You’ve put a lot of sweat and tears in earning your therapy degree. You may be a student ready to graduate, get a job and earn that first paycheck. You’ve invested prime years of your life into a therapy education for a reason. Some people refer to that reason as a calling.
A calling is what compels some students to consider owning their own practice. They cannot stand the thought of being just another gear in a therapy factory with an overemphasis on production and profits.
If you are considering opening your own therapy practice straight out of school, how do you know if you are ready? How would you go about it? The cash therapy business model is attracting a lot of attention these days as a viable, low cost pathway to start a business.
What is a Cash Therapy Practice?
The healthcare landscape has changed dramatically in the past few years. Health insurance can no longer be counted on to “pay the bills” for the patient or for the practice owner. Both parties are looking for great value healthcare.
A worldwide movement of medical practitioners is seeking an alternative way to deliver care without insurance middlemen and traditional gatekeepers. Practices are marketing directly to consumers and receiving cash payment for their services. A growing number of consumers are willing to pay for high quality, effective and personal care from a trusted expert.
You maybe an entrepreneur seeking an alternative to business as usual but have no idea how to start. Here are four steps you can take as a student to lay a solid foundation for starting your own practice, even while you are in school!
4 Steps for New Grads to Prepare for Private Practice
The way I see it there are at least four steps to help new grads get started on owning a private practice.
- Exploration. The first step is usually the fun part. It’s all about exploring, researching and putting your dreams down on paper. Whenever we think about living out our dreams there is excitement and energy. And it should be that way. We’ll need that energy to fuel our efforts when we are learning the ropes later on.
During this step the new grad will want to set themselves up to succeed by taking a “practice selfie”. You’ll want to make space in your schedule for a half a day to look back and look forward. One of the best ways to get a sense of direction is to look back on where you’ve been then look to where you want to end up.
Look back and can list the teachers, mentors and role models that influenced your life. List your past successes and times of fulfillment. Don’t forget to write down the lessons you’ve learned from past failures and frustrations. Name the topics that people ask for your advice. Chart your work history on a timeline and you’ll begin to pick out themes that give you insight into yours strengths and calling.
By exploring you’ll begin to realize how and where you will make your greatest contribution. It may or may not be in private practice. Either way you will have gained great insight into your unique clinical expertise and the best context for maximal effectiveness.
2. Support. The second step to building a practice framework is to set up your support system. The decision to go into private practice is usually the road less traveled. You’ll not want to go it alone. You may find naysayers that proclaim that now is the worse time to open a practice. Expect resistance. Take steps to overcome it.
For the new grad, there is the important task of developing their clinical expertise. The bottom line to any practice is getting people better and helping them reach their goals. There is no easy way around gaining clinical experience than seeing a lot of clients for a lot of years. Take the long view in becoming your client’s preferred provider by being a lifelong learner and developing your clinical skills.
If you are starting a private practice you’ll need to develop business and marketing expertise while treating clients. One way to shorten your learning curve is to develop a support system in these areas. I suggest that early on you choose an accountability partner and join a mastermind group. You’ll find the journey more enjoyable and sustainable if you connect with fellow travelers that help each other along the way.
Your support system should include friends and family to get feedback on your practice idea. Share your practice idea naturally with physicians, previous patients and other medical providers. Float your idea with other therapists and trainers in your community. Don’t forget to connect with other service professionals in your community that rely on referral business. You’ll gain valuable insight you would never get on your own.
Eventually you’ll take your best practice idea and test the market with a practice pilot. The same contacts you made for your practice pilot are the natural connections to ask for referrals to your pilot. They are vested in your practice pilot and want to see you succeed.
Lastly, I suggest that you take a potential mentor out for coffee or lunch to begin developing a relationship with them. Many older skilled professionals are interested in someone “picking their brain” but are looking for people to invest in to maximize their influence. You may find an experienced business person outside of healthcare to be a valuable ally in building your practice.
So, Are New Grads Ready for Private Practice? It Depends.
I believe we are all made on purpose for a purpose. There are therapy students that are called to go into private practice. Business is part of their makeup. Due to their strengths and work experience they are hard wired to be in business for themselves. The cash therapy practice modelprovides therapy students a low risk, low overhead way to begin a business in today’s healthcare economy.
If they are willing to do the ground work to identify their unique calling and develop their support network then I see no reason that a new grad should be prevented from testing a practice idea with a practice pilot. There is no substitute for learning by doing.
In my next blog post I’ll cover the final two steps that a new grad can take to prepare for private practice.
Download your free book
To help you get started with your own cash therapy practice. Download my FREE Ebook Cash Therapy Practice: Professional Freedom in the New Healthcare Economy. CLICK TO GET YOUR FREE BOOK
As therapists we have tremendous opportunity to use our abilites, education and expertise to enhance client’s lives. What a privilege? If your are in the therapy business to serve people, then my new book On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice might help you. The healthcare industry has undergone so many changes lately and many therapists are overwhelmed, overworked and confused on where to turn to for help in the battle.
On Fire takes a close look at innovative therapists who are using alternative ways to deliver high-value care to their patients. Cash therapy services have emerged as a viable alternative to accepting business as usual.
If you are intrigued by the attention that cash-based practices are attracting On Fire is a great primer to help you get up to speed on the key issues and how if might impact your practice. The book is available on Amazon. If you are interested in getting your own copy join my email list and I’ll keep you up to date on the special pre-order bonuses I’m giving away.
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