If you’re a group practice owner, you may wonder, “Why would a therapist want to work for me instead of starting their own practice?” Or if you are a clinician, you may be considering, “Why would I join a group practice when I can do it on my own?”
This thought can be an easy one to fall into, especially if you have seen success with starting a solo practice. However, this idea comes from an entrepreneurial mindset, and it isn’t taking into account the fact that not everyone has the desire or ability to own their own business.
That’s why today we are highlighting some reasons why clinicians choose to work in group practices.
COVID Shifted Priorities for Clinicians
It is important to consider the ways the pandemic has affected the current mindset of clinicians and their employment choices.
When the entire world moved inside, it also made it easier for clinicians to start a solo practice. People could just open their computer from home and get started without a business plan, marketing strategy, or funds. In addition, the supply and demand of therapists was so high that they didn’t really need to spend much time marketing to acquire a full caseload.
That being said, because of physical limitations caused by COVID, there was also a shift to more focus on flexibility, work from home options, stable pay and benefits over pre-COVID desires. Clinicians are beginning to search for practices that not only pay well but offer these additional priorities. That stability is something that solo practices cannot guarantee.
Managing a Solo Practice is Taxing
Now, we are currently seeing a shift with increased hiring prospects as those who started practices during the pandemic are feeling the weight of all that comes with running a business. Many clinicians are realizing that they want to do less of the business, administrative, and non-direct-pay work that business ownership comes with.
One major benefit of employment in a group practice is that most employees have a minimal amount of overhead work. Without the added responsibility of managing the entirety of the business, clinicians working with a group practice generally face less burnout, leading to greater job satisfaction and career sustainability.
A solo practitioner is a business owner. That means they are managing all aspects of their business on top of seeing clients. A typical solo practice owner will spend around 12 hours a week marketing, networking, doing notes, collaborating, maintaining a website, social media, answering phones, managing billing, communicating with accountants, and searching for office space, just to name a few.
In contrast, for every 20 hours of client sessions, a clinician in a group practice will perform an additional two hours of overhead work on average (i.e., notes, collaboration, and in some cases, marketing).
*An average solo practice owner will spend around 30% of their time managing their business/overhead work and a typical employee will spend 10% of their time doing non-client facing work.
This time and energy spent on non-client facing work plays a huge factor in many clinicians' choice to work with a group practice. When considering the pay for ALL work done, including time spent managing a solo practice, oftentimes the hourly pay is lower for a solo practitioner than for one working with a group practice.
The pay as a solo practitioner is also dependent on the number of clients they are able to see, which may not always be stable depending on various factors. In comparison, working in a group practice, the position can be guaranteed or salaried and not dependent on clients seen, bringing a more stable income and peace of mind.
Many practices can offer benefits that solo practitioners just don’t have or can’t afford. These may include paid time off, sick time, retirement matching, health insurance, supervision, continuing education stipends, training, life insurance, short-term disability, and more. With so many benefits potentially available, this is often the deciding factor for clinicians choosing to work with a group practice.
Collaboration and Work Environment
Working as a solo practitioner can be lonely. Many can attest that even though working alone has its upside, many clinicians want to collaborate and not work in solitude. When working with a group practice, clinicians not only have access to built-in administrative support, but they also have the opportunity to collaborate with those in similar roles as them. However, when working solo, all problem-solving falls on the clinician’s shoulders.
In a group practice, clinicians aren’t forced to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch to build a business. They come right into a well-oiled machine that has all of it figured out, leaving them more time and energy to focus on their clients.