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The Differences between Working in Private Practices vs. Clinics/Hospitals

When I entered the world of medicine, I knew I wanted to deliver high-quality healthcare to my community. The only issue was that I didn’t know which workplace environment would best fit my goals and the lifestyle I desired. Through clinical practice and networking with other physicians, the similarities and differences became clear to me. If you are searching for your ideal niche, read on to learn about the differences between working at a private practice, clinic, and hospital.

 I didn’t know which workplace environment would best fit my goals..

 
Hours

From my experience, this will entirely depend on your specialty and personal goals. In general, if you prefer to have very structured daytime hours and a scheduled lunch break at the same time each day, then a private practice may be the best option for you.

Working at a hospital can be unpredictable at times. There may be days when you must arrive early or stay late

In contrast, working at a hospital can be unpredictable at times. There may be days when you must arrive early or stay late, depending on the status of your patients and the ease of shift change. The hours at a clinic tend to fall somewhere in between those of a private practice and hospital, since clinics are essentially a healthcare center in the form of an outpatient setting.

 
Day-to-Day Variety

Depending on your specialty, you may or may not see a wide spectrum of cases in a private practice or clinic. For example, my colleague who works at a Family Medicine clinic treats children and adults for all kinds of medical conditions ranging from musculoskeletal issues to neurological conditions.

In contrast, providers who specialize in neurology, cardiology or other specialties deal mainly with conditions involving one body system. Overall, you will be managing mild to moderate presentations at a private practice or clinic. On the other hand, working at a hospital entails treating severe medical conditions and acute exacerbations.

You will be managing mild to moderate presentations at a private practice or clinic

You will have to be on your toes at the hospital, since hospitalized patients can decompensate at any moment. Since patients with severe illnesses present to the hospital, you will naturally see a variety of clinical pathologies.

 
Relationship with Patients

In my opinion, one of the most rewarding aspects of working in the private practice setting is that you have the privilege of forming a relationship with patients.

One of the most rewarding aspects of working in the private practice setting is that you have the privilege of forming a relationship with patients

Private practices are where most patients in the community will go if they have a mild to moderate illness. This means that you may see the same patient or their family multiple times for treatment, follow-up and maintenance, or new conditions.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are working at a clinic or hospital, you may not get the chance to follow-up with the patient who came in the other week for an acute condition. These patients will usually instead follow up with their primary care providers. However, you can still show empathy and establish a rapport with your patient if you are working at a clinic or hospital.

Navin Ramchandani, MD
About the author

Dr. Navin Ramchandani is a Medical Doctor, Diagnostician and Owner of R&R Medical Centre in Barbados. He is also an Advanced Pediatric Life Support (APLS) International instructor with the Advanced Life Support Group (ALSG), and a Pediatric BASIC (Basic Assessment and Support in Intensive Care) international instructor. His passion is diagnosing and treating/helping people with complicated health issues to improve their overall health and quality of life.

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