If you are considering a career in private practice, or if you’re already in practice and want to make it more satisfying and prosperous, it’s essential that you apply sound, ethical business principles and techniques.
Although graduate school prepared you well for working with clients and patients, it did not adequately cover the business essentials of running a private practice. For example, many clinicians are concerned about finances, and tend to be frugal with spending.
But sometimes, saving a little initially can cost you a lot in the long run.
Consider the case of Dr. Johnson (not her real name). When she decided to leave her day job at a hospital to open her own practice, she started looking for office space. The rental fees were much higher than she had anticipated. She went with the least expensive option – a two-room suite in a quiet cul-de-sac near an office park – and signed a 3-year lease.
She soon realized that this was a mistake. Her office was miles from the hospitals and physicians from whom she received most of her referrals. Some clients arrived late when driving to her office for the first time because they got lost. Many potential clients never made an appointment because they didn’t have a car, and the nearest bus stop was several blocks away.
Furthermore, Dr. Johnson noticed that in the evenings, after the nearby office buildings had emptied, the neighborhood was eerily quiet. She felt unsafe. What if an unstable client or spouse of a client tried to attack her? She set up a security system and stopped seeing clients at 5 pm, giving up five evening appointments per week, which curtailed her income by over $2000 per month.
Thus, while Dr. Johnson assumed she was saving a lot of money by paying less rent, she ended up struggling financially because of the location.
Had she approached her search for office space in a more business-savvy manner, she would have focused more on factors related to income potential and convenience to clients. She would have come out ahead, even if her rent was $1000 more than she was paying.
Why business mistakes occur
Most business mistakes are not the result of reckless impulse, but of not knowing what factors to consider or what questions to ask. Although most mistakes are recoverable, recovery can be costly - not just financially, but also in terms of your reputation, and even your license.
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Protect your career investment
Given all the time and money you’ve spent on your clinical education, it just makes good sense to protect that investment by learning how to run your private practice as a thriving, ethical business.
The Center for Advanced Professional Education (CAPE) was established to provide necessary business and ethics training for mental health professionals in private practice.
If you are serious about a solid foundation for your practice, please consider our new certificate courses, each with 21 APA CE credits.*
Areas of study include:
- Entrepreneurship and niche practice
- Ethics and risk management in the business of practice
- Practice Finances
- Practice Management
- Ethical Marketing
*CE credits are issued by The Practice Institute, LLC. The Practice Institute, LLC, is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer CE credit.
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