Is ‘Peer-Fear’ holding your Private Practice back?

If you’re working in Private Practice, are you worried about what your peers might think?

Do you sense that you’re scuppering your Private Practice growth by ‘playing small’?

Are you stalling on getting that website up, or not showing up on social media because you’re worried about backlash from your colleagues?

Well, you’re not alone in thinking like that. It turns out that ‘holding back because of your peers’ is ridiculously common in Private Practice.

I’ve been coaching Clinicians how to grow their practices for years, and what’s interesting is, every Clinician at some point falls prey to this way of thinking.

I can teach them all about the best ways to market their practice, and they can get proficient at vlogging and blogging etc, but it truly takes a mindset shift to get over worrying about your peers.

So if you’re worried about what your peers might be thinking, how do you get over it?

First, let’s look at how you might be self-sabotaging your Private Practice, and what the cost of that might be. Literally. For every month that goes by without you actively and openly promoting your Private Practice, you’re missing out attracting patients to your clinic. Think about the revenue the average patient will bring you, whilst you’re helping them to get better. It will likely be a few hundred quid – am I right?'

Then think about your clinic diary. If there are empty patient slots there, add up what NOT having those slots filled is doing to your bank balance, and your ability to pay the mortage/the school fees/ all the regalia for your lock-down puppy?

Multiply that up over the course of five years, and see what that number then looks like.

If you’re still not convinced, let me give you an example. My typical patient appointment, which is 30 mins, brings in an average of £150. Let’s imagine I work part time in Private Practice. If I’m failing to get (just) six patients into clinic per week, that’s £900 per week. If I work 44 weeks per year, we’re talking £39,600. Over five years, that’s a whopping £198,000 left on the table.

Playing small is toxic to your bank balance, and it also leaves you with all those security doubts. You might never end up reducing your NHS hours (so you can spend more time with your kids), because you’re eternally worried about financial security. And the root cause is so-often playing small.

tip #1: Your fears are less founded than you think.

One of our bigger fears is that a resentful colleague might actively undermine us. This can take place in different arenas (e.g. within your NHS post) but don’t let that experience infect your Private Practice experience. You deserve a seat at the table, as does everyone.

The problem can feel bigger if you’re coming in to work in a landscape of ‘old-timers’.

You might be thinking one of these three things:

They’re really not going to like me for opening up a Private Practice on their patch.

He/She used to be my boss, and I want to keep it ‘under the radar’.

How can I compete with someone who’s been around for years and is known for being the go-to person in my specialty? Who am I to come in touting my trade?

The reality is, we’re likely to overestimate what our peers think, and interestingly, some of our less talented peers may grossly overestimate their clinical prowess. There’s an interesting psychological phenomenon called the ‘Dunning Kruger Effect’ which is a cognitive bias that leads a person to believe that (despite their poor abilities) they are the most competent amongst their peers. You may have met this kind of person if you can recall how they were very resistant to getting feedback about a clinical competence or their behaviour.

We’re often guilty of putting our colleagues onto pedestals, and this can lead to doing ourselves a disservice.

One of our Private Practice Ninja Academy members (who is a brilliant Clinician) recently revealed that he he’d let his former boss put the brakes on his Private Practice for 10 years until he freed himself from someone else’s mandate.

Those pedestal people will have had their own people on pedestals when they started out. This is your Private Practice journey, and you’re totally entitled to it. Stop waiting for permission that you don’t need.

And besides…most people are far too busy thinking about what they are doing to even notice what you’re doing!

tip #2: Keep in mind how you help your patients.

If you’re finding it hard to get over yourself about the ‘peer’ thing, remember why you got into the clinical world in the first place, namely to help patients. One the really wonderful things about Private Practice is you can finally get to look after your patients in the way you really want to.

I remember leaving the NHS over sixteen years ago, because I simply couldn’t do my job properly as a sports physician. Having to wait twelve weeks for an MRI to confirm you have a femoral neck stress fracture is no good when you’re due to run the London Marathon in eleven days.

The moral of this story? Your peers aren’t going to be your regular referrers.

Make it ALL about your patients (and their potential referrers). All of your online presence, your social media, your blogs and vlogs should be for THEM.

tip #3:  Change your language.

Part of the shift you need to make is speaking the patient’s language online. Our academic clinical lives have conditioned us to speak and write in certain way. If you’ve ever published research, you’ll know just how absurd the complexity of citations and referencing can get.

Many Clinicians make the mistake of posting the wrong kind of material online. The write their posts for their clinical community using terms like ‘joint congruity’ and ‘clinical contra-indications’. Our patients don’t speak like that, and neither should you if you want to attract them.

Write in the patient’s language, and make it FOR the patient. Writing for your peers invites a bun-fight about who has the most valid opinion, and it fails to meet the objective – helping patients to find you.

If you’re worried that your peers might think your language is ‘dumbed down’, then you’re actually getting it right. It’s not about THEM. It’s about your PATIENTS.

Patients aren’t impressed by reading that you were invited to be one of 24 international experts from 16 countries to participate in a consensus meeting on terminology of groin pain. They want to know that you understand what they are going through, and that you’re a skilled, friendly human being who can help them.

And finally, it really helps to find your tribe of supportive, like-minded colleagues, who’ll help lift you up, and encourage you in your Private Practice journey.

If you’re looking for your tribe, why not consider joining the Private Practice Ninja Academy?

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