Once you get established as a private practice owner, the next important step is building your practice. You may be thinking, oh no! How can I possibly grow my practice? It may sound intimidating but keep on reading for tips to help give you the confidence to build your private practice. If you haven’t already, check out our first two steps of this series, Step 1: Realize Your Potential and Step 2: Excel in One Area of Dietetics.
Step 3: Build Your Private Practice
There are many ways to build a private practice, this blog will focus on attracting and retaining Registered Dietitians for your practice. It’s never too early to think about adding a dietitian to your team.
Why Hire an Employee?
If you love what you do and you are good at counseling, you will soon find that you don’t have enough hours in your day to get everything done as both a nutrition therapist and a business owner. In addition, you certainly do not have enough time to see all the clients who want to see you as your schedule gets full. Some dietitians choose to have a waiting list while others decide to add a dietitian to their team.
When is it Time to Hire your First Employee?
If you are getting too many referrals/clients or if you are being contacted by clients outside of your niche, it may be time to hire another Registered Dietitian. For example, if you work primarily with people with diabetes and an oncologist starts asking you to see clients, you might consider hiring a dietitian with a passion to help clients going through chemo and radiation therapy.
To help you decide if you are ready to hire, start to think about the pros and cons of hiring a Registered Dietitian. Read below to see what are some of the benefits and challenges to consider. For a more comprehensive list, make sure to read our Welcome to the Rebelution: Seven steps to creating the private practice of your dreams book.
Benefits of Hiring a Registered Dietitian:
- Build community among dietitians (being solo in private practice can be lonely)
- An office of energized people to collaborate and problem-solve
- The ability to discuss case studies to get more ideas
Challenges of Hiring a Registered Dietitian:
- Making sure that your new hire is in sync with your values and mission statement of your practice
- The short term costs of having your employee build their caseload (it will take some time)
- Making sure you are aware of many of the “hidden” costs of employees. For a complete list, refer to page 37 of our book.
Additional Considerations before Hiring a Registered Dietitian to Build Your Private Practice:
There are so many things to consider when hiring a dietitian. Here are some of my favorite tips:
- Make sure your dietitian is a good fit
- Working as an outpatient dietitian requires flexibility
- Being able to multi-task is essential for an outpatient dietitian
Mistakes to Avoid when Hiring a Registered Dietitian
- Hiring when you are stressed
- Forgetting to have a non-disclosure or non-compete in place
- Bringing someone in as an independent contractor who should have been hired as an employee (more on this below)
Build Your Private Practice: Professional Tip about Employee vs Independent Contractor
You may be tempted to utilize part-timers as independent contractors instead of hiring employees because it is easier and less expensive but you must meet the strict criteria of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or severe penalties will occur. Based on our experience, it is nearly impossible to hire a dietitian as an independent contractor in a private practice setting.
If you are:
- monitoring their work
- assigning their schedule
- providing business cards
- providing office equipment (computer, etc)
The IRS considers them employees, these are just a few examples of the criteria. The dietitian must also have his/her own business and also provide work to other businesses in order to be an independent contractor.
This is serious business. Make sure to discuss the specifics of your situation with an attorney to make sure you and your business are protected.
“How do I Pay Registered Dietitians?”
This is a great question. Dietitians often ask about the correct way to pay employees. There are many different ways to figure out how to best compensate your employees. One way is to get an idea of what the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) compensation study on their website recommends. You will want to make sure that you plug in all the criteria based on your dietitian’s education and experience. You will also want to select “outpatient dietitian” as the position and not private practice dietitian since your employee will be providing the services of an outpatient dietitian.
Next, you can decide on benefits for your employee. There are many ways to attract and maintain excellent employees and one way is making sure that you have an attractive compensation package including health insurance, paid time off, sick and safe leave, continuing education, retirement plans, and more. Don’t forget the idea of bonuses. You may want to hire a business coach at this point to help you think through the logistics of making a decision that is win-win for everyone. Klara Knezevic, RDN, LDN, CLT and I can certainly help you at this stage, you will be glad that you got help before you make a mistake that you cannot undo.
Private Practice Dietitian Blogs
If you still haven’t checked ou our blogs about Step 1 and Step 2, check them out below for more inspiration!
What are your next steps? If you have not read our book, make sure to order it here.
If you have already read our book, I would recommend that you contact us for more information to see how we can help you create the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams. Start by filling out this contact form and checking out our blog on private practices.
Klara and I are here to help you attract and retain amazing dietitian employees, contact us here!
Rebecca Bitzer loves to empower Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and their clients. Co-author of Welcome to the Rebelution: Seven steps to the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams and Taste the Sweet Rebellion: Rebel against dieting.