Why practicing medicine privately at home is still a (difficult) option?

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Christos Tsagkaris, a fifth-year medical student at the University of Crete, Faculty of
Medicine, Heraklion, Greece. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


In a debate between two parties supporting private practice at home and practicing healthcare wherever in the world is needed respectively, the second party would be in a favorable position. The latter requires commitment, voluntary attitude and out-of-the-box mindset. On the contrary, private practice at home is generally regarded as a well-rounded, profitable activity. (1)

Actually, there are considerable challenges in contemporary private practice that one should realize and counteract in order to act as a good healthcare professional. Naturally, this debate concerns physicians of all age groups but for the sake of brevity, we will focus on young doctors.

Practicing medicine in the private sector – either at a private practice or at a private hospital setting – is challenging for a newcomer. To gain patients’ and colleagues’ trust requires being punctual and careful, updated and polite at the same time. To gain recognition – let alone to stand out – one ought to combine all the aforementioned with innovative attitude and willingness to work overtime, get acquainted with new techniques and sharpen his networking skills all the time. All the aforementioned consist of a considerable burden for a young doctor with poor connections and small clinical experience. (2,3)

Moreover, this kind of medicine is not always practiced in urban centers with highly equipped facilities. Setting up your practice from zero in remote village or island or working in a private facility during the touristic period is not exactly what someone has been trained for in med-school. It takes a lot of effort to offer evidence based and compassionate healthcare in this setting and this happens quite often in many countries such as Greece. Rural and remote areas of one’s home country are also places in need of care. Unfortunately handling complicated cases with limited equipment or accompanying severely ill people to central healthcare facilities is often comparable to offering healthcare in developing countries. (4)

Last but not least, young doctors nowadays have the chance to break the norms and change the way medicine is practiced in the private sector at home. Private care is generally perceived as a professional activity where doctors and patients act as providers and clients. Excelling in this field is usually connected to marketing and networking. In many cases it has been reported that young doctors are supposed to act under the supervision and the orders of well-known physicians from academia or the public sector who move to the private sector after their retirement. (5) While supervision, lifelong learning and cooperation are always necessary, young doctors should work to gain a greater impact and autonomy in the private sector. After all they are the ones who can incorporate innovative trends such as telemedicine, internet of things or human machine interaction to every day practice. Moreover they can enhance the notion of social entrepreneurship by offering free consultations and getting involved in prevention and advocacy campaigns. (6)

All in all, practicing medicine privately at home can be a challenging option. Young doctors often need to combine the attitude of a volunteer and the mindset of an entrepreneur to make a positive impact in this field.

References

  1. Merritt Hawkins, Health Reform and the Decline of Private Physician Practice: A White Paper Examining the Effects of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act On Physician Practices in the United States, 2010, Accessed on July 2019, Available here
  2. Cullen TJ, Hart LG, Whitcomb, ME, Rosenblatt, RA. The National Health Services Corps: rural physician service and retention. J AM Board of Fam Practice. 1997 July-Aug; 10(4): 272-9.
  3. Reed Wilson, Why Private Practice Is Dying, Forbes, Published on Sep 7, 2016, Accessed on July 24, 2019, Available here
  4. Berger KM, Wood JLN, Jenkins B, (…) Hayman DTS, Policy and Science for Global Health Security: Shaping the Course of International Health, Trop Med Infect Dis. 2019 Apr 10;4(2).
  5. Cardona C, Travis DA, Berger K, Coat G, Kennedy S, Steer CJ, Murtaugh MP, Sriramarao P. Advancing One Health Policy and Implementation Through the Concept of One Medicine One Science. Glob Adv Health Med. 2015 Sep;4(5):50-4. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2015.053.
  6. Simmons J. Primary care needs new innovations to meet growing demand. HealthLeaders. May 27, 2010.

About the author

Christos Tsagkaris is a fifth-year medical student at the University of Crete, Faculty of
Medicine, Heraklion, Greece. He serves as a Youth Ambassador for the Association of
European Cancer Leagues. He also serves as Editor in Chief of NovelMeds students
magazine, and as an author and reviewer in the European Student Think Tank.

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