As a qualified GP, your career options typically involve one of two routes – join a practice as a salaried staff member or take a role that involves share of the billings instead of a salary.
What are the pros and cons? Why would a GP choose one route over the other? That comes down to your individual wants, needs and desires as well as your current financial state and means.
Let’s explore the key considerations factors for both routes:
Salaried GP role
Practitioners in the early stages of their career tend to particularly favour this route as they build their medical reputation, experience and skills.
Avoiding additional responsibilities
The role of a GP can be quite the intensive and testing role as it is so many can be keen to avoid the additional responsibilities of becoming a partner, especially as they settle into the early years of their career. Despite the potential greater financial reward, the additional responsibility of being a business partner can appear not worthwhile enough for some GPs.
Guaranteed financial position
A foray into becoming a partner in any business requires the need for financial backing. Should the practice enter financial struggle, you need to have a strong level of financial support available to guide you through.
Without this, the profit share route is not very viable. There also isn’t the guaranteed promise of a wage every week and if this is something you need to depend on, then a salaried role is the better route for you.
Profit-sharing G.P. roles can often require a greater depth of experience than salaried roles so for practitioners early in their career, they will often have no choice but to focus on building their experience in the field through salaried roles until they reach the experience quota for consideration for a practice partnership.
The profit share route is most attractive to those who, like any business partnership, want to run their own business and shape their practice to be run and perceived how they want it to.
Practice partnerships can enable more control of the hours and days you work, and of course, the location, which can be particularly important for practitioners with families and/or who are later in their careers.
There are typically two drivers which will ultimately impact on your decision to become a profit share partner:
For a practice in its infancy, even in an area of urgent need, you will need to expect to wait some time before enjoying an enviable financial pay-off.
For some however, the opportunity to get in as a partner with a practice from the start can prove attractive as they will maintain the most significant influence in the long term. They will also get the opportunity to create and shape a practice how they see fit.
For others, they may prefer to seek a partnership with a firmly established general practice. The downside here is that these may be harder to come by and the partnership offered may be at a lower percentage share and you may need to bide your time before becoming a more significant partner.
Agreed session share split
For a profit share partnership to be most financially beneficial, you will need to have an agreeable session share split in place, where all GPs in the practice agree to split a % of all sessions booked in. Senior or established partners may seek a more significant % to increase their financial return.
Generally, it is the partners in practices will assume greater liability in cases taken against the practice, even greater than a salaried employee a case is centred around. This is where ensuring joint indemnity liability is key across all partners, so ensure no one partner will ever be tied with carried a potentially significant financial setback.
And so, just like many career paths, the choice to take up a salaried vs. a profit-sharing GP role will come down largely to an individual’s own goals, circumstances and position.
Dr Schultz spent 22 years working in psychiatry and then went on to qualify as a lawyer. He has spent 34 years helping people solve problems and the unique combination of medicine, psychiatry, law and mediation provides a unique academic and practical approach to life's challenges.