10 Expert Tips for Starting a Successful Practice

Running a practice is a major endeavor, but you don’t have to make every mistake for yourself. If you are just getting started – or are established and looking for ways to tweak what you’ve built – here are 10 fantastic building blocks for growing a successful practice.

Dr. Mark Rubin, who practices in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, says it is important to remember that “it’s great to be your own boss, but you will be the toughest boss you’ve ever had!” That same drive that got you through your residency is very likely going to be at the core of what drives you when first building a practice. Just like then, you won’t get every single thing right the first time, so be kind to yourself.

And Dr. Kevin Smith of Niagara Falls, Canada, says before getting started on any new endeavor, “Ask for advice! Visit lots of practices of the type you’d like to have, and be sure to visit some people who are just a few years ahead of you. Make notes, take photos and collect handouts and forms if you can.” If you are a dermatologist, he also suggests you “join [the chat group] RxDerm.”

For those just starting out, Dr. George Hruza reminds us that advice for the sake of advice may or may not be worth it. “Work with advisors you can trust. If you are joining a practice, hire an excellent health care attorney familiar with employment law. If you are starting a practice, an accountant and banker are key.” And “if you are joining a practice, do your due diligence and ask for what you want. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.”

Dr. Jeanine Downie, of Montclair, NJ, reminds us that you can’t do everything. “Finding a great office manager is absolutely essential!”

When it comes to making investments in equipment, Dr. Suneel Chilukuri advises that you meter your purchases prior to opening the doors. “Don’t buy a ton of devices or equipment. Once you start seeing patients, you can use a Sushi style questionnaire to see what actually interests them. By knowing this information, you start addressing the conditions that bother your patients.” Then before making any purchases, “speak with trusted, unbiased colleagues to see if the equipment you are considering is effective. “

Dr. Michael Gold of Nashville, TN, says, “My most important advice is to have a good lawyer and account help with the actual set-up. And then work hard. Our practices were not handed to us. For those starting out who may think we (more established physicians) have it easy, realize that we work long and hard and take care of our patients the best we can – always.”

Dr. Joe Niamtu of Richmond, VA, suggests you, “Find a mentor that you are not in competition with, someone who has been there before is a giant help. Also don’t ever do or say anything that you would not say or do in front of your mom.”

Dr. Amy Taub of Chicago, IL, says it is ultimately important to, “Believe in your vision but try not to get over your head in debt. The best marketing is great patient care.”

Finally, Dr. Carl Thornfeldt of Fruitland, ID, shares, “Be careful about who you surround yourself with. Choosing the right investors and staff can make or break you. For critical employees, provide a full benefits package. I have employees who have stayed with me for well over 20 years. Any cost savings from not taking really good care of critical people can be lost with staff turnover costs.” And lastly, he “was shocked to realize that [he] could not please or cure every patient.”

A good reminder for all of us because at the end of the day, we are people helping people.

By Natasha Mohr

We hope these insights prove to be useful for you. If you learned a little something, share this with your colleagues and share your thoughts with us!

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