Ophthalmologists operating a small practice are looking for better patient relationships and independence.
Reviewed by Lisa M. Nijm, MD, JD
Running a solo or small practice today can be a challenge, and the question is whether it is sustainable. Judging from comments by experts, the short-term answer might be “no.” But not so fast, according to Lisa M. Nijm, MD, JD, who five years ago founded her own solo practice, Warrenville EyeCare and Lasik, Warrenville, IL.
She is also associate professor of ophthalmology, University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary. For one thing, young ophthalmologists deciding on their career direction have a distinct advantage over colleagues in most other specialties.
“We are one of the few specialties in medicine that has the luxury of not being connected to a hospital in most cases, and therefore we have more ability to pursue a solo practice,” Dr. Nijm said. “If you want to build your own business and you have the drive and entrepreneurial spirit to hang you own shingle, you can do it. Studies show a decreased rate of burnout and greater physician satisfaction in solo or small group practices.”
Dr. Nijm suggests that the first step when considering a solo practice is to do some serious soul searching. Physicians should consider what they are looking for in a practice day-to-day and whether this ideal is more likely to be found in an academic or private practice, a solo or group setting.
“The more that you self-reflect and develop a clearer picture of what you’re looking for, the better prepared you will be to evaluate if your expectations match those of the practice settings that you’re considering,” she said.
Dr. Nijm followed this advice when deciding to open her practice after having worked in both a small, ophthalmology-only group and a large multispecialty clinic. She was motivated by her desire to develop deeper relationships with her patients and maintain autonomy and independence while having the flexibility to adopt new technologies when she felt that it would best serve her patients.
Lisa M. Nijm, MD, JD
P: 630/393-7100; E: [email protected]
This article was adapted from Dr. Nijm’s presentation at the 2018 meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Dr. Nijm did not report any relevant financial relationships.