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 Selecting Your Career Path: Partner or Employee? - Continued

With the right circumstances, however, partnership offers grand rewards. With partner status comes a say in business decisions. Many physicians also feel that partnership earns the respect of their colleagues and their communities. And, in a profitable practice, partners are not only able to earn higher income, but they can also build up equity for retirement, where as employees must rely on their 401k plans.

It should go without saying that the duties and rewards of partnership vary greatly among practices. Practice size, location, specialty and leadership are all factors that determine what is expected of a partner in a given practice. In general, partners in smaller practices will have a greater role and more responsibilities, whereas partners in larger practices have more leeway in determining their level of involvement. Much like your decision as to which type of practice setting is right for you, the size and atmosphere of the practice you select should be based on what fits your personality and work style.

If the practice with which you are interviewing has a partnership track, the interview is a perfect time to discuss the length of the track and how their buy-in process works. Typically, two to three years is about average. After the practice presents you with a partnership offer, it is always a good idea for you to enlist the help of an attorney, accountant or other consultant to review the practice’s books.

Practices vary in their buy-in methodologies, so it is difficult to define a “standard” process. However, it is good to know that several things can influence the buy-in price, including tangible assets, accounts receivable, goodwill (depending on the specialty), ancillaries and/or real estate. Again, these elements will vary by practice.

As the economy and market trends continue to change, so will the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a partner or remaining an employee. For more information about selecting a practice and other relevant career information, visit NewPhysician’s resource library or contact a Merritt Hawkins & Associates consultant to discuss opportunities in your specialty.

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