The Physician Philosopher Podcast
Should a Doctor Go Into Academics or Private Practice?
In medicine, there’s a classic debate between academic versus private practice. A lot of it focuses on the financial aspect. Of course, finances are important. But there are other components of this discussion that are infinitely more important than money.
Academic jobs for doctors have their appeal
Many of us doctors have student loans, especially some of the younger doctors, because medical school tuition has skyrocketed and doctors today pay more for their education than in years past. If you’re someone who has student loans, one of the things to consider is whether you’re going to try to get your student loans forgiven.
Because many qualifying academic institutions offer public service loan forgiveness.
Depending on your individual financial status, taking a position in academics could be well worth the time investment when you know potentially hundreds of thousands of loan dollars can be forgiven.
But private practice offers benefits, too
Unless you want to be near a big academic center, a private practice career tends to provide more flexibility in terms of location, because there are doctors’ offices and hospitals all over the country that don’t necessarily exist in big cities.
I tell my residents that academics is about depth and private practice is about breadth. In a lot of specialist fields, the private practice opportunities can provide some of that breadth. What you choose really depends on your preferences and how you feel you can work best in a given environment when weighed against all the factors that are important to you.
But at the end of the day: when choosing a job, make sure you think through the worst-case scenario before saying “yes”.
- A tool I use with my coaching clients to help you think through any job decision
- An in-depth perspective about the benefits (and drawbacks) of going into academics as well as joining private practice
- Physician-specific finance and career factors you should consider as you’re making your job decisions
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