The business side of setting up your own medical practice


Have you always dreamed of having your own medical practice? Whether you’ve recently graduated from medical school or another health care program or you have been working in the field for years, you may have felt as though a lack of business expertise is holding you back.

The good news is that you can learn some of what you need and pay someone else for the more complex tasks or knowledge. However, before getting started, there are a few things you should take into consideration

Student Loans

Nearly every physician graduates with medical school loans, and this debt can be significant. The good news is that if this is the situation you are in, you are far from alone. There are a few ways you may be able to deal with the debt and still start your own practice.

Even though there is a forbearance period during residency, interest accumulates, and financially, the best approach might be to make payments anyway. You may also want to look into refinancing, particularly if you have a high interest rate. Another possibility is loan forgiveness programs. You may be able to have a substantial portion of your loans forgiven if you work in certain areas where there are shortages for a period of several years.

The Long Term

If you specialized in an area that pays well, you might be offered a high-paying job on finishing medical school that tempts you to accept. The reasoning is that this could help you pay off your loans much more quickly and allow you to open your practice sooner. However, it’s important to keep in mind that having your own practice is about more than just having money.

You might want to consider instead getting on a partnership track at a small private practice. This could mean an arrangement like exchanging a higher salary for growing equity in the business. This particular solution might not be one that works for you, but the important takeaway is that you should have a sense of your long-term goals and make decisions accordingly.

The Right Team

An attorney, a business adviser, a marketing consultant and an accountant may be among the professional team that you hire to help you set up and run your business. Talk to other medical professionals to get recommendations, read online reviews and listen to your gut feeling. Your team needs to be composed of people who are good at what they do, but you also need to feel like you can work with them.

The Business Side

Members of your team should help you with this part of setting up your own practice. This includes putting together a business plan, developing a personal brand and considering how you will market your services. If you want to go back to the small town where you grew up and set up shop as a family doctor, your approach might be different from someone who wants to specialize in an area such as orthopedic sports medicine or dermatology in a large city.