About a year after completing my clinical fellowship, I got a bit restless at my job.
I had my dream job! I worked at one of the top rehabilitation hospitals in the country with incredibly interesting patients with complex needs -
but for some reason, I was unhappy.
Working in the outpatient department, I was keenly aware of insurance restrictions that my patients faced. Some people got approved for significantly fewer sessions than the severity of their diagnosis would warrant.
I worked long hours, often pulling 12 hour days (and only getting paid for 8 of those hours) and never feeling caught up.
And because of the earned time system, I got minimal vacation time. (Oh - and it turns out that working for a big name hospital doesn't mean big pay!)
Within 6 months of having a "budding interest" in treating private clients, I was consistently treating 2-3 sessions per week and starting to build a reputation in the community.
I kept pinching myself.
As my number of referrals grew, I ran out of available slots in the early evenings and on weekends. I was lucky to have the ability to flex my schedule and drop down to 32 hours a week. With three afternoons "off," I was able to treat 6-8 private therapy sessions per week.
My job and personal satisfaction skyrocketed (and my bank account was feeling the love too.)
But what I'm most proud of is this:
One of the reasons why people decide to pursue careers in speech-language pathology, occupational therapy and physical therapy is for "flexibility."
Then you get into the field and realize that most jobs aren't quite as flexible as you had hoped.
If you decide to treat private clients, you can treat clients after work or on weekends - or reduce your hours at your "regular job" to allow for more private client time.
If you've been out of the field for a while to raise kids - or are planning to retire soon - treating privately can fit easily into your schedule around other responsibilities - which is why many people in these situations opt for this approach.
Jena H. Casbon, MS CCC-SLP is a private practice consultant who helps SLPs, OTs and PTs start their own private practices. She is the author of two books: The Guide to Private Patients and The Guide to Creating a Web Presence For Your Private Practice and an online course, Grow Your Private Practice.