Public vs. Private: We weigh the pros and cons

Locum doctors

The decision between the public and private sectors can be an important choice you will face at some point in your career. Both paths offer unique benefits and challenges, influencing work-life balance, income potential, and professional growth. This article explores the pros and cons of working in public and private healthcare settings, providing insights to make an informed career choice.

Public sector: "The heart of healthcare"


  • Educational opportunities: Public hospitals are often affiliated with universities, offering ample opportunities for teaching and research. If you're passionate about academia, you'll find a fertile ground to mentor the next generation of medical professionals.

  • Diverse patient demography: Public facilities serve a broad spectrum of the population, exposing you to a wide range of medical conditions. This diversity enriches the clinical experience and hones diagnostic skills.

  • Structured career path: Public healthcare typically offers a clear progression route, with structured training and specialisation pathways. It’s an ideal setting for those looking to advance in specific medical fields.

  • Job security: Given their funding models, public hospitals tend to offer more stability and less impact from economic fluctuations than private practices.

  • Giving to those in need: Public healthcare provides the opportunity to serve a wider, often underprivileged, patient base.


  • Resource limitations: Budget constraints can affect patient care and innovation resources. You may face challenges due to outdated equipment or shortage of supplies.

  • Bureaucracy: Public healthcare systems are often entangled in red tape, which can potentially hinder swift decision-making or innovation.

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Private sector: "Personalising healthcare"


  • Higher earning potential: Private practice typically offers higher remuneration, with earnings directly linked to workload and specialisation. This could be a compelling draw.

  • State-of-the-art facilities: Private hospitals often boast the latest technology and equipment, facilitating advanced treatments and a comfortable working environment.

  • Autonomy: Private practice allows more control over your schedule, patient load, and focus areas. This autonomy can lead to a better work-life balance and job satisfaction.

  • Patient-centric care: With fewer patients in private settings, you can spend more time with each individual, offering personalised care and fostering stronger doctor-patient relationships.


  • Less diverse cases: The nature of private healthcare might limit exposure to a wide variety of cases, potentially narrowing clinical experience over time.

  • Financial risks: Private practice involves business aspects, such as managing overheads and navigating insurance complexities. Economic downturns can significantly affect income.

Blending the best of both worlds

Many doctors find fulfilment in combining both paths, enjoying the stability and diverse caseload of the public sector while appreciating the technological advancements and earning potential of private practice. This hybrid approach allows you to tailor your career path to personal or professional goals.

Locum work could be an ideal solution, bridging this gap and offering a unique blend of monetary gain and the chance to serve the broader community. It enables you to tailor your career to include engagements in both sectors, adjusting your schedules to fit personal preferences and financial needs.

Locuming offers an escape from the bureaucracy and administrative burdens often associated with permanent positions in both sectors. Freed from these constraints, you can concentrate on what you do best: providing high-quality patient care.

The wrap up:

Choosing locum roles in Australia or New Zealand’s state-of-the-art private hospitals allows doctors to work with cutting-edge medical technology and premium healthcare facilities. These institutions often boast advanced diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, allowing for innovative treatment approaches and a high standard of patient care. You can practice in environments where the latest medical research and technology are at your fingertips, from robotic surgery systems to the most sophisticated imaging technologies.

On the other hand, the public sector, particularly in rural and remote areas, embodies the essence of giving back and making a tangible difference in communities where healthcare resources are often stretched thin. It's about bridging healthcare gaps and bringing essential services to those who would otherwise struggle to access them.

Choosing between public and private sectors involves weighing personal values, career aspirations, and lifestyle preferences. Public healthcare offers stability and a broad clinical experience, ideal for those committed to public service and education. Private practice, on the other hand, provides financial incentives, autonomy, and advanced resources suited for those seeking a tailored career path and patient care model. Ultimately, the decision is deeply personal, reflecting your vision for your role in the healthcare landscape. Whatever you are looking for, we can help. Search public, private, and locum roles here.

Medrecruit Editorial Team
18 March 2024Article by Medrecruit Editorial TeamMedrecruit Editor