The odds are that you are an employee. In 2016, for the first time ever, fewer than half of physicians in this country owned their own practice. There are numerous explanations for this shift away from independent ownership. But the bottom line is that more physicians are employees than owners (“For the first time, physician practice owners are not the majority,” By Brendan Murphy, AMA Wire, May 31, 2017). The transition to employee status doesn’t always go well.

While an increasing number of physicians are uninterested in or maybe even intimidated by the challenges of practice ownership, they seem to be even less interested in accepting the uncomfortable realities that can be associated with being an employee.

Practice ownership comes with a host of worries including cash flow, staffing, and overhead. On the other hand, an employee has only one critical concern: Can she trust her employer? You may not have considered your relationship with your employer in terms of trust. But I urge you to look at a recent commentary in Clinician Reviews by Randy D. Danielson, PhD, PA, DAAPA, titled, “Do You Trust Your Employer? (2018 Apr;28[4]:6-8). Dr. Danielson relates the experiences of a colleague who complains that the organization for which he worked completely lacked transparency of its goals and failed to provide accurate financial data. This combination of deficiencies prevented “providers from making a positive impact on cost containment.” The colleague added that the organization’s complex compensation formulas did “not account for the vagaries and complexities of health care.”

Do any of these complaints sound familiar to you? Do you share the same lack of trust in your employer that this provider has voiced? The remainder of Dr. Danielson’s commentary is a discussion of the concept of organizational trust and includes this unsurprising observation: “Lack of trust, particularly between management and employers, creates a hostile work environment in which stress levels are high and productivity is reduced.” It makes one wonder how much of the burnout epidemic among physicians and other providers might be the result of organizational distrust.

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