After working for an HMO and a small group of doctors owned by a hospital, Nora E. Hanke, M.B., Ch.B., FAAP, knew she had to hang out her own shingle.

“My practice is my baby,” said Dr. Hanke. “I made the decision that if I wanted to be a physician, I had to be self-employed.”

About three years after going solo in Easthampton, Mass., Dr. Hanke said she made the right move. She enjoys being in control and making decisions ranging from what literature to post on her bulletin board to what record-keeping computer program to use. Dr. Hanke feels her patients get a better continuum of care and that no one can manage her business’ finances as well as she can.

But she and other solo practitioners caution that going it alone isn’t for everyone. In fact, statistics show there are declining numbers of solo doctors. The number of...

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