Happy 1 1/2 year anniversary!
I opened Birch Tree Naturopathic a year and a half ago hoping to finally realize my dream of having a small private practice of my own, hanging my shingle out as I had imagined when I first started Bastyr University in 1998. I had a small private practice for a short time immediately after finishing my residency but really lacked the experience and know-how to run my own business, and jumped at the chance to be an employee at a larger clinic when the opportunity came up. I worked at that medium-sized clinic for 8 years, but after I had my daughter I found that their business model no longer worked well for me (there was a lot of regional travel involved and all that driving was quite stressful). I left that clinic to work at an even larger clinic where I ended up working as Medical Director before the clinic closed for financial reasons. In both those clinics I was lucky to be mentored by pioneers in the field of Naturopathic Medicine and feel very fortunate to have been trained by some of the best.
When that clinic closed abruptly, several circumstances came together at once that enabled me to open Birch Tree. First, I found the location just blocks from my home. Second, the overhead was relatively low, partly because I only leased my space 3 days per week. Having watched another clinic suffer financially from excess overhead I knew that I needed to keep rent and expenses low to get my clinic off the ground. Third, because my prior workplace had closed I had a group of patients who would be able follow me to my new practice. And lastly, I had the opportunity to observe what did and didn’t work in running a business and was able to apply that experience to my new practice.
Because I’m committed to keeping my overhead low, I’ve chosen not to even consider hiring any staff or assistants at this time, other than an insurance biller. Eventually, my hope is to be able to hire an off-site reception service, and/or a part time Medical Assistant. For now though, I answer my own phones and emails, and do all the other administrative work required to keep my business going. The good thing about this is that you, my patient, will find that there is no administrative “wall” between us. I’ll answer your call, return your message, or reply to your email myself. And, I will get to know you and your medical needs personally as we work together. I anticipate (and hope!) that eventually I will get too busy enough that I’ll have to hire an assistant. I guess the downside of my DIY practice is that I occasionally get overloaded with calls and messages and have to prioritize who I’m going to answer first - I hope you’ll be patient with this process!
I recently read an article in the New York Times about how small medical practices are rapidly disappearing as they get gobbled up by larger and larger corporations (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/07/health/health-care-mergers-doctors.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fhealth&action=click&contentCollection=health®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=225&pgtype=sectionfront). Though these practices can be very efficient (think Polyclinic or Swedish outpatient clinics) you certainly lose the personal touch. I am really pleased to celebrate being open for a year and a half, and I’m committed to sticking to my vision of a small private practice with personalized service, backed by 15 years of experience in my field working with amazing mentors who generously passed their knowledge along to me. I promise you won’t get any “cookie cutter” treatment from me - each person is an individual, with individual needs and goals and I’m committed to helping you find your path to optimal health and wellness.