Starting a private practice is a leap of faith which a lot of medical professionals never consider. If you’re thinking of quitting your job, and setting up independently, then I admire your courage! Running a private practice can be an incredibly satisfying way to work, but it can also be a long, stressful disaster! Here are three common mistakes you need to avoid when running a private practice.
The first common mistake to avoid is using a poor fee structure. You’re probably not going to be earning six figures in your first year. Some doctors, when stepping out on their own, aren’t even able to pay their bills! Usually this is down to underselling themselves in order to get patients. Remember that you’re going to have to be an entrepreneur as well as a practitioner, and medical finance can be a lot to wrap your head around. I understand that you want to get a regular stream of patients. However, if you undersell yourself for too long, your entire operation could quickly go down the tubes. You’ll be working long days for very little reward, which can also have a negative impact the way your business operates. Start with competitive fees and stick to them.
The next killer mistake made by new private practitioners is not marketing enough. As you probably know, there’s already a massive demand for medical professionals of all kind. It’s pretty tough for anyone with the title “Doctor” to run out of work. This, however, doesn’t mean that you can sit back and wait for your patients to call. If people don’t know about your practice, you won’t be getting much business! Your marketing should start with your local competitors. Look around, and try to figure out what you can offer which other practices can’t. This is almost always a difference in branding, but a difference nonetheless. Whatever kind of image you get across, do it far more than you think you have to.
The final mistake to avoid is neglecting to find a mentor. I probably don’t have to tell you that private practice isn’t a very renown niche. You can’t walk into a bookshop and find a step-by-step guide to running a private medical practice. Even if you did, I’d urge you not to trust it! The next best thing would be networking, and finding a willing mentor. I know it can feel a little strange asking for help from another professional. However, the advice you’ll get will be extremely valuable. It’s sure to go further than this post, at least! Private doctors are often busy, but some would be delighted to tell you about their experience and what they’ve learned. Start talking to a mentor, and you’ll find far less challenges in running your practice.
Get an understanding of your finances, a bit of business sense and some outside help. Then, there’ll be nothing holding you back from running a successful private practice! This initial period is going to be tough. When you make it through though, I’m sure you’ll say it was all worth it!