Practice owners no longer the physician majority

June 07, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Workforce Professional Development & Education 

For the first time, physicians who have an ownership stake in their practice are in the minority in the U.S., according to a study conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA). This is the first time that physician practice ownership dropped below 50 percent since AMA began documenting practice arrangement trends. AMA found that only 47.1 percent of physicians in 2016 had ownership stakes in their medical practice, down from 53.2 percent in 2012.

The fact that younger physicians are choosing to be employed rather than entering private practice has had a prominent impact on these numbers. Nearly two-thirds (65.1 percent) of physicians under age 40 were employees in 2016, compared to 51.3 percent in 2012. The share of employees among physicians ages 40 and older also increased between 2012 and 2016, but at a more modest pace than younger physicians.

Whether physicians are owners, employees or independent contractors varied widely across medical specialties in 2016. The surgical sub-specialties had the highest share of owners (59.3 percent), followed by radiology (56.3 percent). Emergency medicine had the lowest share of owners (27.9 percent) and the highest share of independent contractors (24.8 percent). Pediatrics was the specialty with the highest share of employed physicians (58.3 percent).

The study also found that 55.8 percent of physicians worked in medical practices that were wholly owned by physicians in 2016 – down from 60.1 percent in 2012.

 The new study is available to download from AMA website.


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