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Ann Fam Med. 2016 Jan-Feb;14(1):8-15. doi: 10.1370/afm.1839.

Solo and Small Practices: A Vital, Diverse Part of Primary Care.

Author information

Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia
Robert Graham Center, Washington, DC.
American Board of Family Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky.



Solo and small practices are facing growing pressure to consolidate. Our objectives were to determine (1) the percentage of family physicians in solo and small practices, and (2) the characteristics of and services provided by these practices.


A total of 10,888 family physicians seeking certification through the American Board of Family Medicine in 2013 completed a demographic survey. Their practices were split into categories by size: solo, small (2 to 5 providers), medium (6 to 20 providers), and large (more than 20 providers). We also determined the rurality of the county where the physicians practiced. We developed 2 logistic regression models: one assessed predictors of practicing in a solo or small practice, while the other was restricted to solo and small practices and assessed predictors of practicing in a solo practice.


More than one-half of respondents worked in solo or small practices. Small practices were the largest group (36%) and were the most likely to be located in a rural setting (20%). The likelihood of having a care coordinator and medical home certification increased with practice size. Physicians were more likely to be practicing in small or solo practices (vs medium-sized or large ones) if they were African American or Hispanic, had been working for more than 30 years, and worked in rural areas. Physicians were more likely to be practicing in small practices (vs solo ones) if they worked in highly rural areas.


Family physicians in solo and small practices comprised the majority among all family physicians seeking board certification and were more likely to work in rural geographies. Extension programs and community health teams have the potential to support transformation within these practices.


physician’s practice patterns; practice-based research; primary care; private practice; rural health services; solo practice

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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