When we meet pediatric private practice owners, we so often hear the same story—they are overloaded and overwhelmed. They’re holding down functions that range from paying the rent to delivering therapy and from sweeping the front walk to doing the taxes.We know with 100% certainty that trying to hold down all these functions is a fast path to exhaustion and burnout. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to achieve a work-life balance that gives you time with your family, time to pursue training, and less stress as a practice owner. The five tips below can get you well on your way to achieving this better balance.
- Clearly define your expectations for your staff. Start by writing clear and complete job descriptions that cover the functions and responsibilities you expect from each position in your practice. If they’re too long-winded or complex, they won’t work so KISS—keep it simple, sweetie! (You might have heard that acronym defined differently; we prefer our definition.) When each employee understands their functions, you are much closer to being able to trust your staff to carry out their duties responsibly.
- Train staff on job descriptions and practice policies. Of course, this assumes that the job descriptions, procedures and policies have already been written. If they haven’t, start there. Then once they are written, your staff should be given the job descriptions for their positions plus procedural write-ups relevant to their jobs plus any employee and company policies they will need to do their jobs. It should be someone’s job (usually HR) to follow up with employees after they have studied these write-ups to ensure they really grasp them.
- Empower your staff by giving them more authority. For a lot of pediatric private practice owners, this is the hard part. You’re going to have to give your staff the freedom to start dealing with problems in their areas. It’s a lot like seeing your kids get their driver’s licenses and drive off the first time. It’s pretty nerve-wracking. But for your practice to stably grow and for you to achieve a better work-life balance, it has to be done. If they come to you for answers, ask them how they think their situation should be addressed. They’ll soon get the message.
- Know when it’s time to add staff. You ought to know when a therapist begins to pay for herself or himself. In other words, when your therapists get to a certain number of visits every week, the income they bring in should cover their cost. It might be 15 or 20 visits a week or maybe more for some specialties. When you hit that mark, you should start looking for the next person to add. If you’ve been attracting good prospects all along the way, this might be pretty easy.
- Pass some of your patients to other in-house therapists. Remember, you are the CEO of your practice, not a full-time therapist and not the office manager. You need time to think like a CEO and make plans for the future. If your schedule is flooded with paperwork and patient treatment, start assigning some patients to one of your therapists.
CEO More, Treat Less
In point five above, I advised you to reassign some of your patients to another therapist in your practice. I know this idea may worry you because you want to stay relevant and that’s a valid concern. But you can stay relevant through your lead clinicians who themselves stay relevant by taking over these tasks. Of course, treating patients is very rewarding; after all, that’s why you’re in this profession. But I invite you to shift your perspective toward helping the greater number. The more you train up and act as the CEO, the more kiddos you will help in the long run. It also enables you to have a better work-life balance. As you move more into being the CEO, make sure you have a job description for yourself as well. If you avoid CEO duties because you feel like you’re in the dark and are more sure of yourself as a therapist than a CEO, reach out to me—I can help you there. It’s only natural to focus on what you do best and avoid the rest.
Thinking Like a CEO
You can break out of the patterns that make owning a pediatric private practice overwhelming. I understand it can be tough to turn over the reins. After all, you’re yielding some control of the practice you built with your blood, sweat and tears. Well, that’s why we urge you to have good hiring policies in place. Good policies and procedures enable you to hire competent people who are compatible with your culture. It really starts with having quality people who, once they are trained, can be trusted to make decisions that benefit your practice. If you can implement all five of the tips listed above, you’re going to see more and more days when you have the time and freedom to think like a CEO and make plans for the future. Or plans to take a long-awaited trip with your family!
It May Take a Little Time
This change is not going to happen overnight—creating job descriptions, training staff, hiring and so on all take some work. However, one way you can lighten your workload right now is to start delegating tasks to your proven employees. Give them the ball and let them run with it while keeping an eye on their progress. If they make a mistake, correct them and keep monitoring their results until you see they are doing fine without you. They’ll be happier and so will you.For more information on how to manage and grow your pediatric private practice, check out our free webinars every other week for practice owners only. I hope you find some inspiration that helps you thrive.