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Getting started in Psychology
Setting up a Psychologist Practice
After you have finished graduate school and the internship, you will start to think about setting up a practice. There are several options where you can have a practice, such as in a hospital, with a group of psychologists or in your own private practice. There are pros and cons to each of these options including the amount of business experience you have and what area of the city you would like to practice in.
After all of the hard work required to earn a doctorate, many psychologist have a goal to start their own private practice. With your own practice, you will be able set your own fee, make your own hours and schedule and determine the type of client populations you would prefer to work according to your specializations. There is no one to answer to but you, however, setting up you own private practice requires extreme dedication to making the business operational and financial feasible. If you operate a private practice there is a great deal of paperwork you will be responsible for, including insurance claims. When you first begin your practice, it may be difficult to have a steady income due to the time it will take to build up your client list. Also where you choose to open a practice at will play a part in the number of clients you can expect. For example, a rural office will not typically receive as many clients as you would expect to see in an urban psychologist office. There are a great many details that you will be responsible for such as hiring office personnel, marketing your new practice and maintaining all of the required paperwork that you will need as an independent business owner. A private practice is a rewarding experience and you will be doing what you spend several years preparing for, however, for some recent graduates working with another organization helps with the preparations necessary to work independently.
There are also pros and cons to working in a practice with an established group of psychologists. When you are sharing a practice, you will also be sharing the overhead that is associated with the business, such as the utilities and the lease for the building. When you join an established group of professionals, you may not have the option to practice in a specific field. The majority of practices that have several psychologists in the same building will take clients on a “first come, first served” basis, meaning you may not see as many clients as you had intended on. However, if you are a recent graduate, working with a group is the perfect opportunity to learn how the business aspect of a practice operates, how to handle the insurance claims and you will be able to build up a client following, all of which could prepare you for a private practice.
Setting up a practice in a hospital or mental health facility is another option you could consider. When you work in a hospital setting, you will typically have your own office, a nurse or other office personnel supplied by the hospital and you will have a steady stream of clients. There is typically no overhead, although a few hospitals may charge an office leasing fee if you also see private clients. You will primarily see clients who have been admitted into the hospital; however, these clients will also usually be assigned to you following their discharge. When you work in a hospital setting, you typically cannot set your own fees and you will have to work the schedule assigned by the hospital. For a recent graduate, a hospital setting is the perfect opportunity to get a great deal of client interaction and you will eventually have an extensive client list.