It is the eve of the opening of my solo private practice, Houston Female Urology! I cannot believe it is actually happening. I am sort of in a state of shock, actually.
This is a REALLY big deal. I think most people don’t appreciate what goes into opening a medical practice. It’s not only starting a business, but also a medical practice. Not only did I have to buy computers and printers and office supplies, but also exam beds, lights, cotton swabs, major equipment, etc etc. I have numerous government regulations on medicine to learn and to comply with. I had to sign up for Medicare and all the insurance companies, a job so big that I outsourced to a firm that does only that. I have spent a lot of savings to get this business going. It really is a big deal, and a risky proposition.
I have dreamt of having my own office for female urology for several years. I’ve been in a prestigious urology group in Houston for twelve years, since I finished my residency training in 2002. While I really enjoyed being in the group, I could see the need for an office where women could come in for urologic care and know that they are the full focus of the office, as most urology has traditionally been geared toward men. Women have sought me out as a urology doctor who is a woman, and my practice has naturally become more and more focused on female urology over the years. So, it just seemed like a very natural next step in my medical practice. And, most of all, I love female urology. I think it is fascinating.
Many of my colleagues think I am completely crazy to open a solo practice in the current state of medicine today. (Maybe I am crazy!) In the world of medicine today, the payments get smaller and smaller; the regulations increase; it takes so much time and effort to collect from the insurance companies. It is like a game that we have to play with them. The business side of medicine is very difficult. That is why most doctors just want to work for a hospital and not have to deal with it.
But the drive inside of me tells me that I have to take this risk. I only have one life to live, and I don’t want to have any regrets. Life is an adventure to be lived with passion. This drive that has not subsided for several years, and it is time now to jump in. I see many colleagues in solo practice who are doing well. I am confident that I have what it takes to succeed, with God’s help. And if it doesn’t work out, I’m OK with that!
Planning has been going on for a long, long time, but the last few months, and especially the past few weeks, have been incredibly intense. I have had to learn so much about business in general, the medical regulations, and all the various, endless choices that go into setting up a practice. I was prepared for it because I researched what I would need to do. Even so, it is a bit overwhelming: everything from phone system “trunks” to what kind of printer do I need (laser or inkjet?) to picking out exam lights and tables. It goes on and on! I can’t believe how many different types of betadine swab options there are!
It’s been a fun journey! My staff has really given their all, and we’ve enjoyed this time of setting up. (Free lunch every day from our great drug reps!) Sometimes things don’t go as planned…the electrical outlet doesn’t work where we set up the water cooler, the paper towel holders don’t fit now that we added upper cabinets, the computer system isn’t quite working. As much as I want everything to be perfect, I have to keep my eyes focused on what really matters, and let go of trying to be too much in control. It’s a good lesson for my soul. I’m so glad we planned a soft opening so that we have more time to work out the kinks and not be running ninety to nothing from the start. We’ll be super-busy before long!
None of this would have been possible without the great people who have helped me. My staff is incredible. Truly they are the greatest asset of my practice, and I can’t imagine doing this without them. But even more than my amazing staff, my family has been so ultra-supportive. My husband has not waivered one bit in helping me and boosting me, even when I faltered and had a brief moment of buyer’s remorse or when I get impatient when he is trying to advise me on something. He has brought his expertise as an entrepreneur to help me with my new venture. And my two children- wow. They are my biggest cheerleaders. I don’t want to forget my parents and sister and friends as well! They are pushing me along the way with encouraging words and prayers. I am so so blessed.
So…the chairs and signs arrived at the very last moment. We have all the essentials in place. Staff are ready. The electronic medical record has been painstakingly customized by my physician assistant. The billing systems are in place. We have a working water cooler! We borrowed speculums from our colleagues since ours didn’t come in (thank goodness for friends!). It’s all good.
Tomorrow morning at 8:00 we will have the ribbon-cutting and then start the actual business of seeing patients, ready or not! At this point, I can only pray that God will bless this practice, as I use the gifts, talents and passion that He has given me to bless the people that walk through our door. Tomorrow starts the next chapter of my life!