Becoming an Independent Physician: How to Overcome Fears to Start a Direct Care Practice

Discover our 5-point checklist designed to help physicians start now.

We have just attended the DPC Nuts & Bolts conference and were happily surprised by the number of people, whether still in residency or after many years of being employed, who are considering becoming independent physicians and making the transition to the Direct Care Model

This indicates a trend for Direct Care growth across various specialties: primary care, pediatrics, endocrinology, podiatry, rheumatology, dermatology, etc. This means more patients have the potential to be impacted by this model, receiving better care. 

But as with any change, we heard many questions from physicians and listened to genuine testimonials about the fears they have, which is completely natural. This post brings a checklist with 5 task points that can help you overcome this.

Navigating the Journey to Independent Practice and Facing Fears Head-On 

As an independent physician, you will operate your practice outside of the direct influence or control of larger healthcare institutions, such as hospitals or health system conglomerates. This model allows for more autonomy over your practice, including decision-making about patient care, office procedures, hiring staff, and financial management. 

You may choose to run solo practices or be part of smaller group practices where collaboration with other clinicians is encouraged. Here are 5 key pieces of advice that can help you embrace this new journey.

1. Stop Waiting for the Day You Feel 100% Confident 

In the world of entrepreneurship, waiting until you feel fully prepared might mean you’ve waited too long. The journey into Direct Care is one of continuous learning and adaptation. Instead of waiting for complete confidence, focus on the willingness to start, learn, and grow.

Fear and uncertainty are natural when contemplating a significant change. The key is to recognize these feelings but not let them paralyze you. Emotional readiness involves cultivating resilience, openness to learning, and the courage to step out of your comfort zone. Support from family, friends, colleagues, and associations can also provide a strong foundation during this transition. 

“The way to overcome any hesitations about starting a Direct Care practice is simply by doing it. Who is stopping you? You know, as a physician, you have choices. You have the option to practice the way you want.”Dr. Grace Torres HodgesPodiatry

Additional Resource: 

DPC Support: Nurturing a Thriving Community to grow together

2. Be Prepared to Wear Different Hats

Transitioning to Direct Care means expanding your skill set beyond clinical care. Understanding the basics of business, finance, marketing, and legal aspects becomes crucial. 

This might seem daunting at first, but it’s an opportunity to grow and bring your vision of healthcare to life.

Additional Resources: 

How to Start a Direct Care Practice

The Must-Read DPC Books to Set Up a Practice

3. Build a Financial Foundation for the Move

Financial readiness is crucial when starting your Direct Care practice. This preparation involves more than just having the startup capital; it means understanding the financial model of Direct Care, setting realistic financial goals, and planning for a sustainable business. 

It may also require personal financial planning to ensure you can manage during the initial phase before your practice becomes profitable.

Additional Resource:

Financial Planning When Starting a New Practice

4. Make at Least Three 1:1s with Other Physicians Who Have Followed the Same Path

Learning from those who’ve already embarked on this journey is invaluable. Aim to have one-on-one conversations with at least 3 physicians who have successfully transitioned to Direct Care. 

Inquire about their challenges, what they wish they had known, and what strategies they found most effective. This peer advice can be both inspiring and grounding, providing practical insights and moral support. You're not alone. 

Additional Resource: 

Physicians in Direct Care to Watch: Specialists Leading the Change

5. Attend at Least One Medical Conference This Year

Conferences are not just for staying updated with the latest in medical research; they're also an excellent way to network with peers, learn from experts in Direct Care, and get inspired. 

Attending a conference can provide new ideas, strategies, and the motivation to push forward with your plans. It’s also a reminder that you’re part of a broader community of healthcare professionals all striving to improve patient care.

Additional Resource: 

Top Medical Conferences of 2024: The 7 Key Events in Direct Care

Embracing the role of an independent physician means more than just overcoming fears; it's about stepping into a space where you can practice medicine on your terms, build deeper connections with your patients, and contribute to a healthcare model that prioritizes care over volume. 

The journey might seem daunting at first, but with each step, you'll find yourself more capable, more confident, and more connected to the reasons you chose to practice medicine in the first place.

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