The Survival of the Independent Pediatrician
After 44 years as an independent pediatrician, Rick Oken, M.D., offers a unique perspective on the forces shaping the field today. He advocates for a focus on quality care and deep, meaningful relationships with families even as the healthcare landscape continues to shift and change.
Rick Oken, MD, has seen more than a few things change in his 44 years as a practicing pediatrician. When he finished his residency training in the 1970s, he knew he wanted to build deep and lasting relationships with families, see kids grow up and start their own families, and maybe even treat the next generation of children. So he set up shop as a private practice in the Bay Area of San Francisco, California, and never looked back.
Now, he’s concerned that fewer and fewer young physicians are choosing this path. He sees a trend towards large entities, such as hospital and university-based systems, crowding out independent practitioners, in some cases putting pressure on them to join different tiers of employment within the system. And new physicians – motivated in part by student loan debt and a high cost of living in major metropolitan areas – are eschewing the risks involved with setting up their own business.
Stories and issues that matter most to
Sharing with you the deep dedication of pediatric care, as told by independent pediatricians living and practicing in a variety of different locations and with different perspectives.