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Blog #12 - Business Skills vs Clinical Skills in Private Practice

When I ask most business owners what are the some of the topics that are taught to their new graduates starting in private practice? They will often proceed to list off the following:

- Shoulder Assessment and Treatments

- Low Back Pain Assessments and Treatments

and the list goes on.........

However, one of the most important aspects of training for a new graduate starting a career in a physiotherapy private practice is the business skills that are not taught at university. Now I am not talking about making them learn your profit and loss balance sheet, but the vital tools that are required to become a private practitioner in your business. Such topics are:

- Customer service skills

- Dealing with WorkCover & Third Party Companies

- Building a clientele

- What to say to build trust in your patient-therapist relationship

- Selling stock

And the list goes on.

You see fast tracking a graduate in your business to acquire these non clinical skills very quickly is what builds clientele and fills their appointment books. It is no use having an exceptionally clinical graduate that can not get patients to return for treatments and have a DNA and UTA list as long as your arm.

I am not saying that clinical training should be put on the back burner, but a good balance between clinical and business knowledge early on in a graduates career will enhance the professional growth of your graduate and the growth of your business.

Most graduates I have encountered have a very good grasp on assessments, in fact they want to test every little thing they have ever been taught. Graduates need to be streamlined for private practice. I am not saying taking short cuts but learning to listen to their patients and filter the most important information and assess according to the information given.

They always tend to want to search for the weird, wonderful and rare first, when the most obvious is staring them in the face. They will often have all the answers from the assessment sitting in front of them, but like a jigsaw puzzle they are unsure where the pieces go to create a picture. This is called clinical reasoning, and this will develop faster with a good mentor to bounce ideas off, filter information and give appropriate feedback. It will be a much slower process if it is not nurtured and this will only reflect in patient numbers for your graduate.

Graduates all finish university with a baseline level of clinical knowledge that lacks clinical reasoning that needs mentorship in the early stages of their career. More and more graduates are starting a career in a private practice and we often scratch our heads as business owners as to why they are slow to build a caseload. However, what they lack for a private practice setting is the business knowledge to gain them a patient load and allow them to use the right language to keep a patient load so that they can follow through with rehabilitation plans until a patient is functioning at their best = happy customer, happy graduate and happy business owner.

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