Why doctors and hospitals are hooking up again
The upswing in hospital employment partly reflects the desire of many younger doctors to avoid running their own practice—and running themselves into the ground. "There's a shift in mindset," says Gee. "Doctors coming out of medical school are more interested in reasonable hours."
For newly minted doctors and veterans alike, the high cost of malpractice coverage can tip the scales away from self-employment. Hospitals are often willing to pay malpractice premiums for the physicians they hire, especially in smaller communities that can't afford to lose surgical specialists, says Mark Smith, executive vice president of Merritt, Hawkins.
Shortages of surgical specialists add force to the new wave of hiring. It's hard to operate a hospital if there's no orthopedic surgeon on staff. In particular, hospitals feel hard-pressed to provide specialty coverage for their emergency departments. Lawsuit-wary—and just plain weary—physicians are becoming so loathe to pull this duty that they have to be paid handsomely to sign on. Hospitals can make ED call part of the job description of an employed physician.