Stepping Into Private Practice

Opening a private practice can be a new and exciting opportunity. It offers personal and professional freedom but also new hurdles and challenges. During an ASHA live online chat, later presented as an article in The ASHA Leader, expert Jena Castro-Casbon offered advice on "How to Step Successfully Into Private Practice."

When starting your private practice, consider the following:

Know what kind of practice you want.

Do you want a solo or group practice? A virtual or brick-and-mortar practice? The type of practice you pursue will affect many variables, specifically the time it will take to open the practice, costs, and resources. It will also govern how much money and what type of infrastructure you will need to open and become profitable.

Ask yourself if it's the right time.

When you start your practice is really up to you. But it is important to take the time to evaluate if private practice is for you, assessing the risks (financial and ethical) and determining how quickly your practice can become profitable. The key is the value of your services and your preparedness for running your own business.

Start small.

Laying the groundwork to open a full practice can take time. Castro-Casbon recommends starting a small private practice "on the side" of your regular job. This will give you time to research, get organized, and see if private practice is a good fit for you.

Get your business in order.

Make sure you have enough savings in place to cover at least your own health insurance or have a steady income from another source to supplement your own until you get your practice off the ground. Before you start treating patients, consider getting liability insurance. Also, review ASHA's and your state's Code of Ethics, state and federal regulations, and other laws to ensure you are compliant.

Plan for growth.

When it comes to growing your private practice, you need to focus on three things:

  1. make your business easy to find,
  2. building awareness of your services, and
  3. creating relationships with referral sources.

By concentrating on all three areas (and not just, say, your website), your practice will start to grow.

Be sure to check out ASHA's Private Practice in Speech-Language Pathology resources.