Ready To Open Your Own Practice?
Congratulations on your decision to open your own practice as an NP! With your medical background and qualifications, you’re already well-equipped to make a positive impact on patients’ health. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, more and more Nurse Practitioners are taking the leap opening their own practice. Now is the time to join the growing community of NP practice owners and make a difference in people’s lives.
But that’s probably not the reason you’re reading this article – you need advice with the business aspect of running your new practice. In addition to credentials, though, you will need to secure funding and network as well as follow a legal structure that best suits your needs and preferences. Let’s take a look at several tips you can follow to open up your own successful medical practice:
1) Be aware of the challenges
First and foremost, you need to be aware of the challenges you are going to face when you open up your own medical practice. According to the director of rural health initiatives at the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation, Franklin Walker, medical practices are extremely expensive to start up, especially when only one or two persons are going to be the primary providers.
Also, insurance companies can be difficult to work with, meaning you need an extremely talented insurance collaboration team in place to ease the startup process. Many first-time business owners may try to skimp at this step avoiding finding partners such as attorneys, tax advisors, office administrators to keep expenses low. I recommend heavily against that.
Dr. Mariea Snell, DNP, APRN, FNP-C and founder of Provider Skills offered critical advice for new NP practice owners to maximize their earning potential. “Find expert coders! They never teach you this in school and your ability to make any money is directly linked to doing this well.” With the proper team in place, you can focus your efforts in your expertise, which is seeing patients!
2) Patience is key
If you are wanting to open your own medical practice, the organization stages of this practice should start well before you are looking to make the leap. Like in any business, these stages of set up – finding office space, building a team, developing a marketing plan will take time. And typically, everything will take more time that you think it will.
If you have already completed your schooling and currently working for another practice, you will need to start the organization stages before you end your current employment. And while you may be extremely motivated to get your own practice started, you are going to need the help of many other professionals to make sure your startup is a success.
Plan on at least six months or more to be devoted to getting through the organization stages, and this especially applies if you intend on accepting payments through third parties.
3) You are going to need lots of money
The more money you have, the better. Even if you have $100,000 in the bank to devote toward the startup of your practice, you are probably going to need even more. This is why very few providers are ever able to start their own medical practice without the help of a lender.
In fact, according to Bottom Line Practice Solutions, under-capitalization is the number one contributing factor to a healthcare company’s failure. When you encounter a lender who is willing to loan you money, you need to collaborate with this entity as much as possible to make sure the both of you are on the same page.
You don’t want to get to the end stages of opening your own practice only to discover you can’t tap into the necessary funds to actually open your doors. Please note, how you structure your capital and your entity matters here. If you need to, consult an attorney.
Factors that will influence how much money you need to have access to include:
- How much your EHR will cost
- The various services that you want to offer
- The amount of space you will need to conduct these services
- The number of employees you are going to need to hire and train
- Your marketing agenda
- The payer mix you have
- Operational expenses, including your expected utilities
4) How are you going to recruit?
The recruitment of talented personnel, including other nurse practitioners, collaborating physicians, and physician assistants is a skill all in itself. You will need to get help to ensure you bring in motivated employees who are just as invested from an emotional standpoint as you are. When you recruit workers, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What values do the workers have in regard to helping patients?
- Do the workers follow ethical practices?
- Are they willing to expand their skill set to help you expand your medical practice?
- What is the opportunity cost of not filling the open position? Is it worth the investment needed to fill the position?
5) Operate your practice like an actual business
Many people who go into the medical field do so out of passion; they have a strong desire to help people. And while this desire and passion can go a long way in improving the health of society, it can negatively affect a practice’s balance sheets when services are handed out like candy for free.
Whether you are opening up your own nursing home or a pediatrician clinic, you must operate your practice like an actual business, not a charity organization. To do this, you need to become more business-minded. And sure, you probably went into the healthcare field to practice medicine, not operate a business, but the business side of things is still equally as important.
You are an entrepreneur when running your own practice, so you will need to create a business plan, understand your revenue models, hire/train new staff, sharpen your finance skills, and hire the appropriate professionals to help you fulfill your recruiting tasks.
Those who help you with your recruiting tasks will have many factors to consider, such as whether or not your prospective nurse practitioners have the credentials to practice in the respective state you operate in. If you decide that you don’t want to operate your practice like a business, make sure to find the right office manager or consultants who can routinely audit your organization.
6) Check the State Practice Environment laws where you live
This is obviously a no-brainer. Make sure to review and better understand the specific restrictions you may face in your state of residence. As states continually adopt more attractive practicing laws, these may change regularly. Stay up-to-speed. There are a lot of resources on-line between the AANP, ANCC, and high quality forums on social media.