I hope you enjoy reading this post as much as I did!
Private Patients: A Great Opportunity for SLP's
Experiences During School Will Prepare You For...
It never ceases to amaze me how rich and diverse the field of Speech-Language Pathology is. Many incoming and early graduate students tend to think of our field in terms of:
- age range (mostly in terms of "kids or adults")
- specific disorders/impairments such as hearing loss, aphasia, autism, or dysphagia
- treatment settings such as early intervention, schools, clinics, or hospitals
Your Clinical Fellowship and Early Career
The 9-month clinical fellowship (CF) that will follow graduation is a both stressful and liberating time in your career. In many ways, you are on your own now: able to work on the areas where you feel your patient needs the most help. This degree of autonomy can be scary for many CF's but hopefully your supervisor, colleagues or former graduate school classmates can support and encourage your clinical decision making.
During the first few years of your career as a Speech-Language Pathologist you will continue to learn so much about disorders, how patients can present differently, how to manage patients and family dynamics, etc. At this stage you will likely begin to gravitate to a specific age group, diagnosis, etc. I urge you to take as many continuing education courses (CEU's) as you can as you build your expertise. You may even opt to change jobs or settings in order to gain more exposure to different aspects of our field. All of these things will help you to grow and provide excellent care for your patients.
I Wonder If I Could Ever Have A Private Practice...?
Almost every SLP friend of mine started out dreaming one day of having a private practice- but as they got into the field more and more, the safety of a regular job with consistent pay won out over the risk of going out on their own. To be honest, starting a private practice has a lot of extra work, extra responsibilities and headaches- but the trade off of high-income and more autonomy is very alluring for some people.
Private Patients: A Great Way to Start
Most of us got into this field because we love to help people, not because we wanted to make money. As time goes by though, the reality of car or house payments, wanting to have extra income for our families, vacations, etc. starts to hit and we become frustrated with our regular pay. Another benefit to private patients is flexibility of your schedule and also getting to treat ideal patients. Treating privately is a great way to help more people while making more money by seeing one to several private patients on the side.
How Does Private Therapy Work?
At some point, you will know colleagues that are treating private patients and a patient or family member will ask if you can provide private treatment. Private speech therapy is often requested as a way to deal with:
- to provide consistent therapy during gaps over the summer for school-aged children
- to supplement therapy already being received (kids or adults)
- to continue therapy if insurance won't continue to pay for services (kids or adults)
Is Private Therapy Right For You?
I recommend that you have at least 2-3 years experience as an SLP before you begin treating privately. You need to build up your expertise in a diagnosis or treatment technique so that your services are truly valuable to your private patients. Because you'll be doing this on your own, you need to develop a level of confidence about both your clinical and business skills before you start. Starting to see private patients is almost like your CF all over again. Once you have some practice and experience, you'll feel much stronger. Some clinicians start with private patients and then graduate to starting their own free-standing private practice- others keep their regular job and see private patients on the side.
I hope this has helped open your mind to yet another really cool aspect of the field of Speech-Language Pathology!
Jena H. Casbon, MS CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist and founder of The Independent Clinician. After graduating from Emerson College in 2005, she has worked with adult outpatients in a rehabilitation hospital and inpatients in a skilled nursing facility. Three years into practicing as an SLP, she began treating private patients- but the lack of a "how-to guide" bothered her, so she wrote one.
Follow Jena on Twitter @IndClinician and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/independentclinician
Be sure to visit http://www.IndependentClinician.com to learn more about how to treat private patients.