Naturopathic doctors have a number of responsibilities, including patient management, medical assessment and diagnosis, and other clinical work. 1 2 It is easy to forget that NDs who run their own practice also need to be adept at running a business in addition to practicing naturopathic medicine. 3 Note that starting your own business is only one of many career options for practicing NDs. See our Graduate Success and Compensation Study to learn more.
If you are currently studying to become a naturopathic doctor or considering beginning your career path as an ND, you may be wondering what your practice will look like once you are established. Here are some tried-and-true tips for starting your own business as a new ND If you choose to be a medical practice owner.
Put Your Patients First
Happy patients will recommend your practice to their friends and family. Fostering positive rapport with your patients is beneficial to your business because they will notice that you take the time to get to know them and to demonstrate that you care. They will remember this and let others know what a good experience they had, which can result in new patients coming to your clinic. Referrals by word of mouth are powerful, so always put your patients first and go the extra mile. Clearly defining your patient population will help you be more targeted and strategic in patient outreach and marketing as well.
Once you have established a good relationship with a patient, it is a good idea to ask them to review your practice. 72% of people check reviews before choosing a healthcare provider, so the more positive reviews you get from patients, the more new patients you are likely to attract. 4 Make sure you express your gratitude when a patient leaves you a review!
Learn the Basics of Marketing
It is important to learn some marketing basics, especially at the beginning when you may not yet be established enough to hire a professional to do your marketing for you. There are many free online resources that can teach you the fundamentals you need, such as how to build a simple website and create an effective social media presence. Block off some time each week to focus on marketing for your business.
Connect with Other Local Businesses
As a naturopathic doctor, you are an important part of your community. Get to know other local businesses and stay involved in local events. Networking helps promote your name and practice, build connections, and establish you as an active member of the community. This can be very beneficial to your business, and you may get some personally rewarding experiences out of it as well.
Network with Colleagues
Remember that your colleagues are a wonderful resource. Make an effort to connect with other naturopathic doctors and other provider types in different ways. Get in touch through online channels or in-person events and time to do this regularly. Other providers can be a great source of information, tips, support, and encouragement, especially when you are first starting out and may be in need of a little extra guidance.
Make Sure Your Staff Reflects You Well
Part of starting a new business involves hiring staff. It is crucial that you choose employees who embody your business values and provide the experience that you want patients to have. A poor front desk or assistant experience can easily tarnish the patient experience and drive them away. Followthrough and seamless patient experiences are vital to clinic longevity. Take the time to hire and train your staff well, and provide regular and proactive training to up level your team.
Complete a Post-Graduate Residency
Residencies are not required for licensure and practice (except in Utah), however many NDs who plan to run their own business choose to complete residencies for one to three years in order to gain relevant experience before starting their own practice. Residencies are a valuable opportunity that help new graduates gain confidence in their work. When you participate in a residency, you benefit from direct mentorship from those who have already been in your shoes.
Becoming a naturopathic doctor is a journey and you are continually learning to be a better healthcare provider and business owner, but these tips can help you on your way.