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The Ins and Outs Of Successful Physical Therapist’s Private Practices

The Ins & Outs Of Successful Physical Therapist’s Private Practices

Private Practice for the Physical Therapist can seem overwhelming and challenging. There’s the business plan, the continuous marketing and insurance billing, and long hours. Many physical therapists are well-trained in their trade but not on the business side. Here are some simple steps to initiate your own private practice and learn about the ups and downs from the successful pros.

Steps to take to initiate a private practice:

  • Figure out WHY you want to have a private practice. As an owner of a successful private practice, Chris Chorak, PT, Owner/Founder of Presidio Sport & Medicine in San Francisco and co-creator of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team-In-Training Triathlon program, spends about 25% of her time actually treating patients. The majority of the time is spent marketing, managing the staff, staying up-to-date with new regulations, and taking care of the business.
  • Know that you have something special to offer, as you have to differentiate yourself to succeed, informs Ann Duffy, MA, PT, owner of Duffy & Bracken Physical Therapy located in the Financial District of New York City.
  • Duffy also recommends knowing your target population: What area are you located in? What is needed and wanted by the public? Are there other physical therapists already present?
  • Chorak advises to join the American Physical Therapy Association and join their private practice section to get valuable and necessary tools.

Recommended Personality Traits:

  • Strength and Confidence are a must, affirms Chorak. Focus on what you do best and put your self out there! You will need to love to talk about your clinic/practice in order to market your self to the top.
  • Hard-working and Creativity are key, asserts Duffy. Being able to delegate work to others to grow your business and thinking outside of the box are essential. Passion can help create that special place in order to deliver all the potential one has.

Positive aspects of private practice:

  • Both Duffy and Chorak emphasize Empowerment. Empowering their staff by providing bonuses and further education is extremely rewarding.
  • Creating an environment where people can receive excellent care is a huge plus with Duffy.
  • Client satisfaction is number one with Chorak. “I love when people come back and talk about a great experience they had with a staff member they dealt with.”

Challenging aspects of private practice:

  • Insurance! Duffy explains the challenges dealing with low-paying insurance companies and the huge amount of paperwork. Some insurance companies do “retroactive reviews” which requires the PT to give the money back after performing the treatment. Understand your insurance policies/procedures and stay on top of all changes.
  • Staffing! Chorak describes the importance of finding the right team of staff members that are able to take your vision, follow it, and help grow your practice.

Making a difference in people’s lives is what drives both Chorak and Duffy to run their successful private practices. “I meet the coolest people on the planet and every person over 50 gives me free tips on how to run my business and age gracefully,” informs Chorak. “Everyday we take away pain, sometimes pain that a person has been living with for years. We give people hope and direction so they can get better,” states Duffy. This is what drives their success. Now it’s time to find yours. Jump in and get that practice started.

Recommended reading materials/CEU courses:

  • Esterson, Samuel. Starting and Managing Your Own Physical Therapy Practice.  2004.
  • Nicholson, Sheila. Physical Therapist’s Business Practice and Legal Guide.2007.
  • Chhoda, Nitin & Gulrajani, Ritika. Marketing for Phsycial Therapy Clinics:  Physical Therapy Private Practice Guru Reveals Insider Secrets for Physical Therapy Business Success (Volume 2). 2009.
  • Independence and Freedom for PT/OT’s. Private Practice Secrets Course: CEU Learning Course. IndieFree Association. 2011.

Recommended websites:

  • American Physical Therapy Association:
    Become a member and join the Private Practice Section to get a plethora of resources.
  • Your local Small Business Association:

Sarah Koszyk is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach at Eating Free, an online adult weight management program. She also provides in-person nutrition coaching at a private practice, MV Nutrition, in San Francisco, CA, where she specializes in sports nutrition and adult and pediatric weight management. You can follow her on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

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