7 reasons NOT to Start a Healthcare Practice

While Nurse Practitioners can and do make great business owners, not everyone is cut out to start, own or operate their own healthcare practice.

Here are 7 reasons why you may NOT want to start your own practice (at least not right away):

1. You are risk adverse.
You need and want a guarantee that everything will work out perfectly. If the thought that cash flow might be a challenge at times causes you to have an anxiety attack before you even open your door, you should reconsider your decision to start a practice.

While it will be your goal to reach a level in your business where this is a non-issue, the truth is that all practices experience some cash flow issues from time to time, often during start up.

2. You work hard all day and you expect to go home at 5pm.
Starting and operating your own practice in all likeliness means that you may not be able to go home at 5pm – at least not in the beginning.

Many of us, self employed or not, often stay to finish up patient calls, documentation and other paperwork. As a business owner, you’ll also have a number of other responsibilities that must be attended to on an ongoing basis.

3. You shy away from taking on a lot of responsibility.
You are fine with being responsible for your own actions, but you don’t want to be responsible for anyone else in the office.

However, as the business owner, the proverbial “buck” stops with you. You are responsible for everything that happens in your business. Period!

4. You are a recent graduate of your Nurse Practitioner program.
I always recommend you take the first few (or more) years following graduation to really hone your skills. There is nothing to say you cannot begin to learn about business during this time, but your focus needs to be on becoming an expert clinician.

5. You have no money, no job, a poor credit rating, and no way to obtain a startup loan.
Stop right here. Starting a business with no money or resources sounds too good to be true right? It is. While you can start a practice on a shoestring budget and bootstrap the entire thing, you still have to have that shoestring budget.

You need money for living expenses, rent, supplies, equipment, insurance, staff and more. Save up your money, repair your credit and explore various funding options.

Many clinicians work full time while starting a part time practice. The last thing you want is to be in huge debt.

6. Your ideal practice is that you’ll be able to focus strictly on your patients.
Unless you are going to hire a practice manager who will manage every aspect of your business for you, then being a business owner is not for you.

Running your own practice means will you focus on your patients, but you’ll also have to pay attention to your staff, the bills that need to be paid,  your outstanding AR, and what’s happened to the plumbing…just to mention a few things.

If some degree of “multi-tasking” is not in your nature, then stick with being employed.

7. You plan to only work for a few more years before stopping to having children, travel, or retire.
Getting started takes a lot of time and energy.

Think about a plane. Most of the energy and fuel is spent during takeoff and far less is spent when flying at cruising altitude.

If you plan to leave your business after a short time, you may want to delay or avoid starting it all together.

The healthcare environment continues to undergo change. And change always brings an abundance of opportunity.

Are there only 7 reasons not to start a healthcare practice? No, there are plenty of other reasons, and this is a good start.  That said, practice ownership for nurse practitioners and other advanced practice clinicians is a great option if you are prepared. On the other hand, if you’re not prepared and ready to take on the challenge…you will be better off waiting until you are.

Are you thinking of starting a practice? Do you feel prepared? Tell us your thoughts below.

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  1. I had my own NP practice, Family medicine, also did Colposcopy. It is at least a 14 hr. a day job with hours in the evening posting billing & trying to collect from clients. My practice was from 2006-2012. I was very driven back then & I did it simply to stay in my own community. At that time I had tree children in school & I was the first NP who established a practice. The patients I saw were friends, Family & a lot of medical Assistance clients that the physicians did not want to see. I enjoyed it while I did it, however my collaborator became ill and I was unable to find another one. The Physicians in our rural area were unhappy with myself & my collaborator.

  2. Theresa, thanks for sharing your experience. Unfortunately, there are some locations where physicians are less than supportive of the work we do. This is always why I suggest someone has at least 2 collaborating physicians.

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