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Starting your own medical practice is a rewarding career move, but the task can also be challenging. If you're trying to decide if you should strike out on your own or join another's practice, here's what you need to know.

Like any career path, there are advantages and disadvantages to starting your own practice. Starting your own practice can give you more autonomy over your daily schedule and patient interactions, not to mention greater control over your practice’s culture. Plus, you might have more influence on your service offerings and your earnings.

However, in addition to practicing medicine, there’s a considerable amount of work that goes into starting and managing your own practice, including:

  • Creating a business plan
  • Securing funding
  • Signing a lease
  • Equipping your practice with technology, supplies, and utilities
  • Hiring and managing staff
  • Billing and problem-solving

 

Joining an established practice

On the other hand, the appeal of joining an established practice is ease and predictability. Applying for a position at a known medical practice can be straightforward and take considerably less time and energy than starting your own practice.

Of course, when you join an established practice you’ll have less autonomy, but you also know what to expect when it comes to your salary, benefits, and responsibilities.

How to Decide if it’s Right for You?

The right choice between the two depends on your priorities and personality. Here are 5 questions you may want to ask yourself:

1. What are your career goals?

Think about your career goals as a medical professional. Are there certain clinical or research projects you believe strongly in? Would you rather build tenure in one practice or gain experience from a variety of practices? Are there communities you want to serve? When would you like to retire?

Thinking about your career goals for the next 5 to 25 years can help you clarify your priorities and decide what environment might get you there.

2. How much time and energy do you have?

Starting your own practice isn’t just labor-intensive — it’s also time-consuming. Not only do you have to write a comprehensive business plan to open a practice, you also need to secure licenses and permits, find a location to operate, hire and train staff, and develop a marketing and growth strategy.

If you already struggle to balance your personal and professional life, you may prefer to join an established practice to gain some experience first. But if you have a flexible schedule — along with the mental and physical stamina to endure potential months of non-stop work, starting a practice could well be more rewarding.

3. Are you interested in practice management?

Opening a medical practice is like running a business. Aside from your medical skills, it requires business savvy and leadership skills. From exploring the competition in your area, considering your specialty’s target demographic to coming up with marketing strategy to attract new patients, there are a lot of business aspects to cover.

If you’re eager for a mix of patient interaction and practice management, starting your own practice could be an exciting, stimulating challenge. However, if you prefer to focus all your energy on practicing medicine, you may be better off joining an established practice.

4. How will you finance your practice?

Opening a medical practice can be expensive. The startup costs for rent, utilities, and medical equipment alone can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. To set yourself up for success, you may need significant funding.

So, what does your financial health look like? Can it support your business plan? Do you need to apply for a loan? Are you ready to take on that financial responsibility? If you need help to assess your current financial situation and advice on financial solutions, talk to one of our dedicated RBC Healthcare Specialists.

5. Why are you interested in private practice?

After all, you need to know why you want to pursue this path. Is it because you love to be your own boss? Or you are most productive working alone? List them all and make sure you have solid reasons for taking the plunge.

Starting your own practice is a great way to have more autonomy in your medical career, but it is also hard work. Before you decide one way or another, take the time to weigh your options and do your research.

Tips: Check out Ontario Medical Association “Starting a Practice: A Guide for New Physicians” for more information.