Many of us are waiting on various reviews and Royal Commissions to know what our private practice landscape might look like in the next 5 years. Issues on the minds of private psychologists include:
- What is a sustainable practice model?
- For practice directors: Why is it so hard to recruit?
- For contractors/employees: Has this practice the right culture, supports and fee earning structure for me?
Many psychologists tell me that they want flexibility and autonomy but how is this possible when operating a solo practitioner practice these days particularly if you are early career, have a family or other personal commitment and find compliance and administration take up your spare time.
Employee/contractor psychologists are wary of contracting models and question what they are receiving in exchange for handing over a percentage of their fees. Supervision and administrative support are often not particularly valued. After at least 6 years of training to become a registered psychologist with the accompanying HECS debt, many feel that they can operate a no-frills practice with a laptop, a practice management database, a mobile phone and an office in a GP practice. And so, they can. But what is the future going to look like? Group practice directors feel used and abused by psychologists who don’t value what they are offering for a percentage of the contractor’s fees. These directors should be the mentors and coaches of their staff but can be early career themselves and lack the clinical experience to offer such services and are busy trying to operate the day-to-day of their business.
We live in a time of uncertainty despite the recognition of the value of mental health services by the community and government. If you think there has been a lot of change in the last 5-10 years, then strap yourself in for an even faster pace in the next 5 years.
We need leaders who understand these dilemmas and who are acknowledged by our profession and government as being able to speak knowledgeably and sensibly on our behalf. We need mentors and coaches who can help the profession adjust and accommodate the rapid growth in private psychology practice. Have you got the right advisory team around you?