Can Private Practice Really Allow for a Work-Life Balance?
By Kam Sidhwa | June 1st, 2022
It’s a common misconception that when you run a private practice, the hours are too rigorous and the commitment is too demanding to allow for any personal or family time outside work. Research shows a physician typically works 50 hours per week, with 1 in 4 putting in between 60-80 hours per week.
This often leads physicians-in-training to conclude that an academic position is a more obvious choice to allow for the optimal work-life balance.
However, private practices can, in fact, offer work-life balance. Much of this depends on the organization and culture of a particular private practice group, as well as the colleagues within that group.
Explore these three areas of a private practice that can help or hinder the best work-life balance for physicians.
In general, there is much more autonomy in daily scheduling for private practice, especially in the independent doctors who are more inpatient-focused. Patients should be seen within a reasonable time frame, but there are no timed appointments for those patients or rounds with residents or fellows that must be done. Private practitioners can create their schedules around important family commitments, personal issues, and any daily needs.
How a private practice group is organized makes quite a difference. Larger private practice groups typically have strength in numbers and often will have flexibility with scheduling. Weekend-off requests and vacations don’t usually have to be managed within the context of other physicians’ plans. Larger groups can adjust easily if several physicians are on vacation simultaneously. Additionally, being on duty for night calls while working for a larger group will be less frequent, allowing for more personal and family time after-hours.
Another benefit of a large group for a private practice is the shared knowledge through regular education and teaching. Practitioners stay up-to-date with the most recent data and studies, as well as the latest research regarding global medical issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic through weekly meetings to discuss these findings and shared patient experiences.
Culture of the Group
The culture at a private practice plays a role in work-life balance, as well. It’s important to find a group that has cooperation and friendliness among its physicians. It would be a comfort to know that if an important personal or family event is scheduled or an emergency happens, one of several partners would step in to cover your responsibilities. The private practitioners should also feel that if the situation was reversed, you would do the same for your colleagues.
How To Have Work-Life Balance Within Private Practice
Work-life balance can be easily achieved within the context of private practice, as long as you find a group that prioritizes it. In general, there is autonomy and flexibility with a larger private practice, which helps with work-life balance. Once you find the right culture, make sure to be a compassionate colleague so all your fellow private practitioners can achieve work-life balance, too.