Congratulations, you’ve qualified as a doctor! You’ve done all that legwork in medical school and you’ve spent a lot of time on the ground gaining patient experience – it’s time to put it all to good use. But before you start applying to job postings and calling for interviews, or staying on with a resident program, have you thought about starting up your own practice?
Indeed, it’s not as hard as many people have led you to believe. You’ve got the needed qualifications – now you just need to sit down and go over the logistics. And if you were often chomping at the bit to change something as you did your training, it’s a good sign you were ready to offer a new medical experience to those who need it most!
But you may still need a little guidance, especially if this idea is new to you. And that’s what we’re here to help with. Setting up a practice of your own can be challenging, but doing some good in the world is rarely easy! You just need to think about what you want to offer, and then find a way to offer it; check out the step by step points below to help you navigate the process.
Choose Your Practice Type
The first thing to do is think about what kind of practice you’re going to run. It’s going to most likely be a private company that deals in health insurance, but aside from that, how do you want it to be structured?
Maybe you want to work alone and provide care as a sole trader? Maybe you and a friend want to go into partnership together? Maybe there’s a group of you who all want to own a practice but can’t afford to go it alone? Then maybe a group practice structure is on the cards! It’s best to think about this long in advance and get your legal filing in order.
Of course, each structure has its own pros and cons. If you’re a sole trader, for example, you have complete control over what happens in the practice. But that also means you’re completely liable if any malpractice cases are brought against you. If you go in as a group, however, this pros and cons list gets flipped on its head.
Consider what you want for your patients, think about what you’ll be able to offer as a doctor on their own or with a partner or two, and even consider the funding element. If there’s only one person to back, that means you’ll have less capital to put to good use.
Write Your Business Plan
Now you’ve got a solid idea in your head, it’s time to write your business plan. A medical practice is like any other business out there. You need to get some funding to put the operation together and then make money to pay investors back. But without a business plan, no one will even look twice at your idea.
Follow the usual template here. You need a summary at the top, a list of what you plan to offer, an idea of the market you’re offering towards, and then how you’ll meet these concerns. Most of all you need to note down what you’re going to charge and what you’re expecting to spend. If you know what practice you’re going to run, how many people will be involved, and you’re planning to lean on your medical speciality, you should already have an idea of what it’ll all cost.
You should also write out a detailed expectation of how you’ll attract people towards your practice. Who are you targeting, and what’s going to make them get out of bed to tell you all about their health woes? You may want to get a marketing specialist involved to ask for some advice here. If you don’t know how to advertise off your own back, it’s best to have a solid idea going forward of what you need to do as a company trying to make some money.
Get Your Hands on Medical Equipment
Now that you’ve got the funding behind you, you can get on with the more fun parts of the job! It’s time to start shopping around for the medical equipment you’re going to need. This includes any machinery, any small treatment tools, any software you’ll use (like EHR applications) and even the uniform your doctors and nurses will need to wear too.
The latter point won’t be hard to track down at all, so start with it to warm up. You can easily buy medical uniforms from Uniform Advantage and other online suppliers, depending on how many staff you’re planning to hire. As long as you know where to get the uniforms, you can wait until a staff member has been hired to prevent excess spending. You can even begin to negotiate with the vendor; if you exclusively shop for medical clothing there, it could lead to a money off discount!
Then move on to the big guns. Thankfully you already know what kind of practice you’re going to run, and what you’re planning to treat as your specialized area. Now it’s time to find the best machinery that fits the bill. Think about both the diagnosis and treatment side here, and always keep your budget in mind. However, if you’re planning to invest in equipment that makes use of radiation, you will need to look into special licensing beforehand to ensure you can actually use it.
If you’ve got the plan together, and you know what budget you’re working with, and the equipment has been squared away, it’s time to put out job adverts. If you don’t already know who you want to bring on board, you’re going to need these adverts to be detailed and upfront. You’re a new, small practice looking for some qualified individuals, and make sure your salary expectations are clear for all to see as well.
Make sure you put these ads everywhere. You don’t want to just use some big name job boards, you want to move into more specialized websites that cater towards healthcare professionals as their main niche. You want to widen the hiring net as much as possible to find people who are willing to move into this exciting new opportunity!
Once you’ve got a few answers, bring in as many people as possible. Offer as many interviews as there are applicants and never be afraid to assess someone face to face. If their resume may not be what you were expecting, you can still see what they’re like and what they have to offer. Both soft and hard skills matter here. They need to be qualified medical professionals for the license, but they also need to have good bedside manner to put patients at ease.
Sort Out the Legal Side
This is where the most challenges will crop up during your effort to put together a medical practice. After all, the legality of running a private company can be hard to get your head round. There are a lot of rules and regulations, a lot of special licenses you’ll have to obtain for certain treatments and equipment uses, and you need to get these squared away as soon as possible.
However, it’s hard to file for these before you know what and/or who you’re working with. So it’s best to get your entire operation set up and ready to go before you send off for the relevant paperwork. Hopefully you’ve already got your own credentialing, but make sure any and all of your partners and employees have it as well.
If you’ve already filed to set up a business, you should have your tax payment documents all sorted out. However, be sure to double check this before you open your doors. You may also want to look into insurance here too. You’ll need some kind of liability cover just as a rule, but depending on what state you’re operating in, you may need it by law as well.
Could You Run a Medical Practice?
Now you’re qualified and have the best resume possible, yes! You just need a proper business plan to follow, to ensure you can impress investors and seek out the funding you really need. It’s not going to be easy, but you know what you’re about, and anyone you sit down with will be able to see that.
Once you’ve got the money at your back, it’s time to sort out your equipment and manpower. Maybe you made a connection or two back in school that you’d love to explore further? It’s time to see if they’re interested as well!
Finally, you’ve got the legality of your operation to consider. Private practices are common up and down the country, so you’re not the first person to have an idea like this. Use the tips above to cover all your bases and make sure you can start serving your local community.