Does Micropractice Lead to Macrosatisfaction?

Elizabeth Paddock, MD; Ronald J. Prince, MS; Meaghan Combs, MD, MPH; Melissa Stiles, MD


J Am Board Fam Med. 2013;26(5):525-528. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Physician quality of work life is a key factor in career choice, satisfaction, and retention. The majority of physicians are currently employed by large health care organizations where physician loss of autonomy is common, yet some physicians have opened micropractices. There have been no previous studies comparing physician satisfaction between employed physicians and micropractice physicians.

Methods: A previously validated survey of physician satisfaction was sent to 72 physicians practicing in a residency setting, 111 physicians in community, nonresidency setting, and 42 physicians in a micropractice setting.

Results: Physicians in micropractices had the lowest satisfaction with income, but the highest satisfaction with family time and the ability to provide continuity of care. Micropractice physicians rated the overall quality of medical care they provide higher than employed physicians. Micropractice physicians reported a much smaller scope of practice.

Conclusions: Overall, physicians in micropractices found more satisfaction in their work at the cost of decreased income and a narrower scope of practice.


Physician career satisfaction is low when there is a lack of control over the practice environment and increased perceived work demands.[1] Since the 1950s, many physicians have left solo practice for larger health care organizations, with decreased satisfaction.[2] Some physicians strive to achieve a practice with longer office visits, limited paperwork, and higher satisfaction using the micropractice model.[3] Micropractice physicians are independent practitioners who have low overhead, allowing for extended visit time with patients.[4] In our review of the literature, there were no studies comparing physician satisfaction between the micropractice model and larger practices. The purpose of our study was to examine this comparison.