What Are the Differences Between Working as a Nurse in a Private Practice vs. Hospital Setting?

Whether you are just completing your nursing degree or have been a practicing nurse for a number of years, you may be considering the differences between working as a nurse in a private practice vs. hospital setting. There are differences in the type of care provided, size of working teams, scheduled working hours, opportunities for continuing education, and security of job and benefits to take into consideration.

Intimate Care

The type of care patients receive is the first major difference between working as a nurse in a private practice vs. hospital setting. In private settings, nurses can focus on individual patient’s needs more since they care for far fewer patients daily than hospital nurses. Fewer patients also allow nurses to build personal relationships with patients and their families.

Work Hours

The long, tiring hours that are common to hospital setting nurses are replaced by predictable, shorter hours in private care settings. Nurses with families of their own favor having a set schedule so that they can spend needed time with their children. Nurses working in a hospital are often asked to work overtime without notice and this can complicate family life. On the flip side, the opportunity to work overtime or pick up extra shifts can be a plus for nurses wanting to earn extra money.


Whether in private or hospital settings, nurses are a part of a medical team. The team is much smaller in private care and this allows nurses to form solid relationships with team members. Hospital teams are vast in size and always changing. It is not uncommon to work with different sets of people on a daily basis. There are also more specialized teams such as neurologists, cardiologists, and immunologists who must be factored in. Nurses in the hospital have many people to answer and report back to on the status and progress of patients.

Continuing Education

The medical field is constantly changing with advances in research and technology. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are required and paid for in hospital settings. This is not the case in private care nursing. Any cost and time accrued for extended learning is the sole responsibility of the private care nurse. This can add greatly to out-of-pocket costs and impact the quality of care given to patients if undated practices are not replaced with improved ones. Paid degree advancements are often possible in hospital settings. This is a great benefit for nurses wanting to advance an Associate Degree to a Bachelor’s Degree.

Resource: Levels of Nursing Degrees

Job Security

In an unstable economy, job security is of the essence. Nurses in hospital settings can count on job security and guaranteed job benefits such as health insurance and 401K plans. Private practice nurses trust their job security to a small, invested group of shareholders operating the practice they are contracted for.

Both private practice and hospital settings have their advantages and disadvantages. In the end, after careful consideration of the differences between working as a nurse in a private practice vs. hospital setting, it comes down to personal preferences and what type of setting you would enjoy both personally and professionally.