Research is Key When Choosing a Practice Location


Research is Key When Choosing a Medical Practice Location

As a physician, your job on a daily basis is to make recommendations about your patients’ health. Much of your day is spent focused on the needs of others and rarely on yourself. But there may come a time with regard to your practice that you need to make a significant decision that will affect the future for both you and your family.

In particular, we are speaking about choosing the right medical practice and location that is right for you and your family.

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.


Choosing Your Practice Type

Determine what type of practice you want to join. Particularly, at this stage, you will want to consider whether you want to join [or start) an individual practice or pursue something larger. 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 If you opt for an individual practice, you will be placing a bet that [1) there is enough demand in the location you choose and [2) that you have enough staff to service the patients that enter your doors.
  • 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 Physicians who join group practices may also have the chance to owner-partner after several years of working within the group practice.
  • Hospital Practice
    As an employed physician within a hospital, you work under contract and are obligated to certain standards and metrics. In these settings, the administrative burden of running a practice is usually lifted, giving the physician the ability to focus on your own practice 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

But beyond where you actually work, you will also want to consider your potential earnings and the cost of living where you practice. While most physicians won’t consider where he or she actually practices, this choice can make a huge impact on his or her lifestyle.

Not if only making that choice 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 city such as Los Angeles or Chicago, 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.

Equally by contrast, a physician in a smaller city may be able to have their dollar go much further, but they won’t enjoy the perks and benefits of a large metropolitan city in their spare time. 

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

Along with take-home pay and practice type, there are three additional factors you should consider when researching your practice location.

  • Taxes: High income tax? No tax? First, you must consider taxes. 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: Second, you must consider 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: Finally, you will want to think about medical 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.

Always Do Your Research

Ultimately, doing your own research before selecting a new practice and location is a necessity.

Choosing a new practice and location may be a stressful endeavor, but if you approach the process methodically and take your time, choosing the ideal location that is right for you will come. It should be an exciting time for you and this type of research will take the stress out of your choosing the right medical practice location and get you one step closer to your dream location a career.

While the above factors cover 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. When it’s time to make a move to begin practicing in another state, we are here to assist you through the process!

Medical License Pro is experienced in physician’s licensing in all 50 states. We know the ins-and-outs, the specific requirements of each state, and how to make it a fast, painless procedure for our clients. We have refined our physician licensing process to such an extent that the results are truly unparalleled.


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