• Eric J. Yetter

The Associate Ophthalmologist Part 2: Physician Partnership Opportunities Under The PE Model

As mentioned in our previous post, there are many questions swirling around private equity investments in ophthalmology practices. Some particularly important ones relate to how a transaction will alter the career trajectory of associate ophthalmologists – particularly those with an interest in partnership. Is there upside for physicians who did not participate in the initial equity transaction? Will they ever have an opportunity to gain an equity position in the practice? The answer is yes, and here’s why.

Private equity investors are heavily focused on aligned incentivizes for all physicians as they consider medical practice investments. To successfully grow a practice, they depend on associate physicians’ continued involvement and ultimately, leadership. Private investors will not be successful unless young ophthalmologists thrive within the new partnership structure. After all, associate physicians will be the leaders that perpetuate practices for decades to come. Thus, investors are creating unique equity structures and partnership buy-in opportunities that align incentives for both individual practices and their global ophthalmology companies. Oftentimes, these new systems provide additional upside with lower personal risk – a highly attractive profile for younger physicians.


Private equity-backed ophthalmology platforms are utilizing platform equity positions – usually some form of stock in the larger ophthalmology company – as an incentive for associate ophthalmologists. Many firms have developed partnership programs with defined performance targets where associates are offered a structured opportunity to buy-in. Both the private equity investors and physician partners hope and expect this equity to yield high returns during future recapitalizations of the ophthalmology platform.


Each investor is unique, and so are the partnership opportunities available across this ecosystem. New incentivization programs are being developed that mimic stock option agreements and other structures that have been successful throughout the business world. As private investment in ophthalmology continues to mature, we can expect these programs to evolve to meet the desires of young ophthalmologists seeking a good career fit with stability and upside.

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