Survey: Doctors might prefer private practice, but the jobs are at hospitals

Doctors may prefer the opportunity to become a partner in a private group practice. (Pixabay / Free-Photos)

Where doctors would prefer to work and where the jobs actually are appear to be at odds, according to a new survey.

Most doctors say they want to work in a private group practice, but many job openings are for employed physicians, according to a survey by The Medicus Firm, a national physician search firm.

When asked what type of practice setting appeals to them the most, 32% of practicing doctors said their top choice is working in a single-specialty group compared to 20.5% who said their pick is to be hospital-employed, according to the survey. However, another 17% of physicians prefer multispecialty groups and 11% prefer university or academic employment.

"About 90% of our physician placements over the past two years have been hired by clients as employed physicians, as opposed to being set up in private practice. Yet only 20% of physicians vote for hospital employment as their top choice of practice setting," said Jim Stone, president of The Medicus Firm, in statement..

"The results seem to indicate that in an ideal world, many physicians would prefer to be an owner or partner in a private group practice, but today's healthcare environment is simply more conducive to physician employment, and the majority of available practice opportunities currently are employed positions,” he said.

Graph physician settings
(The Medicus Firm)

The preference for hospital employment did increase by four points in popularity among practicing physicians from the prior year.

In May, the company surveyed 2,219 doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants from across the country, representing more than 20 medical specialties, and compiled the data into its 15th annual Physician Practice Preference and Relocation Report.

Here are some of the other results:

  • Physicians’ top picks for favorite regions to live and work changed from last year. While the southeast and northeast regions were the top preferred regions, the mid-Atlantic region dropped out of third place and was replaced by the Pacific and Great Lakes regions (they tied for third place).
  • Doctors still report that a small percentage of their income is value-based, with little growth over the previous year.
  • Among residents and fellows, employment at academic medical centers and universities surged in popularity. Almost 35% of physicians in training preferred that setting.
  • This year, the survey asked doctors about moonlighting. Some 37% of physicians work an additional job on the side in addition to their primary full-time job.
  • Doctors are still working long hours, with 35% reporting working 41 to 50 hours a week and 19% working 51 to 60 hours weekly. About 18% report working more than 60 hours per week, which is about a 2 percentage point increase from the prior year.

RELATED: Primary care doctors spend more than 50% of workday on EHR tasks, American Medical Association study finds

  • So, it’s no surprise that 80-90% of physicians report experiencing at least one of three symptoms of burnout over the past year.
Graph physician burnout
The Medicus Firm