Why a Community Hospital is the Right Place to Practice Medicine

community hospital

Article Written by “Dr Deane” Waldman, MD MBA and Curated by Jill Stagner

Horace Greeley is often credited with admonishing adventurous Americans, “Go West, young man, Go West!” A modern healthcare paraphrase might be, “Go Community, Young Doctor—You Will Be Glad You Did!”

Physicians finished with training have many options where to practice, but limited understanding of where to achieve the best balance. The answer is a community hospital.

Doctors from generalists to subspecialists all seek a proper relationship between professional life and personal life. The more they work, the better they do financially and the more time they have with patients. But…the more they work, the less time they have with family and the fewer opportunities to enjoy the benefits of those financial rewards.

Community hospital practice offers the optimal balance of personal and professional.

Start with respect. To the 1000-bed University hospital, the doctor is a fungible commodity. To patients, doctors are faceless, nameless impersonal entities among a myriad of providers. Doctors have to park four blocks away from the hospital and have to pay for the privilege.

At a 75-bed community hospital, the doctor has a parking space near the Doctors’ Entrance. At one community hospital, hospital staff used to wash all the cars in the doctors’ parking lot, automatically. Sadly, they stopped doing this years ago but to this day the food in that community hospital’s doctor’s dining room is a three-star restaurant—the antithesis of hospital cafeteria food.

At the community hospital, everyone knows the doctor’s name (and other personal details) from the CEO and CMO to the patients. They care for and about the doctor—make no mistake. At the University Hospital, they couldn’t care less.

Financially, doctors do better at a community hospital. The doctor is a prized asset. At the major medical center, doctors are simply one more cog in a massive bureaucratic machine.

Being a valued person at the community hospital carries another advantage of which the newbie MD may not be aware: protection. There are a host of federal mandates that govern physicians’ professional life from reporting functions to medical liability. Large, impersonal medical centers simply pass on all these onerous, unnecessary duties. When lawsuits come, hospital Risk Management is concerned with the institution, not the individual doctor.

The community hospital wants to make its doctors happy and to keep them there. Thus, they try to relieve to reduce the hassle as much as they can and defend their doctors vigorously when the medical negligence lawyer comes calling. 

Finally, community hospitals are outside of city center congestion or frankly rural. The lifestyle reflects that difference. Back in Chicago, a physician colleague and friend wanted the advantages of suburban living but practiced in a huge medical center in the downtown area. He had to plan his daily commute—90 minutes on a good day—around the traffic patterns and thus had to leave his beautiful home in Northfield at 5:30AM to minimize the driving time and the stop-start traffic he faced.

True, living near a community hospital makes it harder to use the amenities of the big city, but my friend in Northfield had the same disadvantage along with wasting all the time in his car that he can’t spend with family or with patients.  

Probably the greatest advantage of choosing a community hospital is connection with patients. The primary reason that people become doctors is the psychic reward. Doctors (just like nurses) feel good about themselves when they help others. The more time and closeness a care provider has with patients, the greater one’s professional satisfaction. The place to get the maximum psychic reward is a community hospital.

Elliot Health System is a community hospital. If you’d like to learn more about opportunities within their system, click the button below!

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