Lessons Learned Over 3 Years as a Private Practice Owner

Starting a private practice is one thing, but keeping a private practice oncology clinic running for 3 years through a pandemic is a different thing entirely.

Lisa Sylvestri, a seasoned oncology & lymphedema physical therapist, has been running her own private clinic (Oasis Physical Therapy & Wellness) for the past three years. Lisa’s dedication to helping cancer patients regain their physical strength and improve their overall quality of life is truly inspiring. 

In this podcast interview, Lisa shared the behind-the-scenes details of what it takes to run a successful private oncology physical therapy clinic. From the challenges she has faced to the rewards she has reaped, Lisa’s insights will undoubtedly be valuable to anyone who is considering starting their own private practice in this field.

Treating patients is the easy part of running a private practice.

Treating patients is undoubtedly the core of any private oncology physical therapy practice. 

However, it’s essential to recognize that treating patients is only one aspect of running a successful practice. Behind the scenes, there are many other tasks that must be taken care of to ensure that the practice runs smoothly. These include managing finances, maintaining accurate records, marketing the practice, hiring and training employees, and much more. 

While treating patients is undoubtedly the most rewarding part of running a private practice, it’s crucial to recognize that there are many other responsibilities that must be handled to ensure the long-term success of the practice. By developing the skills and knowledge required to manage these responsibilities effectively, physical therapists can build thriving private practices that provide high-quality care to patients while also achieving long-term financial success.

Lisa notes that seeing patients truly throughout the continuum of care is just now starting to become natural, three years into her practice.  This is a great example that it takes WORK to truly implement best practice consistently, especially in private practice.

Challenges of Running a Private Oncology PT Practice:

Running a private oncology physical therapy practice can be incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is finding qualified employees who share your vision and commitment to patient care. Hiring the right people is crucial for the success of your practice, and it can be difficult to find the perfect fit. 

Establishing systems to keep the practice running on a day-to-day basis is another significant challenge. From scheduling appointments to managing patient records, there are many moving parts that require careful attention and organization. 

Finally, forecasting money is also a crucial aspect of running a private practice. As a business owner, you need to be able to plan for the future, budget for expenses, and set financial goals to ensure the long-term success of your practice. While these challenges can be daunting, with careful planning, attention to detail, and a willingness to adapt, they can be overcome.

Business is business: do not take things personally.

Transitioning from a corporate physical therapy setting to running your own private practice can require unlearning certain habits and mindsets. One of the most important things to unlearn is the belief that you should not take things personally, as it’s just business. 

However, in a private practice, building relationships with patients is essential. It’s important to recognize that building a successful practice requires not only clinical expertise but also the ability to connect with patients on a personal level. Therefore, it’s crucial to unlearn the mindset that you should not take things personally and instead focus on building meaningful relationships with your patients. By doing so, you will establish a loyal patient base that will help drive the long-term success of your practice.

Investing in your practice is critical to growth.

Investing in yourself is a critical component of running an effective private oncology physical therapy practice. As a physical therapist, your knowledge and skills are your greatest assets. It’s essential to continuously educate yourself, stay up-to-date with the latest research, and attend conferences and workshops to learn from other experts in the field. Not only does this enhance your clinical skills, but it also shows your patients that you are committed to providing them with the best possible care. 

In addition to clinical education, it’s also crucial to invest in your personal and professional development, such as hiring a business coach, networking with other healthcare professionals, and practicing self-care. By investing in yourself, you will not only become a better physical therapist, but you will also be better equipped to manage and grow your private practice.

At the end of the day, you should not be doing anything by yourself.  If you are, you’re thinking too small & acting too small.  

Private practices can’t compete with the big hospital or corporate systems.  And we shouldn’t try to either:

Lisa notes that there’s no way she can compete with the big hospital or corporate clinic systems.  However, we shouldn’t be competing, & here’s why:

These large systems can offer only what a patient’s insurance does, before discharging or discontinuing that patient’s episode of care.  For many patients, they are just a number in an ever-turning wheel.

But in small private practices, we have an edge in QUALITY patient care: we can offer more personalized sessions, with care spanning across the continuum.  Lisa also notes the degree of follow-up & follow-through she provides is unmatched by corporate PT.

As employers, we can provide more flexibility for employees, both in schedule & types of patients they see.    

Want to learn how to start & run your own practice?  Check out Lisa’s new course!

This course outlines the information and steps that Lisa utilized to start and grow her oncology rehab and lymphedema private practice. Lisa also shares the behind the scenes of what she wishes she knew when first getting started.  Save 25% with discount code ONCOPT.

Lisa also has a brand new online Strength After Breast Cancer course for patients:

This is a structured, five week course to help you understand lymphedema risk, lymphedema management, and the safest and most effective way to begin an exercise program.  Patients can save 25% with discount code ONCOPT.

Until next time, this is Elise with TheOncoPT. And remember you are exactly the physical therapist that your patients with cancer need. So let’s get to work.

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