Clinician Job Satisfaction in Corporate & Privately Owned Practices

Josh Vaisman, MAPPCP (PgD), Flourish Veterinary Consulting, Boulder, Colorado

ArticleLast Updated December 20233 min read
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In the Literature

Kogan LR, Rishniw M. Differences in perceptions and satisfaction exist among veterinarians employed at corporate versus privately owned veterinary clinics. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2023;261(12):1838-1846. doi:10.2460/javma.23.06.0326

The Research …

Trends in veterinary practice ownership have shifted dramatically as corporate consolidation has grown, with an estimated 25% of general practices and 75% of specialty and emergency practices currently owned by corporate entities.1,2 Common anecdotal narratives have emerged regarding the potential benefits and drawbacks of working in corporate practice. Suggested benefits include predictable hours, consistent mentorship, and professional development opportunities.3,4 Suggested drawbacks include detachment between leadership and employees, increased bureaucracy, and a work environment more focused on profit than culture and values.3-5  

This study compared views of clinicians working in corporate and private practice to help inform employment decisions. An online survey measured satisfaction with benefits (eg, health and disability insurance, wellness programs), satisfaction with the workplace (eg, hospital workflow, scheduled hours), amount of perceived pressure to generate revenue, and personal preference for working in private versus corporate practice.

Of 896 respondents, 68.1% (610) reported currently working in a corporate practice and 31.9% (286) in private practice. Although participants reported receiving more individual benefits in corporate practice, no significant difference in benefit satisfaction was found between groups. Clinicians in private practice reported greater satisfaction with workplace factors than those working in corporate practice, and clinicians in corporate practice reported feeling more pressure to generate revenue than those in private practice. Participants were more likely to prefer private over corporate practice (55.1% vs 11.6%), with 24.9% having no preference, and 8.4% indicating they did not know.

… The Takeaways

Key pearls to put into practice:

  • Corporate practices are anecdotally believed to offer more benefits than private practice. This study confirmed that clinicians in corporate practice were more likely to receive various insurance benefits and have access to wellness programs, continuing education funds, and other fringe benefits.

  • Corporate practices are also anecdotally believed to offer more predictable and manageable work hours than private practice; however, this study found no difference in work schedule satisfaction between corporate and private practice respondents. In addition, no difference was noted in participant satisfaction with practice management efficiency, suggesting trained leadership in private practice is as effective as in corporate practice.

  • The authors suggested factors that may predict preference for private practice based on participant responses: desire to feel known by upper management, positive hospital culture, autonomy, access to mentorship, and less pressure to generate revenue and see more clients.

  • Based on this study, consideration for job opportunities should include compensation, benefits, and workplace environment factors in each potential workplace, whether corporate or private practice.