I’ve touched on before some of the more important lessons I learned in starting my own private practice. And I’ve been fortunate enough that my practice became successful enough that I had the option of adding more counselors.
Adding more clinicians can seem like a huge hurdle for any practice owner to jump over, and making that big step forward definitely brought with it new lessons for me that I’m happy to share:
What kind of boss do you want to be?
One of the first things I needed to decide on was what kind of boss I envisioned myself becoming. I decided that at that point in my life, I was probably going to have many obligations outside of my practice, and thus might not be quite as hands-on as maybe other bosses might be. Therefore I decided that I needed counselors who seemed like they could be self-sufficient. Ones that might demonstrate an ability to be independent were a priority for me.
These seemed like characteristics that would be helpful if I wasn’t always available in the future to help train on a frequent basis. I decided that I didn’t have much interest in being too strict of a boss, having a lot of control, telling people when they could or couldn’t take off for vacations.
I wasn’t ruling out never being more hands on in the future; never having a desire to train and help shape our future young counselors of tomorrow, it just didn’t seem like a good fit for me in my short term future.
Do you want to have 1099 or W2 workers?
One you have an idea on what kind of boss you want to be, your next thought should be what classification of workers do you want to have. The strictness of labor laws can vary state by state (so as Joe says, contact a professional! I did!), but assuming either choice is an equally available option for you, decide which type of worker fits with what kind of boss you want to be. Because I didn’t have much of an interest in telling my workers when they can take off vacations, or how they do their job, or what they need to wear, going with 1099 contract workers was a good fit for me.
If I felt like I needed more control over my workers, then the opposite would be more of a better fit, and I’d go with having employees.
What holes are you looking to fill?
If you are hiring someone, you are probably doing so because you recognize there may be certain holes in your practice. Maybe you feel like a certain timing or availability is a priority. If you are receiving inquiries for specific times when you are unavailable, such as nights or weekends, you may feel that potential hires that can fill those time slots would be the best candidates over other availability times.
A question of which niche you are looking to hire for is also something to consider. Are you looking to fill those times with someone who serves a completely different niche from you? Or are you looking for someone who serves the same niche, since after all, that is likely the niche that you have been marketing to. You can make an argument for going with either approach.
Interviewing still requires work
I can remember the nervousness that comes with trying to prepare for an interview for a job that you are applying to. Unfortunately, as an interviewer, you still need to put in work preparing for an interview. Over the years I’ve put in a lot of thought compiling potential questions to ask that I feel helps shine the light on strong candidates.
One lesson that I’ve learned with interviewing is about the avalanche of resumes from qualified candidates that flow in after you have posted a job listing. It can be maddening to try to whittle down the list to something manageable. One hard fast rule I’ve had to implement with myself is to rule out potential job seekers who have misspellings, or fail to follow basic instructions in the job posting. It can be disappointing ruling some candidates out, but it’s just too hard to screen otherwise, because so many people are more than qualified.
You need the right paperwork
Once you’ve found your best candidate and you’re super excited to hire them, your next thought is likely going to be what mine was: what am I going to do about creating a contract for this person. You are going to need a contract so that the terms are clear as day on what is expected from you and from your new hire. I wasn’t excited about hiring a lawyer to construct from scratch a contract for my future 1099 contractor, so I went with Joe’s Private Practice paperwork packet that he has available. I made a few changes to make it applicable to my practice, and it was a great relief to feel protected.
If you are hiring an employee, you’ll still need the right paperwork but Joe’s independent contractor contract isn’t going to be applicable (so once again you want to consult a professional). I know in my state, getting a completed W-4, L-4 and I-9 would be at the top of my list of required documents when hiring an employee.
Priscilla Hurd is a LPC and the owner of Magnolia Family Counseling, a Metairie counseling practice in Lousiana. She specializes in helping couples get their relationship back on track. When she is not working with couples, she enjoys spending time with family and rooting for the New Orleans Saints (who were robbed in the 2019 NFC Championship Game).