Choose A Medical Practice and Location Right For You
Are you considering a new location to live or work?
There are many reasons why a physician may choose a particular type of practice and a particular location to live. The choice will ultimately be based upon a highly personal set of requirements that combines needs, desires or even a close proximity to loved ones and family. However, if a choice comes down to a couple locations with all requirements “equal,” a little research may provide the additional information that can help influence your final decision.
Choose Your Practice
Determine what type of practice you want to join. This is a good place to begin your search, as it breaks down the job descriptions that will shape the trajectory of your career:
- Individual Practice
Individual, or solo practices are usually characterized by a small staff and typically have a limited patient base.1 When deciding to start a solo practice, you should have confidence in the location and your ability to build a staff and grow a patient base.
- Group Practice
Group practices are typically divided into two or more physicians providing patients with one specific type of care. Group practices provide an established patient base, increased financial security, better control of lifestyle and are better able to accept and manage financial risk than solo practices.1 Many physicians are able start at a group practice as an employee and become an owner-partner after time in the company.
- Hospital Practice
As an employed physician within a hospital, you will work under contract and are likely beholden to certain performance standards and metrics. In these settings, the administrative burden of running a practice is usually lifted, giving the physician the ability to focus on practicing medicine and fulfilling contract obligations.2
- Academic Practice
Academic institutions offer opportunities for research and experimentation, including taking on the patients who may be the toughest to diagnose and treat. You would also be able to to teach and work with the next generation of students and residents.2 While Academic institutions may provide a smaller salary in comparison, many provide additional benefits such as work-life balance and good retirement plans.
Consider Earnings and Cost of Living
If only picking a place to live was as easy as closing your eyes and picking a random spot on a map! Unfortunately, life isn’t that simple, and your location choice should be a meticulously weighed and determined location that covers all of your needs and desires.
Pay is usually a strong motivator when you choose a place to work. However, if you pick a job based solely on the salary and not look at the big picture, you may suffer in the long run. For example, if you decide to take a job in a larger metropolitan City, you might find yourself having less than desirable housing locations and have to move out of the city to find something that may suit your (or your families) needs. While this may not always be the case in all cities, it should be taken into consideration how much of your salary will go into your lifestyle.
The decision to move will ultimately be based upon a highly personal set of requirements that combines needs, desires or even a close proximity to loved ones and family.
More Than a Location: Taxes, Medicare and Malpractice
- Taxes: High income tax? No tax? What if the state you land on has extremely high income tax and more than half your pay is gone before it even lands in your pocket? Research your potential state and determine what tax bracket you will fall into.
- Medicare: Perhaps you want to open a solo practice and the state you decide on has poor medicare coverage to your patients. Are you prepared to navigate the insurance implications of medicare, or the lack thereof? Would you prefer to join a practice and leave these complications up to the administrative team? Research this topic for each state, and decide how you want to proceed as you work through your career choice.
- Malpractice: Like medical licensing, each state also has different malpractice laws and requirements. Some states limit the amount of money a medical malpractice plaintiff can receive, and some do not.3 Research in this category will be helpful if you decide to pick a state that has a malpractice cap, in case you find yourself in a malpractice lawsuit.
Choosing a new practice and location may be a stressful endeavor, but if you approach the process methodically and take your time, picking the ideal location will come. It should be an exciting time for you and this type of research will take the stress out of your choice and get you one step closer to your dream location a career.
While these three covers a lot of information at once, they should be researched at length before you decide on your ideal location as they will play a hand in your daily operation.