Challenges and Experiences of Young Medical Specialists in Establishing Private Clinical Practice


Background: The field of medicine is constantly changing. Notable changes occur in the patterns of clinical practice, business of medicine, shift in demographics/generation of the health care workforce, emergence of sub-specialization; and advances in research and technology. These changes can affect the way young physicians establish their practice and this is an area not addressed by the medical education and training.

Purpose: There is little data in the literature regarding the experience of young physicians in establishing clinical practice. This study was undertaken to answer the central question: Among physicians in the field of Internal Medicine with or without subspecialty who graduated from training in 2013 to 2018, what were the issues and challenges that they faced as they established their clinical practice in the urban or mixed setting? 

Methodology: Qualitative research-case study; Key informant interview was conducted among junior Internal Medicine consultants who satisfied the inclusion criteria.  Data analysis used thematic analysis consisting of reading, writing notes, describing, and classifying transcripts according to categories and themes. 

Results: After a comprehensive analysis of narratives, five emergent themes surfaced: “Tough Days” (Period of figuring out the system; Need for Self-introduction; Few patients and Feelings of frustration and depression); “Torn and Divided” (Unpredictable work schedule and workload; Lack of time for issues outside career); “Temporary Debt” (Large start-up cost; Expensive maintenance); “Difficult but Tolerable” (Family support; Call-a-colleague; Debt of gratitude to mentors) and lastly “Dreams and To-do’s”.

Conclusions: Our respondents have experienced substantial challenges in starting clinical practice. Learning the ways of the healthcare business, effectively promoting oneself to the community, dealing with the emotional turmoil of having few patients, coming up with a strategic schedule and area of practice, and looking for funds and paying it back, were the challenges and experiences of these young medical specialists as they establish their careers in the urban and/or rural setting.


Key words: clinical practice, challenges, start-up, establishing practice

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