Is the Time Right to Start Your Own Practice?

After the demands of medical school, just getting a job without academic performance attached feels like a relief. Most doctors and other medical professionals spend the first few years of their post-academic career working for someone else. As their experience grows, however, many of them start to wonder if going into private practice is a more lucrative route.

Maybe you are one of those medical professionals. If you are standing at a crossroads and trying to decide if you should just stay put, or strike out on your own, take some time to consider these points.

Financial burden. The cost for starting up your own practice can be as high as $100,000. Between medical equipment, consumables like gowns and bandages, and furniture, the costs of opening a private practice really add up. You also have to consider the cost of insurance and medical malpractice protection. Along with any medical school loans, that may seem like too much to handle. The key is to have a solid business plan that outlines exactly how you will make that money back, and how long it will take. Hiring a financial consultant that is well-versed in medical practice startup costs is a smart investment. The consultant will help you break down your budget and explain the revenue you will need to earn back that upfront money over time.

Personal life. The demands of career in medicine are high, whether you are in private practice or work for a large corporation. A professional who decides to build his or her own practice also takes on the role of entrepreneur. Are you at a place in life where you can feasibly welcome those new demands and still meet your personal obligations? Before you order your X-ray machines or cardiology equipment, consider your spouse, your kids, and your extended family. Will these loved ones be able to help you build your practice or will they suffer as a result of your busy schedule? Some sacrifice here is understandable, and would happen with any career, but decide if waiting a few years would make the transition more difficult or easier for your family.

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Career longevity.Think about your career long term. Based on your specialty, how long can you truly expect to be working and earning a paycheck? Physicians that specialize in surgery, for example, generally have a shorter career than those in general practice. Do you have enough years left in your career to make a private practice investment pay off? Answer this question conservatively and also take your own health into account.

Local marketplace. Before investing even one penny into your private practice, decide if there is room for your services in your community. Hire an economic specialist to evaluate the current market in your area and if there are enough people that need what you offer. You may find that it makes more sense to open your practice in a nearby town instead, or that a move to a whole new area is the best bet. You can offer the highest-quality medical services but your practice will not be successful without patients who need you.

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