How to open a doctor’s office

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Having your own doctor’s office or medical practice can represent your freedom in order to be your own boss and to choose your own patients. If you think about opening your own practice, you will have to be organized and you must have a plan. You will also have to be a licensed doctor and have completed all the necessary training in your profession.

Start your university studies. Before going to a medical school, most places in the world will require you to complete a college degree. Some medical schools have prerequisite courses that you must complete as part of your university studies. These usually include basic science courses such as Chemistry and Biology, as well as some possible courses on physiology and human anatomy. The objective of the prerequisite courses is to prepare you for the type of material you will study in medical school.

  • However, some medical schools are more flexible and will accept fewer prerequisite courses. Verify what they ask you in the medical school that interests you.

Go to medical school. Once you have completed the prerequisite courses and university studies, apply to the medical schools that interest you. Your best bet will be to apply to several different schools since entering one can be highly competitive.

  • Medicine schools normally last four years in total. The study requirements are very intensive, therefore, prepare yourself for a heavy work load.
  • You will have to be prepared to dedicate most of your life to school during these years. It will be necessary to prioritize meticulously relationships, hobbies and passions to balance the work required in order to complete medical school. Consider if you are prepared to make this type of sacrifice.

Decide your medical specialty. Once you complete medical school, you will have to decide if you want to be a general practitioner (general practitioner) or continue your studies in order to be a specialist doctor (for example, a psychiatrist, emergency doctor, internal medicine, surgeon, among other specialties). It will usually take you about two years of postgraduate studies to obtain a license as a general practitioner and almost five years or more of postgraduate studies to be a medical specialist.

  • When choosing the field, you want, keep in mind the lifestyle of the specialty that you consider as well as the availability of work in your area.

Complete your residence and medical internship. Once you have chosen your desired field of study, you will have to apply for a medical residency or boarding school. The requirements will depend on where you choose to practice. This stage of your training is paid and usually involves extensive work in a hospital where you will go through several areas; however, you will focus on your areas of interest. It usually lasts two to five years before you become a licensed or specialist doctor.

Find resources appropriate to the type of practice you want to perform. The different organizations of the medical society have available resources for members who wish to establish their own practices. These resources can include templates for documentation, legal documents and planning tools. Research your specialty in the medical society in order to find resources that facilitate the establishment of your practice.

  • For example, the American Academy of Family Physicians resources for primary care. This can help you establish your independent insurance practice.
  • You can consult the resources on the website of the American Medical Association (AMA) at the following address:

Choose the place of your office. It is important to consider factors such as travel time, as well as the patient population targeted by your specific area. For example, some places are more likely to attract elderly patients, some are more likely to be homeless or recovering addicts, while others are more likely to attract families with young children. If patient demographics are important to you, consider the impact that the place could have on this point.

  • At the beginning when you open your office consider also rent a space instead of buying it. In this way you can try and make sure you like the place before making long-term commitments.
  • Think of factors such as temperature regulation (can you adjust the heat or air conditioning?), The aesthetics of the space and the general feeling of the office. You will spend a lot of your life in the office, therefore, it is worth the investment in order to find a place that you like, as well as your staff and patients.
  • Consider also the marketing aspect of the place. Is it easy for people to arrive? Is it in a populated area? Can people park their cars easily?

Get some license or permit you need in order to have your own doctor’s office. Consultation with the local Health Department in order to determine some documents that may be necessary. You probably must do it as soon as possible, just in case you must wait for the documents to be processed.

Buy medical equipment, computers and other supplies. You will need funds in order to pay other initial costs; for example, some medical equipment. You will also need a computer program and system in order to keep all the records and files of the patients. Computer systems will make it easier for you to take notes. Each doctor or doctor in your office can upload the notes directly in the system and everyone will have access to the patient’s medical and medication history.

  • If you choose not to use a digital computer system, you will have to make sure there is enough space in your office for the cabinets and files where you will place the documents.
  • You may have to request a loan to cover the initial costs of your business, as well as the costs of medical equipment. Trust that the investment you make in your own office will reward you over time.

Get an insurance approval. You will need insurance to protect you from anything that may happen to your patients. You must obtain credentials with at least one major insurance company. Make sure that the malpractice insurance covers you completely.

Find patients. If you have regular patients from a previous office, you may be able to take them. If you start from scratch, talk to other doctors about strategies to publicize and get patients. Another option is to buy a doctor’s office that retires and take care of all the patients that that other doctor took care of previously.

Hire other employees. At a minimum you will have to hire a receptionist and an accountant, and, in addition, you will have to find employees that work well with others and with you. It is also important that you understand the hiring and firing rules of your area and you will have to follow the appropriate protocol when selecting employees for your company.

Decide whether you would like to associate with other doctors or not. If you associate, you will need the help of a lawyer in order to establish a comprehensive office agreement. Even if you want to work on your own as a chief doctor, you may consider a team agreement for all your clinic employees, describing objectives and expectations of how the practice works. Formalizing your employment relationship with other doctors or with your clinic staff can help you ensure that the company works in the best way possible once you start.

Establish clear lines and job expectations for your employees. This will increase the chances of success with your coworkers and will also decrease the hidden costs that are related to staff turnover. You will also have to find ways to control your staff, evaluate performance and provide feedback on a regular basis. This will help them feel appreciated and guided as to what they expect. It will also increase efficiency and effectiveness in the way your company will operate, all of which will be important for long-term success.

Establishes a process to inform the costs of services to patients. It is important that you let your patients know what a prepaid health care plan covers and does not cover and how it is done to bill them for services that the plan does not cover (or how to get a third party to pay in case they pay). There is the option). Take your time to familiarize yourself with the way in which the billing process is applied to your patients and be frontal about all the costs that will come out of their pocket. Communication and clear disclosure of costs is important.

Talk to an accountant about taxes. You will have to know how much money to separate and when the payment of taxes is due (for example, you may pay quarterly taxes) and the differences between the tax return for the owner of a company and for an employee of a company. There will be many things that you can discard as the owner of a company, therefore, you must keep in a folder the receipts related to it. It is recommended to use a separate bank account and a credit card for the income and expenses of the company.

Consult with your financial advisor in order to implement a long-term plan. It is important to consider your long-term financial goals and properly plan retirement at an age at which you will close your practice and an idea of ​​the money you will need to maintain your lifestyle. Planning your financial goals in general will help you stay on track when you start your own medical office.


Make sure you understand the confidentiality requirements of patients. Learn about the Health Information Act or other privacy protection regulations that apply in your area. Talk to a lawyer who has experience with health professionals to obtain assistance in this area. Privacy and confidentiality are important in a doctor’s office.

Have your staff sign privacy and confidentiality documents. Again: this can be done with the help of a lawyer who has experience in medical offices and health care. You will have to make everyone on your team familiar with the privacy requirements, including information disclosure standards and patient consent processes regarding various procedures.

Use electronic medical records. While doctors’ offices used to work with files for documents, the new way of doing things is through electronic medical records on a computer. This will ensure faster access to patient files, as well as more extensive information that you can quickly search on a computer and, in addition, easy access to patient files elsewhere (such as in hospitals) if necessary. In summary, electronic medical records represent a more efficient and effective way to store patient information.


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