Nurse practitioners (NPs) fortunate enough to live in states that now recognize a broader scope of practice for NPs benefit through having so many more career paths to choose from. They are not confined to only the old traditional nurse practitioners jobs assisting doctors in their private practices or working at hospitals. They can now open practices or choose to go to work for neighborhood clinics, pharmacy-based clinics, and so on.
The NP wishing to open an independent practice potentially has the most freedom of all. What is really exciting about this opportunity is that more advanced practice nurses are choosing private practice at the same time family doctors and GPs are leaving it behind in favor of hospitalist work or joining hospital-based physician groups. That essentially means the NP is becoming the small, independent family medicine caregiver to an entirely new generation.
Establishing a private practice as an NP is essentially starting one’s own business. Therefore, the business side of medicine cannot be ignored by the NP. There are numerous things the medical professional has to think about before opening a private NP practice. Here are three of them:
Potential Areas of Specialty
Nurse practitioners can choose specific specialties just like doctors. The most common choice in the emerging field of private practice NPs is primary care for patients of all ages. Primary care is in high demand in an era of specialties that are taking doctors away from independent practice.
Some NPs may prefer to focus more on pediatric medicine while others may have a preference for geriatrics. The point is one of deciding on a particular specialty before opening a practice, as the choice of specialty will affect a long list of other factors including office location, fee structures, marketing, etc.
Demand for Specialty
Once the NP has determined his or her preferred specialty, an honest assessment must be done to determine if there is demand for that specialty in the local area. Remember, this is a business. Attempting to open an independent NP practice in a field that is already saturated with the NP’s chosen specialty could make for tough sledding. Alternate choices would include either selecting a new specialty or moving to an area where services are more in demand.
As a general rule, nurse practitioners should not run into supply and demand issues for primary care. There is a shortage of primary care available in just about every community in the country. But with some other specialties, the market can be competitive enough to require some careful thought and planning.
Marketing the New Practice
Getting a new practice off the ground requires at least some marketing. The good news with healthcare is that the need for marketing tends to be limited in terms of both time and scope. Demand is such that once a practice is established with a good reputation, any and all remaining patient slots usually fill up rapidly simply by word of mouth.
Having said that, the new independent NP will need to market at least for a few months, if not longer. Online is a very good way to go using social media, local bulletin boards, and even a practice website. An SEO professional can help the new NP make the most of online marketing efforts across multiple platforms.
Today’s advanced practice jobs include several new career path options thanks to states broadening the scope of practice for NPs. The biggest beneficiaries, at least from a self-employment standpoint, are those who want to open their own independent practices.