Fighting for survival: can small independent medical practices survive?

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Deciding on going into private practice as a clinician takes a lot of courage. It’s usually a spiral of questions that lingers on whether it’s the right thing to do or if it’s even worth it, considering the kind of economy we currently have.

But first, what is private practice?

Simply put, it is a professional business that provides help in medical, mental health, legal, and other services. Businesses can vary from law firms, clinics, physical therapy clinics, social work, and the likes that are not controlled or paid for by the government, hospitals, etc.

In the previous years, private practitioners have gained much recognition and favor across the United States as patients have reported their preference in consulting with one, especially in the medical field, as they receive higher quality care at a lower cost than larger healthcare systems.

Not only is it beneficial for the patients, but it also gives a better experience for practitioners in terms of flexible employment options, better working hours, and so on.

Truly, the need for more private practices is in demand now more than ever.

However, starting up a practice isn’t always feasible, especially for fresh grads. According to Steven Walfish, Ph.D., an Atlanta-based practitioner and author of “Financial Success in Mental Health Practice: Essential Tools and Strategies for Practitioners,” clinicians are taught well to be one, but not how to run the business side of life.

But despite the challenges, what is it that still drives professionals into opening up their private practice clinics?

FREEDOM

Running your practice gives you control. This means you are free to plan your schedule, philosophy of care, patient consultation, equipment, your staff, and even the look and feel of your own office.

JOB SECURITY

As your own boss, you are responsible for your business’s growth. This means as long as you keep your business afloat, you are less likely to be unemployed or let go of.

POLITICS-FREE

Unfortunately, power-hungry people and structures aren’t only limited to the corporate world. If you are tired of such, then opening up your own office can save you from headaches in getting caught between all that mess.

PERSONAL GROWTH

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Building and creating your legacy from the ground up reflects a lot on the clinician’s personality. It allows them to discover more about themselves, making them better in their craft.

Building and maintaining your own private practice office does not only take up a lot of courage and determination. It also takes time and money. Moreover, those who have a solidified plan, proper funding, and understand the ever-changing climate in their field stand a better chance of success.

Since there are various professions involved in the private practice field, let’s narrow it down to the medical field for this estimation.

That being said, what are the things you need to put into consideration? What should be on your checklist?

1. Formulate a business plan

A good business always starts with planning. Creating your business plan gives you a better understanding of what you want to put out there and how far you are willing to go.

2. Start-Up Costs

This covers the expenses you’ll need within the first few months of your business, such as your furniture, advertising, and so on. Having a good visual representation is very important in making your business known. This includes your logo, website, and likes.

Designing it on your own can range from $150-$300 but if you are going to hire some professionals to do it for you, then consider saving at least $3000-$9000. Hiring your own legal and accounting service also benefits you in the long run, so setting aside a budget for these fees is a good rule of thumb.

3. Basic office equipment and furnishing

Having a physical space where you can properly accommodate your clients/patients is important as the overall look and feel represents authenticity and professionalism to your business and adds validity to you as a whole.

4. Operating expenses

The cost of operation may vary and grow over time, so it’s best to know how much is needed to spend every month and at which point that cost may increase.

5. Unexpected expenses

It’s always a good point to assume that you’re spending more when starting your own business, or at this point, your own private practice office. You’ll never know when unexpected situations arise, so it’s best to have something in case of an emergency.

Overall, private practice can be a challenging career choice, but it can be gratifying for the workers, their patients, and the overall medical field over time.

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