Many therapists and health care professionals lament that their graduate program didn’t teach them about the business side of practice. I often hear, “No one told me it would be this hard to start a practice/ find clients/deal with managed care!”
Right. And no one is going to start telling the students of today those things either because:
- Most professors aren’t in private practice (or one that pays all their bills – they get a check from the university) so they have no idea about these issues.
- They are not a business school, and as such, don’t teach business strategies.
- They don’t want to spread the word on these difficulties because then you’d think twice about finishing your degree and stop paying your large tuition amount every year.
The Crux of the Issue
But there is another important way in which practice is nothing like grad school and it is this.
In graduate school you work to get an “A.” You learn what others want to hear and give it to them – in your written work, on tests and in your research. You learn to please and be “right,” “correct” and accurate to graduate, pass licensing exams and get permission to move on and eventually get a job that pays you.
The skills of being a follower: doing what’s expected and conforming to others’ models of what is acceptable and quality, are the exact opposite skill set of what works in setting up a small business.
If you think you can wait around for someone to tell you what to do, give you the green light that what you’re creating is okay, or think that someone is going to come by and stick a big red “F” on your forehead if you don’t get everything right the first time around you will never have a profitable practice. NEVER.
You Don’t Need Anyone’s Permission (and you’ll never get it anyway)
You need to shake off that persistent feeling that you need permission and that learning comes in neat rows (like that classroom in the picture above). You also need to get over the concept that good work comes in a set quantity of time or amount of content. Don’t think about how long it takes to create a program or how many pages of content you need on your blog. That’s a concept trained into us in school. The teacher says, “Write a 5 page paper on….” In business you have to get rid of that training and write as much (or as little) as you have to get the point across. Take the time you need, not an externally determined time frame that someone else sets for you. Creating is messy, disorganized, non-linear. We aren’t taught to think that way in grad school (nor are we taught be be particularly creative or innovative).
The fact is, graduate school trained you to wait for permission all the time. I remember being 28 years old and my intern supervisor telling me I was too independent. What?! I was 28 years old. There are people commanding troops in the Marines at 20 years old and multi-billion dollar companies run by 24 year olds (Facebook anyone?). But we in the health care professions aren’t considered adult enough to be independent until we’re in our 30s? Ridiculous.
Waiting as the Bus Rolls By
Now in 2010, there’s no time to wait for permission to get a website, to write a blog, to use social media. Why? Your professors, supervisors and association leaders have NO IDEA what to do with these new ways of communication and can’t give you permission. They don’t own the rights to grant it.
Don’t wait…just go forward. The most important thing you learned in graduate school that realates to your business are your ethics codes. Stay ethical online and off and you’ll be fine.
But stop waiting and asking, “Is this okay? Will people approve? Can I get in trouble?” You’ll get a different answer from every person you ask. And that’s ok because this is new territory for the whole world. See, no one has the definitive answer and from now on no one ever will because our technology will change and innovate faster than it every has in the history of human kind. By the time our leaders catch up to what’s going on now, a whole new set of communication tools will be in use by the general public. The bus will roll by if you wait on the wrong corner.
Keep up, innovate, have fun and stay true to your ethics. You’ll be fine and create a dynamite business in the process.