Women in Medicine: What Is the Right Practice Model for You?

Published April 02, 2018

Woman physician at Vituity
When it comes to your career, finding the perfect fit takes a lot of work and a little luck. Whether you’re seeking your first position or are ready for a move, you have a wealth of opportunities to consider as you plan your career path.

Location and salary are obvious criteria. For long-term job satisfaction, you should also visualize the kind of environment that will suit your personality and lifestyle and offer you the best opportunity for personal and professional growth.

It’s a good practice to start by developing a clear sense of your priorities and goals as they relate to both your work and personal life. There are a number of employment models to evaluate. While each has its advantages, you may be able to narrow your choices and find the one that is best suited to you. The most common employment models include:

Hospital Employment

For most of us, hospital employment is the most familiar model. It typically provides a competitive, guaranteed salary; clearly defined benefits; and predictable schedules and workloads. The hospital also assumes responsibility for billing, risk management, and staffing.

By choosing hospital employment, you will have the ability to focus on practicing medicine rather than handling the administrative burden associated with small, independent practices or contract work. On the flip side, hospital-employed providers have less autonomy in their jobs. Working in a hospital environment, you’ll find that directives affect your practice from the top down.

If your career goals include professional growth and leadership, that lack of autonomy can stifle your ambition and engagement, and you may find yourself doing just enough to get your job done.

Corporate Employment

Working for a corporation that manages providers for hospital emergency departments, you will have many of the same perks as hospital employment, including a predictable salary, schedule, and benefits.

These companies often tout proprietary technologies and best practices for improving quality and patient experience metrics. They also relieve hospitals of the significant burden of recruiting, staffing, and scheduling clinicians.

However, in a corporate environment, your employer’s first responsibility is to the shareholders’ profits, not to providers’ personal missions to help and heal others. If delivering great patient care is a top priority for you, you may discover you have little voice in practice matters and no control over quality of care. You may also find the top clinical leaders at your corporate management company are so busy overseeing a large number of providers and practice locations, they have no time to offer you meaningful support or learn the value you bring to the corporation.

Independent Contracting

If you like working on your own, you might consider self-employment — working on contract with hospitals or large practices. There are pros and cons to this arrangement. As an independent contractor, you’ll have the freedom to decide how often to work and when to take vacation. You can travel to new locations and even work a second job to increase earnings.

Independent contracting isn't for everyone, though. Contracting relationships tend to be shorter and more tenuous, so you generally won’t have a say in how the practice is run and may be left out of important decisions that affect your work. As a contractor, you will not receive insurance and other benefits from the practice and must pay your own self-employment taxes.

Partnership in an Independent Physician Group

Independent physician groups — partnerships organized and owned by a network of independent physicians — come in all sizes, governance structures, and specialties. In this model, physicians generally enjoy more autonomy than their employed colleagues and more opportunities to contribute to the success of the business. Compensation is typically equal across physician partners, site-dependent, making this structure an equitable choice.

Partnership is ideal if you hunger for autonomy as well as collaboration. In larger groups, the partnership provides administrative support so the clinicians can focus on patient care, workflows, schedules, and so on. It’s a good fit if you want to be engaged in developing best practices and innovative protocols that fit the needs of the hospital and patient community.

A Partnership Model Designed for Professional Growth

At Vituity, a physician partnership, the organization has intentionally created an engaged culture where all members of the care team collaborate to transform patient care. As a physician, you become an equal and valued partner from day one, with the autonomy to contribute to decisions impacting your practice. You are encouraged to join committees and pursue other leadership opportunities to help advance your career. Vituity motivates and facilitates professional growth by supporting providers’ clinical expertise and providing access to free clinical and leadership education.

Advanced providers fit into the partnership model seamlessly. Although they follow an employment model, the values of the organization are such that everyone has a voice in the practice. Access to leadership opportunities and committee participation are available for advanced providers to contribute insight and weigh in on practice decisions.

Perhaps most importantly, Vituity recognizes the unique struggles women face in medicine, and provides support and resources through the Vituity Women in Medicine (VWIM) forum. VWIM includes an online community, live events, mentorship, and programming.

Additionally, Vituity offers a $10,000 parental leave stipend and $25,000 interest-free loan to provide an extra sense of security for women planning to start or grow their families. For those who may need to move for personal or family reasons, Vituity is able to offer career opportunities in more than 250 locations across the country.

The Choice Is Yours

As you consider these different employment models, keep in mind that there's plenty of variation within each. Regardless of which model you choose, make sure you’re going to be treated fairly and as an important member of the team.

Assess whether you will have the support you need to grow and flourish in your role. Ask yourself whether you want the responsibility to use your voice in your practice and be in control of your destiny.

The bottom line: finding an organization that’s a good cultural fit leads to greater job satisfaction and success.

To learn more about how Vituity supports women in medicine, check out our career development tool for resources.

Originally published at First published by Vituity on April 2, 2018.

Partnering to improve patient lives

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