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Journey of a DPT Student

Owning a Theoretical PT Practice

Published February 25, 2013 12:58 PM by Lauren Rosso
As part of a very in-depth project for our "Leadership and Professional Development" course, I'm in charge of justifying the purchase of an electronic health record (EHR) for our theoretical outpatient private practice. I've been spending a lot of time researching the benefits, processes and considerations for EHR implementation, and I'm intrigued for a number of reasons.

To start, I'm realizing that the "business" side of PT is far beyond my current understanding of the scope of physical therapy practice. I've spent so much time in the past two years trying to master my clinical skills that I neglected to see this side of things. Financial analyses, readiness assessments, investment profiles, payback periods, capital -- it's all part of a vocabulary that's foreign to me. Perhaps it's because I'm not a very business-minded person, but I'm amazed that clinicians are able to transition into these types of responsibilities assuming they've had no formal business education. It's just unbelievable to me! I don't even know how to work an Excel spreadsheet.

I'm also impressed by the available resources that I've come across while researching electronic health record implementation. From the step-wise approach to how to implement an EHR at HealthIT.gov to the APTA's "Understanding and Adopting an Electronic Health Record," I can see that a great deal of time and effort has been spent easing the burden of such a massive undertaking. (Side note: It also makes me much more inclined to continue being an APTA member after graduation).

While I find myself overwhelmed throughout much of this process, I'm also impressed by how much I'm learning. I don't necessarily see myself wanting to own an outpatient physical therapy practice, but I have a new appreciation for the clinicians who take this leap. I continue to be amazed by the scope of this wonderful profession!

5 comments

As a 3rd year PT student, I have to admit that I feel unprepared to tackle my ultimate goal of owning an outpatient clinic.  While I am fortunate to have leadership and logistical training courtesy of the US Army, I feel that I know absolutely nothing of how to successfully run a business, much less navigate the ever changing insurance web that is required for reimbursment.  Fortunately, my final clinical rotation did expose me to the rigors of owning a clinic, yet still I feel the task is daunting.  I suppose the question that I really have is how does one begin to start a business?  How does one go about acquiring the funding, the loans, the right personnel?  These are the questions that dance around my mind late at night when I consider my future.  I must say that I am thankful for the links that were posted in the previous comments, but I can't help but feel that some type of medical business education within our current curriculum would be of benefit for students.  Perhaps it would best be addressed in a special topics course.  

Michelle, DPT Student April 23, 2013 8:45 PM
Greenville NC

Hey Lauren,

My dad has owned his own business for 25 years now, and I have seen firsthand how stressful it can be to do this. There was a time when I wanted to be a business owner (I started off as a business major in college), but now, it just seems like too much. However, I am a big believe in understanding how a business operates; I believe that it makes you a better clinician, and I almost feel it is an employee's duty. I watched so many employees steal my dad's time by talking, being on facebook, etc. while they were on the clock. It really gives you a whole different perspective on things, specifically, feelings of increased goodwill towards your boss.

Jessie Thompson April 20, 2013 8:53 PM
Greenville NC

As a first year PT student, I can completely understand your perspective as to how overwhelming the though of owning your own PT practice is when you are still working on getting a grasp on clinical skills.  Being the type of person I am, I have aspirations of one day becoming my own boss, but right now it is everything I can do to just to tackle my courseload.  My minor was in Business Administration in undergrad, and I have expericence managing in previous jobs, but it sounds like owning a PT practice would be an extremely difficult undertaking.  It is great that APTA is so helpful in navigating the terrain.  I guess as a profession that is so entrenched in teaching patients, families and other clinicians, it seems only natural that there would be a wealth of knowledge in helping each other succeed.  As I graduate become a more skilled clinician, and find a specialty I enjoy, I will certainly be looking to APTA to and the other sites you talked about to help me reach my aspirations to become my own boss.

Paul March 11, 2013 9:49 AM
Greenville NC

Ali- excellent resource!  I just shared it with my group and I think it will point us in the right direction.  Thank you!

Lauren Rosso, Student March 9, 2013 4:19 PM
Pittsburgh PA

I completely agree with you.  Several years ago I observed at an outpatient clinic under a PT.  The PT told me that he wished he studied business for his bachelors degree before he went to PT school.  Having a strong business base is essential to running a clinic.  

The APTA is extremely helpful.  I found a web page that guides a PT through the process of starting a practice that includes a resource for free business education:

http://www.apta.org/PracticeOwnership/StartingaPractice/  

Ali, DPT Student March 5, 2013 8:27 PM
Greenville NC

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