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Concierge Doctor Guide: Definition, Career Path, and Salary

In a recent post, I talked about five of the top reasons that doctors quit their jobs, including desiring a better work/life balance, feeling overburdened by administrative tasks, and not feeling supported by their administration.

These outcomes can be very disheartening for physicians who otherwise feel called to help people and wish to stay involved in a field where they can serve others.

If this is hitting close to home, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to quit being a doctor. It’s possible that transitioning to a concierge model– where you offer direct services to patients in exchange for an upfront fee– could be the perfect format for you.

Whether you team up with a concierge medicine company, start your own concierge practice, or implement a hybrid model at your existing practice, becoming a concierge doctor can mean fewer patients, a higher salary, better work-life balance, and more autonomy.

What Is a Concierge Doctor?

Concierge doctors, also known as personalized medical service providers or direct primary care (DPC) providers, offer their services directly to patients in exchange for a (typically monthly) upfront fee.

A Concierge Doctor With a Patient

In the past, the services of concierge doctors were only accessible to the wealthiest of patients. However, this form of medicine has become increasingly affordable to the general population.

What Do Concierge Doctors Do?

Concierge doctors are often physicians who choose to start a private practice that can serve a limited number of patients. Offering personalized care and direct access, these doctors usually only provide services for a fraction of the number of patients they would in a more traditional office practice. Not only does this mean that they can give each patient more attention and be more available to them when necessary, but it also reduces the amount of paperwork required in relation to insurance payouts.

A Concierge Doctor Meeting With a Patient

A concierge physician is able to provide all the same services that a primary care doctor would, including conducting yearly physical exams and administering lab tests. They also commonly offer minor urgent care services and diagnostic screenings. That being said, these doctors don’t often perform major medical procedures or provide more specialized treatments.

How to Become a Concierge Doctor: The Career Path

It requires the same training and licensing to become a concierge doctor as it does to become a physician who practices in a more traditional setting. It usually takes about eleven years of education after the completion of high school to become a general practitioner. Doctors who are licensed to practice medicine will go through:

  • Four years of undergraduate study
  • Four years of medical school
  • Three to eight years in a residency or internship
  • One year of fellowship after residency (optional)

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Applicants to medical schools are expected to have already earned a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. Most students will complete this stage in four years. Though you don’t have to major in a specific field to be accepted to medical school, students must have completed all basic math and English courses. Beyond that, they will typically have taken on a course load that heavily emphasizes basic sciences, including chemistry, biology, and physics.

A Doctor Earning a Degree

Students can work to gain valuable experience in a healthcare setting while they are pursuing their undergraduate degree by volunteering at local hospitals or clinics.

Complete a Medical School Program

The application process can be quite strenuous when one is trying to get into medical school– it usually requires Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores, recommendation letters, transcripts, and more. There will usually be an interview before a student is accepted.

It’s worth noting that some medical schools combine undergraduate degrees and medical school degrees in one program. These will normally be six or seven-year programs, saving students a year or two of schooling.

Completing a Medical School Program

In order to become a physician, students need to attend an accredited medical school. The first two years of medical school are typically taken up by classroom and laboratory work, while the latter two years often consist of working under the supervision of physicians in a clinic or hospital.

Complete a Residency Program

Once a student graduates from medical school and has received their M.D. or D.O., they will begin a residency program that can last from three to eight years, depending on their particular area of focus. For individuals who are interested in pursuing family practice or pediatrics, for example, the residency programs typically take three years.

A Residency Program

For individuals who choose not to go into a residency program after receiving their M.D., there are still some career options in the medical field, including some research career paths, teaching career paths, working as a physician assistant, and more. That being said, a person with an M.D. won’t be able to qualify for a state medical license if they don’t complete a residency.

Complete a Fellowship Program (If Applicable)

Doctors who are interested in practicing a highly specialized form of medicine will also participate in a fellowship program for another one to three years.

Completing a Fellowship Program

This is also an opportunity to receive additional Certificates of Added Qualifications (CAQs).

Become Licensed to Practice Medicine

Once the residency program is complete, it’s time to obtain an official license from the state where you intend to practice medicine. There are different requirements in each state. Beyond this, all physicians are required to complete a U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (for M.D.s) or a Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (for D.O.s).

Becoming Licensed to Practice Medicine

Though it’s optional, many doctors will choose to also become board-certified. This can help expand the career opportunities for doctors and their knowledge and skills.

Start a Concierge Practice

There are many different settings where physicians can work once they have become licensed to practice medicine, including clinical settings like hospitals and offices, as well as nonclinical settings like nonprofit organizations, government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies.

Others, however, will desire to have more control over their professional and personal life compared to what is usually afforded by one of these employment options. There are many opportunities for physicians to start their own businesses, one of which is to begin a concierge practice. At the same time, some physicians choose to team up with concierge medical companies that help find patients for doctors and deal with some of the billing and paperwork aspects of medical care.

A Concierge Practice

Starting a concierge practice will involve much research and planning, including developing a business plan that outlines goals, financial projections, pricing structure, marketing strategies, staffing requirements, and more. Consulting with an attorney specializing in healthcare will likely be necessary to ensure that you comply with all applicable regulations, laws, and licensing requirements, including restrictions on patient panels, contracts, and fee structures.

If you already have an existing client load, you can let them know that you are transitioning to a concierge practice and help them understand the benefits of this style of medical care. Typically, though, you will need to engage in marketing to attract new patients, including building a website, networking, implementing referral programs, and more.

Investing in practice management tools that will help streamline your administrative tasks and ensure efficiency in your operations will also be well worth it. 

How Much Does a Concierge Doctor Make?

The salary range for concierge doctors is often estimated to range from $150,000 to $300,000. That being said, a number of factors can influence the earning ability of concierge doctors, including the fee structure, number of patients, location, reputation and experience, services offered, and more.

According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary of a concierge doctor is $158,426 annually, with top earners making $300,000 a year.

Concierge Doctor Earnings

Of course, the amount of income a physician can make offering concierge services is going to depend on the number of patients they serve, along with a number of other factors. Some doctors choose to use the “full” model, meaning that their entire practice is transformed into the concierge format, allowing them to earn more revenue per patient and work at a slower pace.

On the other hand, some physicians choose a “hybrid” model where they continue to operate their practice in a traditional format while blocking off several hours a week to offer care to concierge patients. This can be an appealing option for doctors who are interested in transitioning to a concierge model but are concerned about taking a salary hit while they work to attract new patients.

The Benefits of Becoming a Concierge Doctor

Concierge medical services are becoming increasingly popular as patients are recognizing the many benefits, including enhanced access to care, more personalized and comprehensive care, and improved patient satisfaction. Patients who visit with concierge doctors often feel valued, heard, and well-cared for by their physician in comparison to more traditional practices.

At the same time, doctors are turning to concierge medicine because it better suits their professional goals and values as well as their desire for work-life balance. Let’s look at some of the benefits of becoming a concierge doctor to help you decide whether or not it could be a worthwhile career transition.

Increased Income

Though transitioning from working in a traditional practice to a concierge practice doesn’t necessarily mean a salary increase– there are too many factors on both ends to make that statement with certainty– there are definitely opportunities to increase income for some physicians by switching to a concierge model.

Increased Income

By charging a membership fee on top of traditional fee-for-service billing, concierge doctors with a full client load can potentially enjoy a more predictable income stream and higher earnings.

Improved Doctor-Patient Relationships

One major benefit of becoming a concierge doctor is that you can give each patient more attention because you can keep a smaller patient panel.

An Improved Doctor-Patient Relationship

This means that the relationships you build with each patient can be much stronger, and you can afford to give each patient more time to answer their questions, hear their concerns, and help them create a treatment plan that best serves them.

Reduced Patient Load

Having fewer patients to whom doctors can offer more in-depth, comprehensive, and personalized care is a huge advantage of concierge medicine.

A Doctor Helping a Patient

Many doctors struggle in traditional practice and hospital settings with the little time they dedicate to each patient. If you find yourself in this situation, concierge medicine might be the path for you.

Improved Work-Life Balance

You can achieve a more manageable workload as a concierge doctor thanks to reducing patient volume.

A Doctor With Improved Work-Life Balance

If you love being a doctor but are worried about the long-term effects of long hours and tons of stress, becoming a concierge doctor can offer some relief and a better work-life balance.

Burnout Prevention

The high levels of burnout in the healthcare industry won’t come as a surprise to any practicing physician. Becoming a concierge doctor means you can practice medicine in a way that better aligns with your professional goals, values, and personal life.

A Doctor Managing Burnout

Working in medicine is a marathon, not a sprint, and managing a smaller patient panel and having more control over your workload can significantly help to reduce burnout.

More Autonomy

Starting your own concierge practice means you have much more control over the care you offer.

A Doctor Managing Their Practice

If you feel pressured to see a high volume of patients and burdened by administrative tasks, you might find that offering concierge services offers you the autonomy you’re looking for.

Taking Control of Your Income, Practice, and Life

We all know that physician burnout has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., with long-term stress leading to emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and experiencing feelings of decreased personal achievement. This is truly a heartbreaking outcome for the individuals who entered the medical field to help people and bring relief to patients.

The good news is that there are many other career options for doctors who want to continue offering their knowledge, skills, and services to others without dealing with the looming threat of burnout and a poor work-life balance.

A Successful Concierge Doctor

After spending years in private practice, I decided to transition to helping other doctors build profitable businesses so they can regain control of their professional and personal lives. If you’re ready to live life and practice medicine on your own terms, I can help you build a profitable, passion-based business.