As a coach to doctors from all specialties and working along side them for fifteen years, I’ve gained some insight into what healers are really craving from medicine. Many have had the idea of branching off and starting their own practice, but are stifled by the magnitude of the possibility. I’ve opened a successful pediatric clinic for doctors and it was fun and exciting, because that was the mindset I entered with. Was it easy? No. Was it simple and straightforward? Yes. Here I’ll guide you through some resources needed to get to your own independent practice.
Shift Your Mindset
The doctors I have seen thrive in their own practice have the mindset of ‘anything is possible’ and work through the inevitable fears of going into a new independent world. They use that as a mantra until they believe it. Moving from employee to entrepreneur is challenging but not impossible. As a PA, I didn’t crave the outside independent world until about five years in. I realized that I could practice medicine in a way more compassionate and comprehensive way if it weren’t for the expectations of my employers to see more in less time. You don’t have to go to business school, craft the perfect strategy or hire a big concierge company to start your dream practice, you simply have to shift your mindset that you’re captain of your destiny. Too often we tell ourselves stories that are not true. We feed the fear, play the comparison game and have loads of self-limiting beliefs about why our own practice will not work. Enough. We deserve more. I’ve been encouraging doctors to recognize this for years. We’re the ones with the education, skills, experience and expertise. We’re the ones who make revenue for the clinics and hospitals based on their rules. Why not take the leap and start practicing with integrity, purpose and meaning again based on your rules? You can do it, but you have to believe in yourself first.
Surround Yourself With the Yaysayers
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn, rings so true when you’re venturing out on your own. If you surround yourself with a bunch of doctors who have tried and failed at the independent practice thing, that’s going to continue being your narrative. If you surround yourself with people like Dr. Julie Reardon from Lake Travis Integrative Medicine, she’ll tell you to look “at the conflicts we see in our current system as a challenge to grow for ourselves and the system and see that it parallels what want our patients to do in their lives”. She graduated, dove in and learned along the way. This is who you want on your team. You don’t have to come to Austin to find doctors like her, they’re everywhere, from Facebook groups to meet-ups. If the community doesn’t exist in your town, create one. Functional Forum Meet-Ups allow you become a leader among your local healthcare community. Dr. Pamela Wible, a “Physician’s Guardian Angel”, hosts a retreat where she takes you step by step through the process of starting your own practice, plus you get the community and mindset shift too. We have to stop isolating ourselves and begin to lean on others for insight and guidance. It’s part of the new paradigm in healthcare; it’s no longer about competition and all about collaboration
Find Your Niche
What do you love about medicine? As primary care doctors, you’re forced to learn the entire spectrum of illness, but with your own practice, you can focus in and build on your passion. McCall McPhearson, PA-C of Modern Thyroid Clinic loves thyroid disease and has built an expert platform based on her knowledge and expertise. Dr. Shawn Tassone of Tassone Gynocology is a genius in female hormone imbalances and takes a mind-body approach to guiding women back to health. Dr. Sarah Halberg runs a speciality clinic to reverse type 2 diabetes and has a Ted Talk on how she does it. We need experts in holistic pain management, autoimmune disease, IBS, anxiety, hypertension, diabetes, depression and a myriad of other illnesses. You don’t have to go back and get a fellowship to practice in a niche, just pull up PubMed and dive in. You can learn everything you need from books, articles, conferences, mentors and practice.
Remember Your Purpose
Most of us went into medicine for the patients, to help make a positive change in our corner of the world. We have to fall back in love with our purpose and the patients before reigniting meaning in medicine. If your bottom line is money, you should stay at your current practice and keep grinding it out. But if your purpose is to help change lives and get people feeling better, it’s time to face your fears and go for gold. Understand that our patients are hungry for something different outside the four walls of a conventional model. They want alternatives to the medications, one-on-one time to tell their story and a doctor who practices what they preach. If remembering your purpose means taking a beat and some space away, do that. Self-care is healthcare and we have to take care of number one before number one can take care of the masses.
Get The Logistics In Order
These are not linear steps, they’re all going to unfold in a different order once you make the decision to branch off on your own. Ideas, websites, classes for the logistics aspect of your venture abound. You can type this into the search bar and find countless articles on doing this part. The process can be even easier if you purchase a program like Practice Accelerator by EvoMed that helps guide you through the steps of creating your ideal practice. You’ll need to start thinking about a name for your practice, buy the domain online and start a website. You have to look into leasing an office or check in with coworking spaces, make your EMR or find a free one. You have to decide if you’re going to take insurance or be cash-based and start pricing out malpractice options. If you go the DPC route, you can make an affordable monthly plan for patients and still make a hefty profit. Again, ask and you shall receive. I’ve talked to countless physicians who are excited about sharing their expertise in this realm, so if you want to go for it, it’s time to start making friends.
Write it down
Start writing down what your ideal independent practice looks like to you. Perhaps make a timeline for the next six to nine months and people you want in your tribe. When you deliver it to paper and you see it in writing, it becomes less of a something ‘out there’ and starts to emerge as something within reach. Stop letting your fears of the unknown steal your dreams. If an independent practice is what you want, go for it.