. Some nonhospital specialties are better suited to solo practice - so make sure to do your research before you begin.
We wish you the best of luck in whichever direction you choose!