When I tell people that I’m a new graduate starting a new practice, I get responses ranging from abject horror to unadulterated excitement and support. I understand the former response; practice ownership and being a solo practitioner were definitely was not in my plan for my first three months out of school. First three years, if I was lucky.
But I’m not a dummy. I’ve put a ton of research, a ton of thought, and ton of advice-asking into it. And I think it will work for a few simple reasons:
1. I have reasonable expectations. I fully expect the first 6-12 months to be very difficult, from me learning how to be a vet, a practice owner, a financial manager, etc. I know the learning curve is a vertical line. I don’t expect that business will be booming and money will be free-flowing right off the bat. I fully expect to have to work my ass off. If I’m slightly wrong about any of these things, then that will be great. If I’m right, that will be okay too.
2. My cost of living is extremely low. If I don’t get to bring home a paycheck for six months, maybe even longer, it will be okay. This is because I live in Iowa, I qualify for income-based repayment plans on my school loans, and I have a husband with a reliable income and a total willingness to help me make this work. We rent our home cheaply, our cars are paid off, I have pet food stockpiled from the days I got it for free during vet school, and we generally aren’t very extravagant about life.
3. The situation that I have entered into is quite unique, and is letting me start a business with the purchase of real estate for a relatively very low sum. I have kept my opening expenses as low as reasonably possible: I gave up plans to build an extra exam room, equipment that isn’t essential to practicing good medicine is going on my “list of things to buy when you turn a profit”, and I cut corners wherever reasonable. (not reasonable: good monitoring equipment, good insurance, practice management software).
4. My bank and the town believe in me. Even with low start-up expenses, the bank really bent over backwards to set up my loans. In addition to the bank, I procured two lower-interest loans from local economic development groups that were basically unsecured. The support has been fantastic.
These are the things I keep in mind when I start to feel overwhelmed. I really hope I’m right.