Let’s imagine you landed your first job in a private gastroenterology practice or are trying to find the perfect job that allows you to put your energy toward your passions. And, like many GI doctors, you spent additional time in your fellowship training focusing on a specific interest – whether inflammatory bowel disease, advanced endoscopy, motility, hepatology, or maybe the lesser-traveled paths of weight management, geriatrics, or public policy.
Perhaps you haven’t taken an extra year of training, but you have a desire to specialize. What steps should you take to create your own niche in a private practice? How do you go about growing a practice that allows you to utilize your training?
Why specialize? Know your market!
Without a focus, unless you plan to work in an underserved area or to take over a retiring physician’s practice, a generalist position can be challenging because the demand for your skills may not be met with the supply of patients. Much like in any business, the more focused you are, the more you have a differentiator that separates you from your colleagues, increasing your chances of success.
With specialization, however, comes the importance of understanding your patient catchment area. If your focus is highly specialized and serves a less-diagnosed entity, you’ll need a larger catchment area or you won’t have the volume of patients. Also, be mindful about an oversupply of subspecialists in your given area. If you are the third or fourth subspecialist in your group, the only way you will get patients is if you are far superior in talent or personality (sorry – not typical!) or your more senior colleagues are looking to turn over work to you.