Frustrations and disappointments are reported on both sides of the employment coin. Not running a practice doesn't necessarily translate to fewer administrative responsibilities.
Job satisfaction among employed versus self-employed physicians is virtually tied, at 72% and 73% respectively, according to Medscape's Employed Doctors Report 2016.
The nuances of what pleases and irks physicians in both camps, however, depend partly on where physicians practiced before and their expectations around new opportunities.
The national survey of 3,960 employed physicians and 1,027 employed physicians across specialties.
While 27% of employed physician respondents to the latest survey were previously self-employed, just 13% of self-employed respondents were previously employed.
This gap speaks not necessarily to a lack of interest among physicians in regaining autonomy over their practices, experts note, but to the difficulty of switching back to independent practice after signing employment contracts, many of which involve non-compete agreements.
Although 47% of respondents plan to stay in their current positions for at least another year, in part because of the aforementioned hurdles of leaving, the remaining 53% are contemplating some sort of change.
Among previously employed physicians who overcame such challenges to become self-employed, 71% say the move has increased their job satisfaction.
Conversely, only 40% of physicians who switched from self-employment to employment report greater happiness, perhaps skewed by the 13% of employed physicians who said it wasn't their choice to become employed (i.e., they were forced to sell for financial reasons or by being out-voted by partners).
Just 15% of employed physicians said they chose the route as a means to cut down on their administrative responsibilities, compared to 29% in the 2014 survey.
This drop may illustrate physicians' realization that not running a practice doesn't necessarily translate to less paperwork, as employed physicians still have to manage referrals, EHR documentation, and quality reporting, sometimes even more so than in private practice.
While a combined 40% of employed physicians frequently (7%) or occasionally (35%) disagree with their employers about patient care, a total of 61% report disagreements with employers about workplace policy, particularly regarding hiring and firing, according to the report.
Nonetheless, almost two-thirds (63%) of employed physicians report a good relationship with leadership, possibly due to more physicians getting a seat at the table themselves as organizations increasingly recruit doctors into leadership roles.