Working as a Doctor in a Public Hospital vs a Private Hospital

Hospital corridor
Most countries have both public and private hospitals. In Canada, 70% of health care is public sector funded and 30% paid for by private insurance or out-of-pocket. A 2014 survey showed that in the US there were 5,686 hospitals of which 1,060 were private. In Australia private hospitals undertake the majority of in-hospital chemotherapy, hip and knee surgery, eye surgery, and in-patient rehabilitation.
The type of environment you want to work in is important when considering your future but when it comes to public hospital vs private hospital, which is better?


Private and public hospitals can be diverse in size, however public hospitals tend to be larger than private hospitals and offer a wider range of services. Doctors working in a public hospital also tend to see a more diverse population as private hospitals are usually only accessible by those who have appropriate insurance or can afford to pay for treatment.

An advantage of working in a private hospital over a public hospital is that private hospitals often have better amenities and more up to date technology. Doctor-to-patient ratios tend to be smaller in a private hospital and nurses also typically only have a few patients to care for at a time. Waiting times for patients are usually shorter and care can be more personalised.

Whereas most public hospitals are open 24/7, some private hospitals provide a day only service so it is possible to work a 9-5 week and focus on a specialty rather than doing rounds, attending meetings, and training junior staff. Public hospitals typically face staff shortages more often than private hospitals which can impact negatively on workload as well as see an increase in overtime and being on-call for doctors. Rosters can be changed at relatively short notice which impacts on a doctor’s ability to plan.

When asked about public hospital vs private hospital, doctors currently working in a public hospital often say they enjoy the amicable relationships with colleagues and more opportunity to get involved in research while doctors working in a private hospital say they appreciate more freedom due to less bureaucracy.

In many specialties, salary is higher when working in a private hospital but working in a public hospital can offer greater job security and team-based support. Doctors working in a private hospital need to find someone else to take care of their patients when they take leave and are also usually responsible for funding their own training.

When it comes to public hospital vs private hospital, the right choice for you depends on your desired clientele and work style. HealthStaff Recruitment have positions for doctors in both the public and private sector so check out our medical job vacancies today.