When you entered the world of physical therapy, fresh out of school and ready to tackle to world, what were your goals? What did you see yourself accomplishing over the first five, ten, fifteen years of practice? Now here’s the big question: how much of that have you accomplished?
Are you satisfied with the current status of your profession and the state of your career?
Whether you are in a private practice, home health, school, a skilled nursing facility, or in a hospital the goal is clear: you want to build a practice that is fulfilling and builds upon your passions and expertise.
However, in today’s competitive, ever changing healthcare economy it’s almost a given that at some point you’re going to have to re-invent your professional self.
This article provides you a step-by-step approach to discover your calling and develop your professional platform. It will help you look at your strengths, your experience, your relationships, and your mastery to take the leap of faith into uncharted territory.
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Do you ever feel like you’re not living up to your potential? Are you a therapist and a mom who is committed to both your profession and your family? I believe there thousands of therapists who are eager to ditch their full time jobs at the hospital or outpatient clinic but are unable or unwilling to step away from the income.
Therapists have spent a significant amount of their adult life preparing for their profession not to mentioned thousands of dollars. When therapists begin a family there is often a struggle to make ends meet while trying to balance work and family. Many are looking for alternative career options for a solution. In episode #53 I interviewed pediatric occupational therapist Rachel Coley about writing books and selling products from home.
My guest today, Sarah Lyon, is also an occupational therapist who set out to create her own solution. Sarah started her blog six years ago out of her own need to connect with other OTs and get support as a new graduate. Her blog evolved into her own online business, OT Potential.com, which has almost replaced her income working part time.
I want to you to ask yourself:
What are the three words you want to come after your name when people think of you?
I’m not talking about your professional credentials or certifications. I’m referring to the words that patients, colleagues and referral sources use to describe who you are and what you do. I guarantee you they are putting labels and categories on you that greatly effect your professional success.
Many therapists believe that if they just improve their clinical knowledge and skills they’ll be recognized based upon the merits of their work. Their thinking goes something like this, if patients get better and I work really hard the rest will take care of itself.
Therapists often make the faulty assumption that if their professional reputation grows to a certain level, word of mouth marketing will fill their schedules. Once they become “good enough” their professional career will take off and they’ll be in high demand.
But that’s simply not reality anymore. Whether you want to be happier at your present job, make a job change or take the leap into private practice you have to make a name for yourself. To achieve success in today’s competitive market, it’s almost certain that you’ll need to develop your professional brand.
Are you feeling a little bit small and insignificant? As competition for dwindling reimbursements and good jobs becomes more intense many therapists are feeling feeling undersized in the winner-take-all economy.
Mergers are happening–not just in private practice but up and down the healthcare spectrum. It seems that if you want your clinic to survive you need to become a multi-clinic chain to just get your foot in the door.
Big data is the latest buzzword in healthcare. Governments, insurance companies and healthcare organization are all rushing to embrace large quantities of data. They are scrambling to understand the medical industry in ways they could only dream about before.
Big data with it’s high stakes data analytics threatens what many therapists value most–meaningful one on one connections with their patients. It’s easy to feel like your life’s work is just another data point.
The truth is probably all of us go through times when we feel small and insignificant.
I often feel like I don’t contribute much when I hit the publish button to send a blog post into the world wide web. When I managed my own practice there were many times when I wondered if I was making a difference. I was anxious about what to do next and if I was going to make it another year.
I felt incredibly small and anomynous.
Do you ever feel like your practice is being passed over or worse yet ignored? Do you wish that doctors and pateints would just step through your door and give you a chance to prove your value?
William Shakespeare wrote almost 400 years ago, “All the world’s a stage”. If you have a service to offer or idea to sell you are on stage. Today’s healthcare industry stage has never been more crowded. Your professional degree is only a stage pass that will benefit you little if the lights aren’t on you or if you don’t have an audience. No matter how good of therapist you are if people don’t know you exist you’ll be performing to an empty house.
In the old healthcare system therapists did not have to concern themselves with getting noticed by the public. Physician gatekeepers fed therapy departments plenty of patients and the insurance companies paid the bills. No need to market your services or differeriate yourself from the competition because there were plenty of patients and money to go around.
When it comes to creating highly successful outreach campaigns for your practice, the most important component in marketing is targeting. The ultimate goal is to find your “sweet spot” – a group of patients who are genuinely interested and have a need for your unique services.
Before you take any steps, before you even think about a brochures, Facebook ads, mailing campaigns etc., think about whom you are trying to reach.
• Who do you want to reach?
• Why do you want to reach that particular type of client?
• What is it about them that makes them ideal for your business?
These are questions that need answered before you can design any outreach for your business. Only after you have a clear picture of who you are trying to reach can you design a marketing campaign and highlight services that appeals to that specific clientele.
Is improving the marketing of your practice near the top or the bottom on your priority list for the new year? If marketing is something that you know you should do but never get around to it your not alone.The vast majority of therapists struggle with marketing regardless of their practice setting. Most therapists are incredibly busy with treating patient and getting their paper work doe so they can go home. Marketing rarely makes their top ten of their things to do today list.
Yet effective marketing is the number one skill you need to develop.
If you become great at marketing, you can survive any type of healhcare reform and you can develop the kind of practice you are proud of and enjoy. Top notch marketing skills will give you an excellent flow of the right type of new clients and provide you a steady income stream for your practice. The right type of marketing will help you attract the right clients that match up with what you are good at.
This naturally leads to better outcomes and high client satisfaction. As your clinical expertise develop, if you do marketing right you’ll always be in front of the right flow of the ideal clients that are seeking the solutions and benefits that you deliver.
Visualize the difference that would make in your professional satisfactionand anxiety levels. The other aspects of your practice will be positively impacted when you improve your marketing skills. If your are in business for yourself your income will go up and the amount of time have to spend on your business will go down. Plus it’s a whole lot more fun working with clients who are good match.
Constrastly, if you are poor at marketing in today’s new healthcare economy, you will never experience the professional growth that you could have.
I had a conversation with a therapist a few months ago who was trying to get referrals to the hospital satellite clinic where she worked. The hospital had decentralized their outpatient clinics and as the leader she was charged with the responsibility of making her clinic profitable.
She now found herself in the midst of competing for referrals with other private practices, chiropractors and others selling services to healthcare consumers.
Her comment was typical of what I hear from therapists during breaks at continuing education meetings.
“It’s my job to get patients better. Doing that and all the paperwork keeps me busy. It’s their job to market not mine. Isn’t just being a great clinician good enough? Are therapists now responsible to market on top of all the other responsibilities?”
The answer to her first question is no. Being a good therapist just doesn’t cut it anymore. Having clinical expertise is essential to a successful therapy practice but it’s not enough on it’s own. The answer to her second question is yes. You will need to be proactive about promoting your own practice and not leave that up to anyone else. You’ve put in too much hard work and money into your professional career to trust it to someone else.
An interesting side note to this story is that her clinic was across from a physician group that was a part of the same hospital network. Even though they were technically part of the same organization she had difficulty getting therapy referrals from that group.
In order for you to be successful in today’s competitive healthcare market, you need two essentials: professional expertise and a professional platform.
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We are quickly coming to the close of another year. 2015 is almost in the books. I hope you’ve had both a successful and meaningful year. I truly believe 2016 could very well be your best year ever. I hope that it has not been another year of grinding it out day after day at a therapy factory. If you’re looking ahead to next year and dreaming about how your life could be different, I’ve written this post for you, the visionaries.
So you have this great idea for a private practice. Your friends like it, even your mom likes it. You’ve shared it with a few colleagues and they think it’s a great idea too. You’ve might even have floated your private practice idea with your family and close friends and got a thumbs up.
In your free time, you consume every blog post you can on starting a cash practice. You might even have bought a couple of business books on platform building and social media marketing like Michael Hyatt’s Platform or Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid. You may have written down a goal to own your own business in 2016.
From there, you might even have thought about a practice niche that is focused on your clinical expertise. You may even have talked to a landlord about a possible practice location.
On December 9th, 2016 I had blast being interviewed by Aaron LeBauer on his CashPT Webinar. I first met Aaron at the APTA’s CSM 2015 after an excellent presentation about the nuts and bolts of his cash therapy practice. I immediately contacted him to be a guest on my Functional Freedom podcast. Aaron’s a great guy and is very generous with everything he’s learned through owning his own cash practice. During the interview we chat about:
The biggest change in physical therapy over the last 30 years.
How to align your website and blog with who you are as a physical therapist.
How to come up with topics for your blog posts and what to write about.
How much money $$$ it takes to start a private practice.
The main reasons therapists are “Opting In” to the Cash-Based Therapy Model
The Old vs. New Healthcare Economy
How therapists can reach Out to Consumers in the New Healthcare Economy
Paul’s Cash Practice Roadmap and The Four Essential Stages for Business Success
The Cash-Based Mindset and the vital link to starting a successful practice.
Head on over to Aaron’s CashPT Lunch Hour website to watch the interview. While you’re there you might want to check out Dr. LeBauer’s step-by-step training course Cash PT Blueprint.