I’m the other Dr. Asta. I work in my office, and I take care of well babies, babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, and children and young adults on the pediatric ward at John Muir Medical Center.
Parents ask me if I work for the hospital. The answer is no. I admit patients at John Muir where I have medical staff privileges. Privileges are permission to admit and care for patients in the hospital.
As an independent physician, I am not employed by a hospital or a medical system.
The way doctors practice medicine is changing. Once doctors ran practices—solo or as a group—and they had privileges at one or more hospitals. Some doctors mostly worked in the hospital, like anesthesiologists and surgeons, which others in pediatrics, cardiology, internal medicine saw patients in their offices and took care of patients admitted to the hospital.
Over half the doctors in the United States are now employees. Some work for independent groups, but more are employees by hospital systems. These doctors often work in hospital-owned spaces where the hospital system may add a facility charge to patient visits. These extra charges can be costly, and they are controversial because they add to the cost of health care.
As an independent physician like my dad, my office doesn’t charge facility fees. In the photograph he’s holding my niece who’s now quite a bit older and showing every sign of being the next doctor in the family.