The keys to starting your own spine practice

Practice Management

Starting your own spine practice takes more than just a medical school education, according to an Aug. 29 report from the American Medical Association. 

Physicians who want to succeed in the business need not only medical knowledge and expertise, but business management and entrepreneurship skills as well. 

"Independent practice is actually the solution to many of the issues we see in the American healthcare system today," Daniel Choi, MD, a Long Island, N.Y.-based orthopedic spinal surgeon, told AMA. "Independent practice puts medicine back into the hands of physicians. It gives us control over all aspects of decision making of the patient's care. You're not sitting there doing conveyor-belt medicine, getting forced to see 30, 40, 50 patients a day and feeling like you have no control over your lifestyle and your hours."

Dr. Choi says that in addition to business skills, physicians who open their own practice also need astute clinical judgment, a commitment to collaboration and problem solving skills. 

"We don't learn any of that in med school or residency, or even being a young attending in a group or anything like that. That's really not what you focus your energies and efforts on," said Dr. Choi. "You're learning all these sciences, which is what you need to learn as a physician. But we really get no formal business training. We don't learn anything about human resources, about compliance, about reading profit and loss statements, or even writing a business plan to get a loan." 

Starting a practice also takes financial reserves to rent an office space, hire employees and buy supplies, so Dr. Choi says you have to be willing to put not only your heart and soul into the practice, but your nest egg as well.

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