Why become a practice owner?

College news

The College’s new Practice Ownership Guide outlines the benefits of practice ownership including autonomy, stability and financial reward. It also provides opportunities to develop new skills and can improve your understanding of and connection to the health system. 

As a practice owner, you have greater control over your time, what services your practice offers, which providers you use, who you work with and your practice’s working culture. 

Practice owner, Dr William Grove enjoys the flexibility practice ownership provides: “As the owner, I have total control over the organisation of my time. For example, I used to drop off my child early at 7.30am for school and wait to start work at the surgery at 9am. After speaking with the receptionist, who didn’t mind, I simply changed the hours of the surgery to open at 8am instead to suit me!”

Practice owners usually receive a return on investment over and above regular income. The College’s 2015 workforce survey demonstrated that practice owners earn more than employed GPs, even when income is adjusted for hours worked. The additional income received by the owner(s) compensates for the business risk and the cost of the use of personal capital in ownership.

As with any business proposition, it is important to assess the potential risks and rewards. Business ownership brings with it significant responsibility so should not be taken lightly. Business skills are generally not covered at medical school and are not extensively taught as part of the College’s training programme. This can make the business side of practice ownership daunting for some; however, it is important to remember that professional advice is readily available (accountants, business advisors, practice managers, lawyers) and that these skills can be developed over time.

“I suspect that if you make it through medical school in New Zealand, you are likely pretty independent. You would probably enjoy the autonomy that ownership brings and suit being the boss. I think I would now find it very difficult to be employed!” says Dr Grove.

With over 44% of current GPs expected to retire over the coming decades, there will be increased opportunity to buy into existing practices. 

The College has developed a member exclusive practice ownership guide to provide the next generation of GPs with an overview of what practice ownership may involve so that they can make more informed decisions about whether they would like to take up this opportunity.