Where private practice has the advantage

Private practice physicians face a host of challenges, but this doesn't mean that there aren't advantages to practicing privately.

One area where private practice physicians are winning is compensation. According to Medscape's "Physician Compensation Report 2024," self-employed physicians earn about $391,000 annually compared to employed physicians, who earn $353,000.

Another area where private practice physicians are seeing success compared to their employed counterparts is autonomy. 

"I have this flexibility to do what I think is right," Calvin Wong, MD, a cardiologist at Pacific Cardiology in Honolulu, told Becker's. "I'm not obligated to send the patient to the hospital that employs me. I can send who I think is the best doctor for that particular patient … so therefore it's a question of patient fit. The cornerstone of independent practice is the doctor-patient relationship. In Hawaii, which is very multicultural, if I have a Chinese-speaking patient from China, I'm gonna send him to this Chinese-speaking doctor in Chinatown. I can match the patient to the background."

Despite its positives, private practice is on the decline. 

"Private practice physicians are becoming more and more rare in American healthcare. This is by design and is not random," Kenneth Candido, MD, CEO and president of Chicago Anesthesia Associates, told Becker's. "Large systems are siphoning off private practice physicians and are buying or consolidating practices exponentially. Those who hold out find a shrinking referral base, as those formerly loyal to them are being compelled to exclusively refer within the system. It is a dirty business and a dirty, underhanded game that administrators are playing to monopolize their business models."

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