I’ve always loved being a nurse practitioner. I love seeing the pride on my patient’s face when he shows me his blood glucose readings are all within range, tells me how his energy levels have improved, how much weight he’s lost and thanks me for my part in helping him achieve those goals. Or when a mother hugs me and thanks me for helping her child breathe easily again after an asthma attack. These seemingly small moments are intensely rewarding.
However, there was a time when I didn’t like what my nurse practitioner job had become.
I didn’t like being pressured to see an ever-increasing numbers of patients. I was drowning under the growing documentation demands. And all the while my salary stayed stagnant, no matter how much more work I was doing.
And the most troubling part actually had nothing to do with me! I worried about the toll this took on my patients. If they couldn’t see me for follow-up appointments within a reasonable timeframe because my employer booked my schedule to the seams, how would they get proper treatment? Was I missing key information because of shortened visit length?
And yet, I had no voice within the practice about decisions that affected me and the people I cared for.
So, while I loved being a nurse practitioner, I didn’t like my job. Unfortunately, this is what what many APN jobs have become.
That’s when I started thinking about starting my own practice.
And that’s when the fears started to creep in.
Each roadblock served as excuse not to start my practice.
I consistently delayed taking significant steps in starting my own practice because of one simple reason: fear.
I was afraid to make the transition.
So, if you’ve had the brave notion of starting YOUR own practice, but are delaying or nervous, or afraid, let’s talk about each of those big-hairy-scary fears and how you can EASILY overcome them. :
- Fear of losing money:
Money is one of the biggest concerns most nurse owners have. So let’s tackle the big-hairy-scary monster right now.
Traditionally, starting a healthcare practice required a lot of money. You needed an attorney to get started, an office space, lab or radiology equipment, an inventory of vaccines, a biller, an office manager, an answering service, and the list goes on.
But that’s no longer the case. Today, you can start your practice for less than $5k.
Need an LLC? There’s an online service for that, and it’s cheap.
Why lease an expensive office space when you can make home visits, or utilize telemedicine while you get started? Instead of investing in lab or radiology equipment, consider sending your patients to local draw stations and radiology centers.
Think you need to hire a full time biller? You can use an automated and outsourced billing service instead.
Think you need a receptionist? There are now a plethora of high tech and low cost alternatives.
Bottom line, the world has changed drastically over the past few years, and the cost of starting a healthcare practice is now within your reach, as long as you think outside of the traditional practice model.
- Fear of failing at business:
While you’re most likely a very confident clinician, being worried that you aren’t a competent businessperson is a common concern – and that’s true for ALL new business owners. The fear of failure is real, and it impacts all of us.
People try to conquer this fear in one of two ways:
1) Ignore it
2) Turn to inspirational phrases or affirmations to push through the fear.
Neither work very well.
Ignoring fear leads to bad decisions.
Trying to “push through” with inspirational platitude makes you ignore the real issues.
Here’s what really works. Accept your fear. It’s OK to be afraid of failing. Courage is not a lack of fear, but a recognition of the fear, followed by the act of facing it.
Your fear makes you COURAGEOUS.
Once you’ve recognized you are afraid, but still want to go forward, ask yourself: “If everything goes wrong, what do I really lose?”
List everything that will go wrong if you fail. Physically write down the things you’re afraid will happen. You might lose some money. You might feel guilt or shame. You might have to fire someone. …Write them all down. Tim Ferriss guides you through this activity here.
Now ask yourself–if all of this happened, could I survive it? (hint: the answer is yes, you will survive).
By going through this process, you will actually see a much clearer path to all the things you DO want, instead of constantly worrying about what you want to avoid.
- Fear of the unknown:
Most fears are a fear of the unknown. Starting a business, especially one as complicated as a health care practice, is confusing and filled with unknowns.
But there is an obvious solution: get help from people who have done it before.
If you have the right help at the beginning, starting a business is something you can learn ‘on the job’. Think back to your clinical training, and compare that to the provider you are today.
Did you graduate with all of your current skills and expertise? The answer is ‘no’. Most of what you know today, you learned ‘on the job’.
That’s why it’s vitally important to have good mentors and a strong network of peers to help guide you. While you may have never encountered a particular problem before, in a good network, someone else has.
Starting a business isn’t for the fearless. It’s for nurses who prepare themselves, who find good mentors to guide them, and who carefully recognize and balance the risks.
Download your copy of “The 6 Questions Every APN Should Answer Before Starting a Practice” and get the answers that will help you launch your practice! The AANE is always creating content to help you through your entrepreneurial journey. Download your guide today and get the most relevant information that affects APNs just like you.