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{Sigh} 2020 is the actual worst. We all know this. I don’t need to list the reasons why, but one of them is that I have been laid off (again!) Never in my wildest thoughts did I think that I, as a physical therapist, would be laid off twice in the span of 8 months. But, covid19.

After reaching out to employers, doing the job searches, joining the job community fairs (virtually, of course), and collecting the unemployment, it became apparent that I was not getting hired any time soon this time around. There simply haven’t been jobs out there for a PT in my region. Unemployment has worked out for our family, and we’ve been able to stay afloat with the added funds from the CARES act, but the clock was running on that.

I am known for loudly and emphatically saying that I would NEVER want to own my own PT clinic. My husband suggested I think about it years ago, and I firmly said no thank you, sir. Who would want the stress of dealing with insurance, billing, and marketing when I could just show up to work every morning, treat my patients, type up my notes, and go home? But with the lack of job options on the horizon, and the need (and desire) to work still very much present, my mind started to go there.

About 5 years ago, I had taken a continuing education class on Chronic Pain. It was heavily based in the latest neuroscience, and argued that we as a society and a medical community still have a poor understanding of pain. Tissue damage does not equal pain, but most people, medical professionals included, tend to still think and act that way. It was a mind-blowing course, I geeked out all weekend, took a ton of notes, and felt that we were really missing the point the way we were currently treating people for chronic pain. But I went back to work and didn’t know what to do with it, since the approach the class argued we should take would look very different from traditional PT. Much less hands-on manual work, and much more talking, teaching, and getting to the roots of the problem.

Fast forward to getting laid off this past March, seeing that there weren’t going to be job options for a long time, and starting to think out of the box. What if I could open my own clinic, focused on a different approach to treating chronic pain? I could dive in deep and really mix it up, tackling this complex, complicated issue from a more holistic approach. Running my own clinic, I could allow things to look different from traditional PT.

I started looking into it. First I looked to see if anyone else in Spokane was doing this. I stumbled across a few other wellness groups. One clinic is run by an ARNP who has become a friend and mentor, and who strongly encouraged me to go for it and open my own place. So I reached out to former co-workers, gals who handled the insurance side of things. And the strong message I got from them was DON’T DO IT. Don’t work with insurance, it’ll be too much for you to handle by yourself, you’d need to hire someone right away to manage it all. You’ll be on hold for 45-minutes for every patient, calling all of their individual plans to verify benefits only to get obtuse, confusing answers, and end up seeing them without dotting some i or crossing some t that will mean you won’t get paid for the work you already did.

Ok. Yikes.

A friend from PT school sent me info on cash-based PT, with articles, blogs and resources to go out-of-network. This looked more promising. I could see patients and bill them directly, get paid upfront, and the patients could send in my bill to be reimbursed via their out-of-network benefits. There are successful PT clinics doing this around the country, in big cities and rural towns.

My next Google search pulled up the other cash-based PT clinics in the area. There were 2. I knew the woman, a former co-worker, running one of them, who reiterated that I should not work with insurance if I wanted to run my own place. I reached out to the other cash-based PT owner, who immediately offered to mentor me, answered ALL the questions I blitzed her way while she was on vacation, no less, and set up a video chat for when she returned from vacation.

Ok. I’m doing this.

Things start coming together. I reach out to a woman who runs her own acupuncture clinic that I had frequented as a patient, and she is happy to let me share space with her and work on the days she isn’t there. She is super chill and doesn’t mind if I share her furniture and treatment table, or hang posters in “her” room of the last 10 years. Her landlord immediately agrees to let me sublease, and she herself is an ARNP who used to run a wellness clinic out of the building and is really excited about what I’m trying to do.

Website made, business license acquired, business bank account opened, malpractice insurance secured, documentation system figured out, marketing begun.

I set a Grand Opening date for the first week of August. Now it looks like I own, run, manage and treat in my own PT clinic! Wahoo! NONE of this would have been remotely possible without the help of an army of people. The whole “self-made man” is such a myth. I guarantee you that any successful anyone did not get there without the help of others. I am so grateful to have friends, coworkers, mentors and a supportive spouse to have helped make this a reality. And I’m grateful to The Octonauts for entertaining my daughter while my son napped so I could get any work done during the day.

Earlier this year, my daughter and I attempted to grow an avocado tree from the seed of an avocado we had eaten, a regular, non-organic grocery store avocado. I do not possess a green thumb, so my hopes were not high. And shockingly, it worked! The seed cracked open, a sweet little root started working its way out, the crack split the seed from top to bottom, the tentative stem started to reach for the sky, and as of today, it has 3 leaves!! I’ve taken it as an omen. That little seed that I did not think would do anything has turned into a tree. And my little clinic, which I opened out of desperation, a lack of options, and a prayer, will hopefully Flourish into something strong and nourishing and beautiful.

(I would be remiss not to ask you to check me out if you live in the Spokane area and have any PT needs! 😉


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