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Making the Transition from Physician Owner to Employee


Physicians taking employed opportunities are doing so reluctantly as they see no other financially viable options. It's up to healthcare executives and administrators to offer support and guidance during the transition from owner to employee.

For years physician employment has become more common than private practice, and a new survey reveals physicians may not be making the move out of any desire to become an employee.

In a survey of 536 physicians, The Medicus Firm and M3 Global Research, which operates MDLinx, found many physicians see employment as necessary. The most frequently selected reason for pursuing an employed opportunity was necessity (“it is the only financial viable option”).

"As doctors lose more and more control over their professional lives, they may start to feel increasingly stressed and frustrated,” Jim Stone, president of The Medicus Firm, said in a statement. “Gradually, physicians' autonomy continues to erode."

Stone added that if physicians are reluctantly choosing employed positions because they see no other option, then there could be an increase in the levels of stress and burnout since practicing as an employee may be more difficult than physicians expect.

Matt Baker, vice president of Physician Recruitment Advertising MDLinx.com Career Center, noted that work and personal life balance is being increasingly emphasized in job postings.

"Our experience tells us that this trend is in response to heavy workloads, financial pressure from decreasing insurance reimbursements and rising costs of practice ownership," Baker said in a statement.

Newly employed physicians who migrated from private practice are often apprehensive about now practicing as employees, according to Stone. As such, it’s up to healthcare executives and administrators to offer support and guidance throughout the first year of employment.

"Healthcare management should be sensitive to the fact that, for some physicians, this may be the first time he or she has worked as an employee in many years, if ever,” Stone said in a statement. “Regardless of one's occupation, the transition from owner to employee can be stressful. However, for physicians, who already cope with many stressful industry changes, the transition to employment could be particularly overwhelming."

Highly competitive compensation, flexible schedules and support staff are the top three factors that would keep doctors happy as employees, according to the survey’s respondents. Other important factors are being offered leadership and growth opportunities and decision-making input.

"Anything employers can do to make physicians feel a part of the 'big picture' could help physicians maintain some degree of the autonomy and control that they had when they were practice owners," Stone said.

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