My RD Journey

From Undergrad -> Internship -> RD -> Private Practice!


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Preparing Yourself for Full-Time Private Practice

This post was originally going to be a recap of where I am in my practice; however, I got to talking to another Dietitian, who was in a similar position to me before I left my full-time job, and realized that some of the things I was telling her I had wished someone would have told me. So, alas, this post is all about figuring out if you are ready to make that leap from full-time employee to a self-employed business owner and how to prepare yourself for it.

Signs it is Time to Quit
There are a ton of articles out there about when you know it is time to quit your job. This could mean you get another full-time gig or go out on your own. From my experience and hearing from other RDs, here are a few of the signs that it may be time to quit your job: no current advancement available, overqualified for your position, lack of autonomy, dreading work, feeling stressed/anxious about work on a daily basis, and having your overall health suffer (limited sleep, poor food habits, etc). For my situation, in addition to the latter, I also knew that I was at the point that I could not grow my practice without leaving my full-time job.

Emotional Preparedness
If you have ever seriously thought about becoming a business-owner, you will go through a lot of different emotions. I would spend hours agonizing over my decision and second guessing myself. Was I going to be able to do this? Would I let everyone down? What if I failed? While you may always have ups and downs with your business, I would highly suggest working through your emotions in a productive way. Figure out your fears (check out my blog on tackling fears), create a plan, and find support (family, online groups, fellow entrepreneurs, etc). It will really help in the long-run when you are feeling discouraged or overwhelmed.

Financial Preparedness
Be prepared for the fact that you may not make the same level of income as you did in a full-time job. It may take 1-month or even a year to reach your financial goals. Everyone is in a different financial situation so the key here is to figure out what your comfort level is in terms of finances so you know the best time for YOU to make the leap towards becoming self-employed. One of the biggest things for me was knowing that I had built up a savings my whole life (thanks to my Dad) and I continued saving even more so during my last few months of working a full-time job. It also really helped to map out all of my financial obligations (rent, food, health insurance, etc) and determine how much I needed to make to either break-even or be able to save.

Practice Preparedness
I used to hear from some of my friends and family to just quit my job and pursue my private practice. They had such faith in me and knew how hard I worked at everything I did. Despite their encouragement, it still took me months to commit to leaving my job and becoming a sole proprietor. One thing I learned is that you have to do it on your own terms. Yes, sometimes you are there and just need a little push; however, if you absolutely know you are not ready, they don’t be hasty and leap before you have a landing pad. I felt more comfortable taking the leap when I was already set-up as a provider (which included setting up my NPI, EIN, liability insurance, etc), had billed a few claims (successfully), figured out a method of taking payment (business and merchant accounts), had at least 1 referral source, and had set-up my social media/online presence. I am not saying you need to be totally sound and advanced at everything you do in your practice, because there is so much I learned along the way; however, if you are looking to stand on your own two feet within a month or so of being self-employed, you need to have some kind of base. Lastly, know yourself and your limits before taking the jump. Do you need to work on your organizational skills? Are you one to procrastinate? Know what your strengths are and play on them. Know what your weaknesses are and commit to either working towards strengthening or at least identify so you don’t fall into poor business habits because of it.

One last thing I want to leave you with is that you cannot do everything without having one part of your life suffer. For me, I wasn’t exercising enough and didn’t get to enjoy being with friends or family as much as I had wanted. I was constantly stressed and stretched too thin. Honestly, true success to me now is knowing what my limits are, allowing time buffers in my day, and having the flexibility to balance all aspects of my life.

Are you thinking leaping towards a full-time private practice? Leave a comment and let me know if this post helped you to figure out your next move!

Check out my post on why I decided to make the leap to private practice!


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A Day in the Life of a Private Practice RD

I have been getting asked a lot lately how I structure my day and what does a day looks like for me now that I am full-time. Pretty much no day is ever the same for me since I never know who is going to call for an appointment, what important email comes through, or what last minute change in my schedule needs to happen. I broke down my day into two options: seeing clients/having classes and a “work” day so you can see what it looks like to be me all day long 🙂

A Day With Appointments (My Wednesday)

6:45am – Get ready for the day, eat, make coffee, pack my bag, check emails
8:00am – Head over for a committee meeting that I am Vice-Chair for, send out committee emails
9:30am – Chat with a fellow entrepreneur post meeting
10:00am – Leave to head downtown for my cooking class
10:45am – 1:45pm – Prep, have class, clean-up, chat with staff in the building, etc
2:15pm – Home. Eat lunch, check emails, log class information/expenses.
2:30pm -4:00pm – Make any insurance-related calls before offices close. Call back voicemails (if any). Work on posts for FB & IG. Follow-up with clients for paperwork needed for appointments.
4:00pm – Gym
5:30pm – Make and eat dinner. Usually, I take this time to also clean the kitchen.
7:00pm – Follow-up on emails. Work on committee related minutes/events. Prep for the next day. Sometimes I will have a late-night appointment at 6pm. If so, I will bill and write the reports right after.
8:30pm – Continue working on business-related items (could be accounting, billing, lesson plans, blogs, handouts, etc) or watch Netflix or read a non-business book.
10:00pm – Bed

If there is one thing I have learned while being in private practice it is to not overbook yourself. Even the days where I don’t see clients I try not to overbook. Something always comes up to rock the boat! Going along with this, I have learning to go with the flow a lot more. Appointments change. Classes get rescheduled. Things in life just happen. If I get all stressed out and worked up about something, it just makes my day chaotic and negative. I take things as they happen and simply move on.

A Day Without Appointments (My Monday or Friday)

8:30am – Get ready for the day, make coffee, check emails, make pancakes (because why not), make my to-do list (prioritize)
9:30am – 1:30pm – Followed-up on calls. Booked a new class so I had to submit an invoice + signed contract. Write lessons for the new class. Follow-up on unpaid insurance claims. Follow-up on missing paperwork for upcoming appointments. Chat with another RD about insurance issues. Plan blog and social media posts. Brainstorm ideas for business. Input any paid claims into my accounting software. Usually Fridays I do laundry and vacuum in the midst of all of this.
1:30pm – 2:00pm – Make and eat lunch. Some days, this ends up just being a smoothie for convenience.
2:00pm – 5:30pm – Follow-up on more insurance-related issues. Chat with other RDs about insurance. Send appointment reminders to clients. Prep for appointments/classes for next week. Answer emails. Follow-up on patient calls. Schedule appointments as they come + send initial emails with paperwork. Mondays are my food shopping day normally so I also hit the food store mid-day too.
5:30pm – May go to the gym or if not eat dinner a bit earlier. Usually, prepping dinner involves emptying the dishwasher, putting dishes/groceries away, cleaning, etc, all while cooking.
7:00pm – Follow-up on emails. Work on committee related minutes/events. Prep for the next day.
8:30pm – Continue working on business-related items or watch Netflix or read a non-business book.
10:00pm – Bed

My days where I don’t see clients usually end up being the “busiest” since I push everything office-related off until then. Sometimes, checking my emails takes 2-minutes and other times I end up back and forth about something for 10-minutes. As I mentioned earlier, I never really know how a day is going to go. Some days, I get through everything I needed to and can relax by 3 or 4pm. Other days, I work until 7 or 8pm, eat a late dinner, and pretty much go to bed right after. There are some days that I need a mental break so I will go out for a mid-day walk or watch a show. Again, just going with the flow really helps my sanity and productivity.

If you are in private practice, what does your day look like? Anyone reading this surprised at what I do all day?


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Two-Month Private Practice Anniversary

Today official marks the two-month milestone of quitting my full-time job and jumping into a full-time private practice. If you have read my previous blogs, I recently wrote on finding out what success looked like for me and what direction I wanted to take my practice in. While I am still figuring out what my long-term goals are, I know that I am rushing for things to happen, which is not good. It mean it does make sense that I was getting ahead of myself since my practice became my sole income source. I was constantly trying to plan my next move, develop more ideas, create partnerships, and more! I was becoming overwhelmed and ultimately beginning to dislike the position I was in.

I thought back to my previous 3 years of just doing my practice on the side, without much real effort (minus the insurance provider part). During that time, I still gained clients and had opportunities arise. I realized I was stressing myself out over just 2-months of focusing all of my efforts on my business. I thought to myself that I really did a lot more than I was giving myself credit for. I did something scary and challenging by quitting my job in December. I reached out to potential partners and gain two solid ones on top of those I already was working with. I landed a contract for a 6-week class that turned into an additional 7-week class (since the participants were so happy with the program I did). I created and stuck to a more consistent blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram post schedule. I began networking with other Dietitians in my area. I took the chance to run for a position with the Philadelphia Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. I became a blogger for Eat Right PA. The list goes on and on.

You may be reading this thinking to yourself that it may be great I am doing all of these things; however, why should you care. Well, if you are in private practice or are thinking about it you may probably get to the stage that I am in where you wonder if you should be doing more. You may wonder why (constantly) you chose to do something that is scary and unknown most of the time. I challenge you to take a few moments and write out all of the positive things you have done in the last month or even week. Doing so can help you to put in perspective just how much effort you have put into your business. The reason why I do this despite all of the doubts I have is that it is so rewarding to have success in something that you worked so hard for on your own (i.e. without a large company supporting you along the way, especially financially).

While the first two months have been flying by I know that I am doing all the right things and I need to not worry so much about forcing new ideas or opportunities. I know that if I keep doing what I am doing on a daily basis (at the level of quality I am), these opportunities will come, just as they have in the past. Getting overwhelmed is stressful and to be blunt, useless. It paralyzes you and can inhibit your creativity and drive. If I start to get overwhelmed, I journal (which really helps me to see what I have accomplished already), I go for a walk, I make a list, I go to the gym, etc. Taking that time to clear my head gets me back in the game, gets me motivated, and helps me to weed through clutter to make real progress.

So, what are your stressing over that is useless and inhibiting your creativity and drive for success?

Check out my last blog post on “Tackling Your Business Fears”Tackling Business Fears