Two sides to every coin: Assessing the effects of moving physicians to employment contracts

Rachel Gifford*, Eric Molleman, Taco van der Vaart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


There is a growing trend of physicians becoming employees of hospital systems and employment is viewed as a mechanism to help achieve health system goals. Yet, the research is mixed on the effects of moving physicians to employment models. While the literature has traditionally placed such forms of employment relationships in opposition to professional autonomy, it has often overlooked the effects on other professional values and there is little empirical work that actually assesses how such a shift affects and is perceived by clinicians themselves. To address these gaps, we conducted a mixed method study at one hospital that recently moved all formerly selfemployed physicians to employment contracts. We interviewed physicians to understand how the shift into employment was perceived to influence their work in three domains: the patient domain, the individual domain and the organizational domain. We then conducted a follow-up survey across both formerly employed and selfemployed physicians to test our initial findings. We find both positive and negative effects in different domains, offering insights into the mixed results found in the current literature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114564
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2022


  • Physicians
  • Hospitals
  • Funding models
  • Case studies
  • Qualitative methods


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