This Millennial Physician Chose to be Independent. Here’s Why.

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If you’ve seen headlines recently, you may have noticed that millennials have created a lot of confusion in the consumer world when it comes to their preferences, as compared to older generations. So much so, that Business Insider created an entire list of industries that millennials are responsible for changing; the list includes everything from casual dining to golf.
Millennial docs are no different, preferring to forge a different path from many of their predecessors in an industry largely rooted in the traditional model of practice ownership. According to a 2016 infographic from The Advisory Board, 69 percent of new medical school graduates prefer “hospital, medical group, or outpatient clinic” employment to independent practice. But this doesn’t need to be the case! Here’s a firsthand account from a millennial independent physician who is glad to own his own practice, and tips from a physician recruiter on how to attract this elusive group if you’re currently recruiting for your own practice.

A Millennial’s Perspective

“Younger physicians are frankly scared of the unknown,” according to Dr. Syed Ahmed, a 30-something neurologist who owns his own practice, Capital Neurology & Sleep Medicine. “When recruiting younger doctors, it’s obviously important to do your research and try to be competitive compensation-wise, but I would really emphasize that they are a part of a larger mission, and have the opportunity to join a team that is looking to build something significant. They want to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.”
Dr. Ahmed’s perspective jibes with a 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey finding that “employees who feel their jobs have meaning, or that they are able to make a difference, exhibit greater levels of loyalty.”
Dr. Ahmed completed his residency at The Ohio State University and chose to go immediately into private practice. “It’s important to highlight that option of flexibility to younger doctors who haven’t worked at a private practice. The flexibility of being an independent physician is what keeps many in private practice.”

Thoughts From a Physician Recruiter

According to Lisa Freda, Director of Physician Recruiting at Privia Health, many younger physicians are attracted to hospitals because they see it as their best opportunity for a balance between their work and personal lives. On the contrary, many younger doctors in private practices, including Dr. Ahmed, feel that they do not work any more than their peers who are employed by a hospital. Additionally, Freda, who has been working in physician recruitment for 20 years, helps Privia practices to recruit staff in a time when predictions for physician shortage have made physician recruitment critical. The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts there will be a shortage of at least 40,000 physicians by 2030.
Freda emphasizes that the massive amounts of loan debt that many new doctors accrue cause them to take on less risk with employment. They are not alone in these concerns. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, in 2014 only 2 percent of all millennials were self-employed, compared to 7 percent and 8 percent for Gen-X and Baby Boomers, respectively. So, what’s the best way to engage younger physicians on joining your independent practice, or taking up an independent practice of their own? “First and foremost, give yourself plenty of time to recruit,” Freda shares. “It really takes 3-5 years for new physicians to understand the differences between employment and independence.”
Another tip? Fully communicate the perks of owning one’s own practice. The perks are manifold, according to Dr. Ahmed. “You have complete authority over your practice. You decide when you want to take time off, or if you want to do other types of work. There’s also the satisfaction of building a practice; seeing it grow. You’re going to be more invested in your practice. Those are the the best parts, I think.”

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