As hospitals ramp up hiring, one in two doctors remains self-employed

Most specialty surgeons, anesthesiologists are self-employed

Although a growing number of doctors are joining hospital staffs, more than 53% still fully or partially owned their own practice in 2012, according to a new study from the American Medical Association (AMA).

For their study, AMA researchers surveyed physician practices and used 2012 American Hospital Association data to determine the percentage of physicians who remain self-employed. They found that:

  • 53% of physicians were full or part owners of a practice;
  • 42% were employees; and
  • 5% were independent contractors.

The researchers noted a significant decrease in the percentage of self-employed doctors: In 1983, 75.8% of physicians were self-employed.

AMA researchers also broke down the data by specialty and found that some were more likely to own their own practice than work for a hospital:

  • 71.9% of specialty surgeons were practice owners;
  • 68.7% of anesthesiologists were practice owners; and
  • 63.6% of radiologists were practice owners.

In other specialties, most physicians were employees or independent contractor, according to AMA:

  • 62.7% of pediatricians were employees or independent contractors;
  • 61.7% of emergency medicines physicians were employees or independent contractors; ands
  • 60.2% of family practices physicians were employees or independent contractors.

AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven said, "To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the death of private practice medicine have been greatly exaggerated" (Lowes, Medscape Medical News, 9/18).

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that 42% of physicians were employed by hospitals. The Daily Briefing regrets the error.


Next in the Daily Briefing

NYT: Medicine has a crisis of meaning—but the 'Healer's Art' can overcome it

Read now