PRIVATE PRACTICE- TAKING A LEAP OF FAITH
By Kitty Griffin MSCD, CCC-SLP
Thinking about private practice? You could spend years writing a business plan or you take a leap of faith and get in there in the near future. Never once in my neatly laid out professional goals did the word private practice get written. My practice rose out of the ashes of a job loss. ( I should have called my practice the “Phoenix”!!!) Healthcare changed, and rehab jobs were eliminated or pared down to a point where it would be hard to support yourself, much less a family.
My kids were 5 years old when that job loss came and I was scared. I called my parents. I thought some sympathy might be in order. My mom (ever the fainting flower-NOT!) said “Are you any good?” I was taken off guard and didn’t answer. “Are you?” she pressed. “Then open your own office- just do that”. We went on other topics.
If nothing else, I am a woman of Faith. I called some local doctors, packed some toys in my old 65 Mustang and entered into home based treatment. Things went well and I learned about insurance, Medicaid and how to submit billing forms. I drove around MT with no phone- cell phones were not big yet! I then saw patients from a dedicated space in my home. I later rented space from our local hospital.
Nothing lasts forever, and the space in that area was needed for other functions. The hard choice was here: move to another space or buy something so I never had to move again. The day I came home and asked my low key husband Jeff :”Do you think we could use our house as collateral?” I held my breath. He said “You know what you are doing.” I never loved him more. We renovated a 2 bedroom house and State of the Heart Therapy moved into Taylor Drive. We have been in this location for 10 years now.
Everyone is different and I think every private practice is different, too. Just a few things to know:
- Try to grow slowly, many new businesses fail in the first 3-5 years due to the cost of doing business.
- You will work harder than anyone else you know, your life depends on it.
- Surround yourself with people to advise you, who are from different backgrounds in business. It could prevent costly mistakes. Jeff once said; “You are NOT doing that!!!” PS- he was right and I was crabby that he WAS right.
- Go for diversity in your caseload payors. A mix of contracts, clinic patients with insurance and with entitlement programs like Medicaid offer stability if the bottom falls out of one payor. Trust me, it is likely.
- ASHA has wonderful resources: asha.org and type in private practice!
- You will not be raking in the big bucks; the owner is paid last.
- This is the time to shine clinically. You will get referrals if you give more than is expected. It will cost you time and effort. And it will keep you in business.
- Take a leap of faith sometime soon. Maybe not in private practice, but somewhere: have Faith not fear.
You can reach Kitty on her mobile email firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine “Kitty” Lebahn Griffin, M.C.S.D. CCC-SLP is a master’s level speech and language pathologist. Kitty has spent her career working with families in home based and clinic based treatment. She has worked across the nation including The Helen Beebe Center in PA and the Listen Center in CO. One of Kitty’s clinical specialties is working with families whose children have hearing loss. Kitty has worked for MSDB as a Family Advisor and is currently a DHH Outreach Consultant in SW MT. She is a certified Baby Signs® instructor.
Kitty is a former MT Speech Language and Hearing Association president and currently chairs the PR committee of that organization. (She likes to get the word out about services!) She also owns and operates her private practice, State of the Heart Therapy, Inc. in Dillon MT. Kitty’s most prestigious and rewarding assignment thus far is as mother to twins David and Elizabeth, who are studying at UM and making their Mom proud!