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Business Starting or Developing a Private Practice - Why Bother?
For many years, I worked for the government. In 2006 I hired a Business Manager to help me decide whether I should stay in that employment or expand my part-time private practice into a full-time endeavor. There were many things to consider as the government job offered regular hours, guaranteed income with regular raises in pay, ongoing professional development and specific benefits including a pension plan as well as an illness, health and dental plan.
I didn't want to give up the pension plan and benefits but thought that I could likely match or better than income. I had been raised in a home that valued planning for future retirement and although most of my family members lived to healthy old ages, there was a feeling of security in knowing that I had casual illness coverage as well as short and long-term disability plans.
The Business Manager asked me to request a copy of my Pension Plan and speak with the company about my contributions. I requested statements that would project the income I would receive by retiring at ages 55, 60 and 65 years. I was shocked to learn that despite my years of service and the regular contributions that I made; my retirement income was what I will term "pitiful".
The hourly fee that I could charge in private practice was almost triple my hourly rate of pay in the government job. If I allowed seventeen percent for coverage of my benefits, I would still have plenty of money to purchase health and dental coverage. My plan also allowed for investments which would be available in my retirement years.
Well, I decided to leave the government job with all of its guarantees and perks. I knew that there would be risks. If I was ill there wouldn't be any income. I would need to pay for my own professional development opportunities and lose income while I was away from the office for them. As well, I knew that I would not have the "protection" that comes with having a supervisor and other people with whom I could consult. At the same time, I wanted the freedom that comes with operating a business.
One of the things that helped me make my decision was to list all the concerns I had and then gather information about how I might deal with each of them in private practice. It only took a couple of months for me to realize that I could let go of the security of my job in order to develop my business. I haven't looked back since.
Oh, there have been times when I have had to give myself a "pep talk" for spending too much or not seeing enough clients but, the rewards have far exceeded the fears that I once felt.
Deciding to go into a private practice can be difficult, especially if you are worried about giving up benefits or having a guaranteed income. Your personality as well as the situation are factors that will affect your decision-making. Ensure that you have enough information to allay your concerns before you begin and then you probably will not be facing a future with regrets.
Life is an adventure but with adventure comes a degree of risk. I know that I am certainly glad that I took the chance that I did for I have gained so much by doing so.
About the Author
Dr. Hancock has written a regular weekly column entitled “All Psyched Up” for newspapers in two Canadian provinces for more than a dozen years...