So, you’ve spent enough time working for other people. You want to spread those wings and enjoy the freedom of issuing your own paycheck. Where do you start? What can you even do? These might be the top two questions you have at the moment.
However, we can’t help being happy for you. What a milestone. We think it’s great you’ve decided to open your own practice. It’s also great if you came here because you are thinking about it. No matter the case, welcome to square one in the game of entrepreneurship.
Before you get started
As with any game, there are rules. Let’s say that you’re here because you have an idea. You haven’t done anything yet. The first thing you need to ask yourself is: can I even start my own practice?
Remember: there are some states where nurses are not allowed to work independently. If you don’t live in a place with FPA, it may be a little difficult to do your own thing. You might have to think about a different business idea.
Some nurses need physician oversight their entire careers, so you have to find out what laws apply to you.
First steps to take
Two years ago, we wrote an article called The 6 Things Nurse Practitioners Need to Know Before Opening their Own Practice. You’re invited to read it and then come back here. It will show you some other important things you need to consider as well.
So, after checking the state laws, what are the first things you need to do to open your own practice?
1. Gather information on the required licensing and permits
Some people leave this one for later, so we’re giving it first place. Even if you’re just going to do visits, there might be one piece of paper or two that you need to get.
2. Apply for a National Provider Identifier (NPI)
It’s very important that you get your NPI. You’ll need it in order to bill Medicare and to get access to health records, for example. Here’s why you should have one, even if you’re not billing.
3. Determine which supplies you will need
You have to be sure about the things you’ll need to do your job the right way. Start looking for prices today. Find out whether you can get started with some used equipment. If you take some time to do this, you will eventually save money that you invest in other parts of the practice.
4. Start leveraging social media today
You can start doing this by promoting yourself on your preferred platform, but if you’re too shy for that, leverage social media by joining entrepreneurship groups and networking. Don’t think social media only means Facebook, or Instagram. You can make YouTube videos too! Lots of nurses are doing that right now and it pays off.
5. Malpractice insurance
Pretty self-explanatory. You’ll need this to avoid ugly situations with patients. People tend to postpone this or forget about it, don’t join them! You also have to think about business insurance, and maybe even cyber insurance to protect against hacking.
Here’s an article from Investopedia on the 7 best malpractice insurance companies available today.
Other things you’ll need to consider down the road
After you’ve checked the things above off your list, you’ll be ready to start thinking about things like the team you need to put together. We’re not necessarily talking about staff, or business partners, but rather the people that will help you with taxes, legal matters, and so on.
Also, if you’re working with medication, you’ll need to register with the DEA in your state. This ties in with another important aspect: location.
What other types of businesses can I open as an NP?
If you live in a state where practice is restricted, you can still make use of your nursing knowledge in a thousand ways. Below are some of the most common:
- Starting an educational business
- Getting into consulting (medical or legal)
- Opening a medical spa (or similar medical treatment center)
- Becoming a health coach
- Going into private or concierge nursing
A great business idea might be at the intersection of two or three of these options. For example, you could become a specialized health coach, working only with a certain type of patient, or a certain type of illness. Health coaching for athletes, health coaching for people with diabetes, etc.
Having one clear idea is important, but you have to be open to changing it, expanding on it. That’s part of the development process. Sometimes you’ll have to take a step back to see if your idea is really doable.
Some of these ideas also apply to people who want to open their own practice. You can expand the range of services you want to offer by taking some of them into consideration.
Three nurse entrepreneurs that you should meet
We’ve met a lot of nurses that have transitioned into entrepreneurs. All of them have had great (and not-so-great) experiences about trying to make it on their own. Some were kind enough to let us share their wisdom with the world.
The first one we want to introduce today is Lorraine Bock, co-founder of the National Nurse Practitioner Entrepreneur Network (NNPEN). She works to help NPs achieve success with their own practices.
We interviewed her for our podcast, Healthcare Heroes, and she gave a lot of advice about insurance, finances, and learning to get up after going down, among other things.
Number three. If you’re unsure about starting your practice, or still need some time before chasing that dream, check out our interview with Catie Harris, founder of NursePreneurs for some insight and inspiration.
Some more resources for you
We have written lots of articles on this subject before, but there are too many to list here. However, you can start reading them all here on our blog.
The AANP also has many resources on getting started, and you can find information there that will help you develop your own practice. See their Practice Management website to learn more.
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