Pros/Cons of being an academic as well as a practicing physician/surgeon

Discussion in 'hSDN' started by jefgreen, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. xnfs93hy

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    I am assuming that you can be a professor and also practice medicine, right?

    Also, what are the Pros/Cons of a physician who runs a private practice by him/herself?
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    I mean. Can you teach and run your own practice? If the business (practice) is very successful, then you will not only have a successful business (practice) and a great income from that but you will also have money from teaching to boot, am I correct?

    I also assume that if you practice is not doing very well then it does not matter because you are already being paid by the university so its not like you are going to go bankrupt. Right?

    I have a feeling I am either correct or just total wrong, so that is why I am posting this.

    I was told that if you are an academic physician then you do not get paid a lot as opposed to if you just ran a successful practice. So, I am looking for some clarification.
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    Since I am at the risk of sounding materialistic I will ask one last question.
    What does being an academic physician entail? What does this person do day to day. Is this professor required to do research, and write publications/grants, and stuff?

    Just curious.
     
  2. xnfs93hy

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    600 views and no replys?
     
  3. theslave

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    From my work experience, academic medicine entails a lot of hard work that deals with teaching residents, medical students, and potential teaching requirements. Maybe even some lab work.

    A solo practice is that, you focus on your patients.

    I would think you could teach and run your own practice at the same time. That is what I plan on doing. I know I won't teach full-time, but I would like to be a professor, a clinician, and maybe run a small business on the side (some sort of Internet based consulting firm).
     
  4. KempDrumsalot

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    I also am curious about academic medicine. I plan to work at a hospital, but if I wasn't associated with the school, I wouldn't help new doctors correct?
     
  5. tennisball80

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    Is it true many M.D./Ph.Ds are the ones who do academic medicine ?
     
  6. theslave

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    From my understanding, when a doctor has an MD/Ph.D., they chose one over the other. Meaning, most of their time is either spent in the lab or in the clinic. A MD and a MD/Ph.D. can do academic medicine. There really are not that many MD/Ph.D's out there...for very good reasons.
     
  7. smq123

    smq123 John William Waterhouse
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    I think you're confused as to what defines "academics" from "private practice."

    In academics, you are a physician who is employed by a hospital and/or a medical school. You may also have research interests on the side. Your daily responsibilities will involve taking care of patients, supervising residents and fellows, and possibly writing scholarly journal articles, mentoring research projects, etc. You might also take a role in teaching medical students (such as coordinating a medical school rotation, etc.)

    In private practice, you are a physician who is employed either by your own practice, or (as is MUCH more common nowadays) as a partner in a group practice. You're not employed by the hospital, so you (and your partners) are responsible for generating enough money to pay for the office space, for electricity, for supplies, for nursing staff, for malpractice insurance, etc. You may or may not supervise residents at all. You will see a lot of patients in the office, and hope that you've seen enough to make enough money to cover your expenses for that month.

    Running a solo practice is becoming less common nowadays.

    In suburban or rural areas, the local private practice physicians are also asked to take care of some patients in the nearby hospital. They may be asked to round in the ICU in the morning, for instance, or they may be required to be reachable by phone/beeper all night long, in case a patient comes into the ER and needs their assistance. (For instance, this happens in pediatrics, where the ER physician on duty that night may not have much experience in taking care of children, and wants a pediatrician to come in.)

    In OB/gyn and surgery, they may also be required to help cover labor and delivery or trauma at night.

    Obviously, if you're running a solo practice, you have to do all those things BY YOURSELF. It's pretty clear why you'd want to have partners - to help divvy up the pain and duties.

    Nope. You wouldn't get money from teaching, unless you actually lectured to first or second year med students. Most people don't do that - most people tend to teach 3rd or 4th year med students, or residents.

    And even if you were to get paid for lecturing to med students, you wouldn't get paid a lot - you tend to give only 1-3 lectures a year. That's not enough to make a living off of. Your private practice income would still be your main source of money.

    So...yes. In general, you make less money in academics, but you have more vacation time, and you have fewer "business management" type headaches. You make more money in private practice (often times a LOT more money - which is why people go into private practice), but you have less vacation time, and you also have to know how to run a business. Or at least hire someone who does.

    In academic medicine, you get paid a flat rate. You don't get any money for overtime, and you get paid the same amount of money whether you see 5 patients or 50.

    In private practice, you get paid more if you see more patients. That's why you hear about some people who complain about private practice because they only have 5 minutes to see a patient.

    No, that is DEFINITELY not true.

    Private practice (not necessarily "solo practice") is a totally different beast. You do NOT "focus on your patients" - you focus on keeping your business afloat. The rent doesn't pay itself. Patients don't necessarily come to you off the street (i.e. you need to put in the time and effort to advertise and build a referral base from neighboring physicians). Your malpractice insurance certainly doesn't pay itself!

    Running a private practice is no different from running your own business, and that is one of the biggest attractions to academic medicine. In academics, you are protected from most of that - you don't have to worry about paying the electricity bill for the hospital, you don't have to worry who is paying the nurses and technicians, etc. And most hospitals cover your malpractice insurance as well.

    No, you might still teach residents and med students. It's a question of whether or not the hospital that you work at HAS residents - if they do, you may have to supervise/teach the med students and the residents.
     
  8. KempDrumsalot

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    Thanks for the response, I appreciate it! Sounds like a good deal to me, I would love to do something like academic medicine or just teaching 3rd/4th years and residents/fellows while working with patients (which is basically what the job is anyways). Will defiantly make sure to keep that option available.
     
  9. vasca

    vasca En la era postpasambre
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    As one of my former med school teachers jokingly told me several times, his living salary doesn't come from teaching med students because the pay is so bad. However, he only teaches a few classes and doesn't have an office in the faculty. He mostly does it because he likes the job.

    However, he has told me a handful of times that my university sometimes for "x" or "y" reason fails to pay him for several months at a time (luckily they do pay off what they owe him later on, but if academia were his main source of income, he'd be in serious trouble because of how irregular payments are).

    Also, if you teach med students at a faculty, you're just like any other teacher from other faculties. You usually don't get paid during vacation months (at least this is the rule of thumb in Mexico). It's only 2 months, but if you're living paycheck and losing those two months of work can be pretty sucky. Add the times the university has some problem and fails to pay for your 3 months and that's bad news.

    It is however pretty lucrative for hospitals as such to have med students and interns. Interns are there all year (holidays? birthdays? weddings? What are those things I've heard about???); so the hospital gets dough all year if they agree to train interns. Med students work for free and some students even show up at hospitals to do voluntary shifts for no pay in their free time so. Sure, med students at hospitals aren't there during expected holidays, but for just a rather small amount of time devoted to giving them classes, academic teachers get decent pay to add to the pay they get for their regular work at the hospital.

    I'd find a private practise doctor as an academic to be out of reality. Unless it's a family practise rotation during med school's clinical years, it's not the kind of right setting to train students. I can see it sort of work if the physician combines academia at universities and his own practise. Academia during the morning, work at their practise in the afternoons; sometimes things are reversed and I had afternoon classes with doctors coming back from their own practise.

    And yeah, people who think a solo doctor can attend their own business without ever getting business administration classes are just dreaming. Renting a place and paying the bills necesary to keep the water, electricity, phone, nurse & secretary salaries would force the poor sap to be working insanely long hours just to make ends meet for that month.
     

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