As you explore full-time opportunities and prepare to potentially relocate, you may consider details like location. You might also research what to expect and what you’ll need in relocation assistance. As you continue preparing for your career change, take time to revisit how your future practice setting will impact your experience, such as how the facility is run, how much flexibility you’ll have as a provider, your lifestyle and the organization’s culture and vision.
Common practice types
Early in your job search, one of your starting points may be narrowing your selection of opportunities by your desired practice type. Below are a few of the options you might consider when making your decision, outlined by the American College of Physicians:
A solo practice – also referred to as a private practice – involves working with a smaller team under the direction of one physician to deliver care to a more limited patient base.
Group practices will typically be divided into single-specialty and multispecialty practices. In a single-specialty practice, two or more physicians provide patients with a specific type of care. Alternatively, multispecialty group practices offer an assortment of medical specialty care within one facility.
Employed Physician Practices
This practice type can take many shapes. Some hospitals may take on and manage existing solo or group practices or hire physicians to work in their inpatient facility or ambulatory clinics. Certain organizations may also own and run clinics with physicians they’ve hired.
Whether it’s a solo or group practice, if it’s an independent contract position, a facility and even clinical coverage could be shared with other physicians or physician groups.
Locum tenens positions provide temporary coverage for an organization. These positions are usually contract based and hire physicians as independent contractors to fill needs in various practice settings.
Flexibility of each practice
Typically, the smaller the practice, the more autonomy and decision-making ability you’ll have as an advanced practice provider. Settings like a solo or small group practice may offer more independence in terms of how you deliver care and closer relationships with patients due to a smaller patient volume. However, a more limited staff may mean scheduling is not as flexible.
Alternatively, the larger the practice, the more flexibility you may have in terms of your hours or schedule, but the less likely you’ll have independence and decision-making abilities due to corporate frameworks and policies. However, settings like larger group practices or employed physician practices could offer a wider range of resources, support and educational training.
Other settings like independent contractor positions or locum tenens opportunities may offer more flexibility of clinical scheduling and are a good option for those who aren’t sure of the long-term practice type they’re seeking. However, it can also mean less autonomy related to how and to whom you deliver care.
Lifestyle changes related to practice settings
When thinking about how a practice setting is going to impact your lifestyle, consider the size of the practice, the number of physicians, the typical volume of patients and the pace of the environment.
A solo practice, for example, involves maintaining a business outside of clinical work and retaining a smaller patient volume. This means it may require more time and personal attention to keep running, whether it’s your own practice or you’re working under one physician’s instruction. However, due to the closeness of your working relationships, there may be more understanding when flexibility is needed.
Larger group practices and employed physician practices can go either way for work-life balance. On one hand, you may have more opportunities to adjust your schedule with coverage from other physicians, but a larger patient base may mean longer, more demanding hours.
When it comes to independent contractor positions and locum tenens, work-life balance is achievable. These positions can also be desirable because it allows one to gain experience in various settings without the pressure of making a long-term commitment to an organization, practice type or geographic location.
Practice types’ impact on culture and mission
In some cases, the more intimate the practice setting, the more close knit the group. But that doesn’t mean larger practices won’t embrace a unified, team-player attitude. Large or small, single or multispecialty, every practice type has potential to initiate strong relationships and internal competition.
While smaller practice settings may offer more hands-on guidance or mentorship, larger organizations may have the means to provide more extensive resources or growth opportunities.
Regardless of the setting or size, your future organization should be one that exemplifies strong values from the start, a clear mission and recognition of staff’s professional achievements and personal needs.
There are pros and cons to every practice type – and your decision isn’t permanent. With time and experience, you can continue determining the right practice setting for you based on your work ethic and style as a practitioner.
As you prepare to make your career change, continue assessing the type of practice you’ll choose, and ready yourself for how it plays a part in shaping your day-to-day life and overall experience as a health care provider.