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How Do I Know Private Practice is for Me?

How Do I Know Private Practice is for Me?
Denise Dougherty, MA, SLP
October 11, 2016
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Course Learning Objectives

  • Identify and address questions that identify readiness to transition to private practice
  • Identify financial pitfalls and most common start up mistakes
  • Identify skills needed to be successful in private practice
  • List resources available for review in preparation for private practice

Introduction and Overview

I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this topic today. My email address is in the handouts, and I welcome you to contact me if you have specific questions. I know we may not have time to get to everybody’s questions at the end, but please feel free to get in touch if you have a specific topic that you would like more clarification on, and I will certainly be happy to respond to you.

As far as disclosures, I do have a private practice. I have been in private practice now as a sole proprietor for about 10 years. Previous to that I was in a partnership. I had a private practice early on in my career that was part time, but very busy. So I have done this for a number of years. Also, I do work for Quality Insights of Pennsylvania, and we deal with recommendations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Questions that Identify Readiness to Transition to Private Practice

I think a lot of us dream about private practice, and envision what it might be like to have our own business. That is something that I really enjoy doing. You need to think about your motivation. Why do you want to go into a private practice right now? What is the reason behind it? We can have poor reasons for going into private practice. You really need to have that heart-to-heart discussion with yourself and make sure that you are up to the challenge. What is your motivation? You need to have a vision. That tends to change over the years. I know the vision that I had for my practice is totally different than what it is now. But the biggest concern you need to think about is that private practice takes some money. How are you going to finance this whole endeavor? That is where a lot of businesses fail. You certainly do not want to be in a pinch with your finances.

Why Now?

Many of you may have some dissatisfaction with your workplace or current employer. You see private practice as a great way to get out of that situation. What better thing to do than work for yourself? That is certainly what I have heard from a number of people who went into private practice; they are not happy with where they are and say, “I think I want to do it my way.”

There are also a lot of issues with productivity requirements. You may think they are unrealistic. I have worked in places where 75% productivity was required, and that was not bad. However, there are facilities where you need to be 90% or 100% productive, and that is very unrealistic. In fact, that is where we have a lot of issues with potentially fraudulent practices. There is no way you are going to have 100% of your time billable.

Caseloads may be unrealistic. If you are working in a school system, you may be very aware of what your caseload averages, versus what it might be in a nursing facility, versus what it is in a hospital situation. You think, “Hey, if I worked for myself, I would run things differently. I would have a caseload that I could deal with realistically, and my life would be so much simpler.”

You may also feel that you are underappreciated in your job. No matter what you do, it just does not seem to be enough. The private practice would allow you to have that personal satisfaction.

Unlimited CEU Access - Join Now   to get the whole article and handouts.

denise dougherty

Denise Dougherty, MA, SLP

Ms. Dougherty owns a private practice in Indiana, PA.  She has worked with clients from the Northeast US and overseas. She is a past President of the American Academy of Private Practice in Speech Pathology and Audiology (AAPPSPA), received the Academy’s 2007 Honor Award and AAPPSPA Award of Excellence in 2014. Denise is a co-editor of a new book, Private Practice Essentials: a Practical Guide for Speech-Language Pathologists published by ASHA Press.   She served on the ASHA Health Care Economics Committee and is a member of the Technical Experts Panel for Quality of Insights of Pennsylvania, working on initiating quality measures for CMS to improve effectiveness, efficiency, economy and quality of services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries. Denise works as a legal consultant/expert witness in litigation involving negligence, malpractice and wrongful death. She received her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania; and a master’s degree in communication disorders from St. Louis University.  Ms. Dougherty is a member of the Pennsylvania Speech and Hearing Association, and the American Speech and Hearing Association. 



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