My Interview with Kimberly Scanlon, CCC-SLP and Author of My Toddler Talks, Part 2
Last Tuesday, I posted the first half of my informative and insightful interview with licensed and ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist, Kimberly Scanlon. She runs her own speech therapy practice and is also the published author of the book, My Toddler Talks. Last week, we discussed her vision for her book and the journey she took that led her to where she is today.
The second half of our interview offers experienced advice for therapists interested in starting their own practice as well as for those considering putting their own ideas and thoughts on paper. Enjoy!
Stephanie: Now that you have shared why you wrote My Toddler Talks, what advice can you give to therapists considering writing their own book?
Kimberly: Well first, dedicate time to write every day. If you don't make writing a priority, you won't do it. Believe me, I know. It's very easy to let one day slip into two, two into three and before you know it, weeks have passed. Along with the time, you also lose the spark, the rhythm and the connectivity of thought. It may take a few consecutive writing sessions to retrieve the flow.
Also, lead a well-balanced life and have other interests. For me, this is easier said than done. However, when I have interests other than speech therapy, and attend a yoga class, read a novel, or cook, I obtain a new perspective and it helps me create original content.
I also suggest reading Stephen King's, On Writing. I've never read anything by King before, but I couldn't help feeling that I personally knew him when I read his book. In addition to revealing a little about his life, he tells the reader about his own writing process and shares practical strategies that motivate him to write. Reading this book will inspire you to close your door, eliminate distractions and write. As I have started writing my second book (a follow up to My Toddler Talks), I often find myself referring back to On Writing for inspiration.
Keep an idea book in your purse, car, in the bathroom, or at your bedside. You never know when an idea will hit you. My best ideas present themselves when I'm in the shower or when I'm cooking.
Write a book for the right reasons. While I'm very happy with the success of my book, the profit is not going to allow me to retire any time soon. If I spent the time I used writing the book, and instead saw clients, I likely would have made more money seeing clients, but I simply enjoy writing and creating.
Stephanie: All great advice! I have such respect for authors and the dedication it takes to complete a book. I am also impressed with individuals who choose to open their own practice, another big endeavor! Please share what made you decide to open your own practice? Can you give information about the pros and cons of it? Things you may have done differently?
Kimberly: Deciding to start my own practice was simple; I wanted autonomy and flexibility. The process was gradual. I began with home-based therapy and picked up clients here and there while I worked as an independent contractor for various agencies. After time went by I concluded it would be more productive to lease an office space. Only 6 months ago, I found my office. It's cozy (aka small) but bright and happy and, most importantly, it's affordable. Since the rent is reasonable, I don't feel stressed during slow periods. In fact, I embrace them because it gives me time to write and create.
I can't say there is anything I would do differently. I would mention that I don't think having a private practice has to be your sole income source. It's certainly not the case for me. Thus far, I have had valuable clinical experiences in my relatively young career. As a naturally curious and energetic person, I still desire to learn more and interact with others. This is one reason why I continue to take on early intervention cases for agencies and am on call to work per diem a few hours when needed for local nursing homes.
- Autonomy and flexibility.
- Being your own boss allows you to set your hours. This was a great help after my daughter was born.
- You choose what disorders to treat and what clients to see. If you do not enjoy treating certain disorders (or are not experienced in treating them) you can refer to others who specialize in are particular area.
- Billing and collecting payments. If you have a private practice you have to be comfortable accepting payment for your services and knowing how to handle potentially awkward or uncomfortable situations (missed payments, clients attempting to negotiate fees, and whether to accept family, friends, or neighbors as clients).
- Expenses. Evaluation and treatment materials are expensive!
- Your income is not guaranteed. Clients get sick, go on vacation and sometimes even stop unexpectedly.
Stephanie: All good things to think about and my guess is the "cons" are some of the exact reasons why people shy away from starting their own practice. What advice would you give for other therapists considering opening their own practice?
- Learn from other speech-language pathologists! Join the American Academy of Private Practice in Speech Pathology and Audiology (AAPPSSPA). I'm also a member of some very supportive groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Read! There are wonderful resources to help you devise an initial plan and to assist you in getting started. I read Lynn Grodski's, Building Your Ideal Private Practice and found it helpful in organizing my strategy.
- Track your expenses. Assessment and treatment materials add up. Set a monthly or quarterly budget and stick to it.
- Manage your time. This is something that has been difficult for me since having my daughter. When you work for yourself, you do everything (treatment, paperwork, marketing, billing, phone calls, emails, etc.) and if you don't have set hours, you can end up working non-stop. Currently, I'm trying to unplug from social media and set limits on how often I post, remark, comment, or share. A presence on social media is important for marketing purposes; I need to be there. However, it can easily take up all your time. Remember time is money, but time is also your life.
- Be professional and set boundaries. I don't recommend "friending" clients on social media, giving or accepting expensive gifts, or sharing too many personal stories. It's a business relationship and they are paying for a service.
Thank you so much to Kimberly for participating in this interview! Your work and successes can truly be an inspiration to many therapists who would like to embark on some of the unchartered territory of writing a book and opening their own speech therapy practice!
To learn more about Kimberly and to purchase a copy of her book,
please visit: http://www.mytoddlertalks.com/