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New doctors have four main options when beginning their careers: starting a solo practice, entering a single-specialty group practice, taking a position with an academic practice or joining a multispecialty institution.
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Dane Christensen, M.D., chose the last - and for him, he says, it was the best choice he could have made.
Among the other major benefits Dr. Christensen like to pass along is the fact that unlike solo and smaller single-specialty group practices, a large multispecialty setting such as Park Nicollet comes complete with patients - no "marketing" needed.
"The day I started at Park Nicollet, I had a full schedule of patients," he says. "If you want to practice medicine and not have to worry about finding patients, this is a good setting. But you'd better learn everything you can, because in this kind of environment you'll see it all and do it all."
Many new doctors equate a large multispecialty practice with an HMO - a misconception Dr. Christensen likens to a myth that needs to be dispelled.
"Multispecialty does not equal an HMO, where, though things have begun to change, physicians are paid a flat salary no matter how many patients they see," he says. "In most multispecialty practices, the pay is purely productivity-based - the more patients I see, the more revenue I generate, the more I'm compensated. Of course, that's all within a context of providing high-quality care efficiently; it's not just a matter of seeing as many patients as you can."
Other benefits - quite literally, in the case of the following examples - of a large multispecialty practice are the top health coverage, retirement benefits and malpractice insurance Park Nicollet provides. According to Dr. Christensen, the malpractice insurance - particularly the kind his employer provides - is most crucial.
"Park Nicollet provides 'occurrence' malpractice insurance, which means I'm covered on a patient I cared for at Park Nicollet even if I leave for another clinic or to start my own practice, so I don't have to buy 'tail' coverage to be insured against malpractice suits if I were to leave," Dr. Christensen explains. "Solo and smaller single-specialty groups typically only offer the much more common 'claims made' coverage. Tail coverage can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000 a year - that's a significant cost that I don't have to worry about if I were to leave the clinic."
Another thing Dr. Christensen doesn't have to worry about should he decide to leave Park Nicollet is his ability to open a practice in the area. His contract has no noncompete clause.