My RD Journey

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


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Private Practice Tools & Apps

When I first started PorrazzaNutrition, I did a lot via paper (i.e. my accounting, charting, etc) and I soon realized just how many files I was accumulating. Over the past couple of years, I have implemented a few systems/applications in my practice and I have complied a list of just some of them for you today. There are tons of competing products/services on the market; however, these were ones I have used personally and were satisfied with. This is not a sponsored post and I do not work for any of the companies featured below.

Organization
Trello– I have just started using this free app/site and it is awesome for individuals and teams! I love that you can create different boards (topics) and lists. I used for long-term lists and also for some of the committees I am on. I also use the boards as ideas for my blogs and then I list out talking points. It is great for me when I am not able to sit down and write on paper.
Google Drive- If you have not used GD, start now! You get a ton of free storage! I store informational sheets, blank assessment forms, and documents that I use most often on-the-go. It is way better than storing a ton of stuff on my laptop and then only being able to access if I am on it. I use GD a lot for committees I am on. It is easier to share a folder with the minutes than emailing documents back and forth every month.
Tools for Wisdom Planner– I am totally still a pen-and-paper planner person. I tried using an online calendar and hated it! I like crossing things out and being able to flip through the months with a paper planner. I am super picky about my planners and will spend hours trying to find a good one each year (haha). I currently use the Tools for Wisdom since I specifically wanted a planner with a month view plus the days in columns with an hour-by-hour format. The pages are thick enough that highlighters do not bleed through (I am a color coding queen). I might switch up again for next year since this does not include any 2018 months. I am totally open to suggestions here!

Accounting – Quickbooks
When I first began my practice, I didn’t have a ton of income/expenses so I just tracked using ledger sheets. After about 2 years, I started looking around and Quickbooks came up a lot. It is super simple to use and cheap (I pay $5.30/month). You can save different transactions for the future so they are automatically categorized as they come in. I use the app a lot on-the-go, especially since you can scan in receipts. I still use a separate accounting sheet to track unpaid classes or checks that have not been cashed yet. It definitely makes tax season a lot simpler since you can just import your information from Quickbooks without having to enter in everything manually.

Media
Dropbox– I have the Dropbox app on my phone and computers and it makes it really easy to upload files or pictures. I take a ton of photos and it syncs automatically with my computer where I can then move them to an external hard-drive or save to my photos.
-Canva– Awesome for designing posts for social media, blogs, etc. So many free images/templates.
Pixabay–  Royalty free pictures. I take a lot more of my own photos now; however, this was really helpful for me initially.
Snapseed– Free app for editing photos. One of the best I have used so far.
Tiny Scanner– Free app that functions as a portable scanner. Your scans can be saved as a PDF or an image. I have the free version and just delete the scans once they are uploaded to where they need to be. Really useful for scanning large documents especially if you are out or don’t have a scanner at home (mine is a bit temperamental).

Newsletters – MailChimp
I use MailChimp for my bi-monthly newsletters. I also embedded a sign-up form on my website (GoDaddy) that links to my account. I like being able to embed newsletters in emails and then track the statistics after each email blast. I use the free version for my practice and have not felt the need to upgrade further yet.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, this is not a complete list of every tool/app I use in practice; however, it does include my main ones. I will be posting another blog to include my counseling/billing resources too!

I am always open to suggestions for tools, so leave a comment and let me know what types of software or applications that you use that have made your business life that much more productive (or simpler).


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Business Lessons Learned – Go With The Flow

Happy Memorial Day weekend! I thought about nixing this blog until next week; however, I was up early with my lovely feline friend (aka my cat) so I figured why not! If you have been reading my blogs lately, you will notice that this is the second blog in my “Monthly Recap” series. Back in April’s post, I set three goals for myself. I am super happy to say that I accomplished all three! These have been goals on my list for a while now; however, there is just something about having that accountability factor that pushes you to follow through. While it might seem weird to think I am being accountable to my viewers, it really helped me to focus towards having something positive to share for this post.

Lessons Learned
Be Accountable to Someone
I am always telling my clients to have someone to be accountable to (whether it is me or a spouse/friend). Again, in taking my own advice, I realized that having the accountability really helps to just give that extra push. I would challenge any business owner to identify their go-to person that they will check in with each month (or week). They can help you to review your goals, ideas, issues, etc.

Flow With Your Business
Your business will change every year or month even. Now, while this might not be a huge change, always be open to assessing and adapting with the needs of your clients. I have been changing some of my services and offerings to suit my client needs better. I now have a monthly fee for a coaching option between appointments. I use to think I would always just do the counseling and classes; however, now I want to have more time to myself so I am working towards more products versus services. My point here is not to pigeon-hole yourself into one way of thinking about your business. Always be open to opportunity and change for that matter.

Act First
One of my biggest downfalls is over planning and not acting. It took me so long to get an outline written for my book because I was worried about how I would sell it. Why does selling it matter if I don’t even have a product to sell?? I can often waste hours researching and planning to start something and then not even starting it because I am so wrapped up in the preparation. While I think planning is a great step, don’t get hung-up on it for an extended time. Yes, do some short research and then ACT.

Key Defining Moment
Health Fair Competition
This month, I attended a health fair for one of the companies I work with for weight management classes and also provide on and off-site counseling for. This company has a few dietitians they work with since they have a huge incentive program around wellness. At this recent health fair, about 7 different dietitians were there promoting their business and counseling services. Being the 5th dietitian in the row of tables, I was wondering to myself what sets me apart from them? We all do counseling and accept insurance, so what makes me special? One little edge I have to some is that I offer in-home counseling services and still come on-site for the company. Although, this really got me thinking about my brand and how I want to promote myself.

After the health fair, I had one client tell me that they specifically chose me out of the other dietitians because they were impressed with my professionalism, table set-up, and business cards. Now, I am not one to ever put down another dietitian and I thought some of the other tables looked awesome, so I simply thanked him and moved on in conversation. I was one of the only tables without a food sample (since I had planned a game instead), so I originally thought no one would be interested in what I had. Although I did have quite a few sign-ups for counseling and my newsletter, I still didn’t think I would be standing out as much from the other tables.

0524171435c-02For any health fair, I always bring my PorrazzaNutrition banner, handout holders, 1-2 handouts (tip sheets), info sheet about myself that I put in a plastic stand-up, 2-3 recipe cards, 1-3 coupons, newsletter sign-up + counseling interest list, business cards in my shopping cart holder, pens, and 1-2 visuals (I had an avocado this day + poster on salt). All in all I realized a few things, I always cater to different individuals with my variety of handouts/recipes, I have visuals to grab attention, I have an awesome business card holder that spurs conversation, I keep the table clean and tidy (especially since I didn’t have food to worry about), and I dress to impress. I set-up my table based on my experiences with previous health fairs and what looks visually appealing to me. I learned, in this moment, that comparing myself to others is so silly since we all target different clients and have our own ways of doing things. There may be many clients who preferred other tables based on their specific needs and what appealed to them. This situation was a huge moment for me because I made a commitment to always keep that professionalism and par level high, no matter where I am or who is watching, and to only compare myself to my past self.

Business Goal #1 – Revise and Upload 3 Meal Plans to my Website
I have been trying to brainstorm more products to add to my business and I realized that I have about 50 meal plans that I created for past clients. Why not update those to sell on my website?! So many clients ask me for meal plans and I usually don’t create them, but instead work with the client to brainstorm meal ideas. What I realized is what I want is not always what everyone else does, so why not just give them that? I will still have a personalized plan option and work with clients during their appointments; however, this can just be another passive income stream for me that still supports my clients’ (and potential clients’) current needs.

Business Goal #2 – Finish First Rough Draft of Book
This month, I worked on an outline for my book and I brainstormed chapter ideas. For next month, I want to put that all into a first draft. This book is the first to many ideas that I have, so I am excited to finally be in the writing process! I typically just write ideas down whenever they come and then dedicate a couple hours one-day per week (for now) to fleshing out those ideas and making them into chapters. I find for myself that I have a hard time writing at home and not getting distracted so I have been writing while between classes (since I take the train and am usually pretty early).

Business Goal #3 – Continue Building My Brand (Including Online Presence)
For this goal, I am going to continue with my blog, video, and social media schedules. I am also brainstorming what my “brand” will look like. I want to have everything integrated to match my passion and niche. I want to move away from 100% service and I feel that building more of an online presence is key to this.

What lessons have you learned this month? Did you have any defining moments or obstacles you overcame? Stay tuned for my upcoming blog’s on building YOUR brand!


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5 Tips for Speaking at Conferences

Welcome back to “My RD Journey!” If you read my last blog post, you will already know that this post is all about my first time speaking at a large conference (The Inaugural Women in Business Conference hosted by the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce). I was able to lead an individual breakout session and also serve as a panelist for a discussion on balance. In the past, I have lead seminars, given talks to students, conducted cooking classes and more; however, this was the first conference I was apart of. Today’s post, I will recap for you my (awesome) experience, plus give you tips that I learned along the way.

Tip #1 – Keep it Simple & Organized
I decided that for my individual session, I would touch on general nutrition (building a healthy plate) needs and motivation. I find with my clients that a lot know what to do; however, putting it into action is the hardest part. I wasn’t totally sure of my audience beforehand, so I tried to keep it basic and relate-able. I, for one, hate dry presentations, so I mixed up some of the general education with a few myth-busters throughout. I did use a PowerPoint; however, I didn’t put a ton of words on the slides because I didn’t want the audience to just be reading versus listening. I am definitely one that will completely stray from my outline, which isn’t a bad thing, so I didn’t want the audience trying to find where I was on the slides. One key thing here is that while having a lot of information is great, remember to keep it organized. Don’t jump around too much since you might lose the interest of your group.

Tip #2 – Allow Time for Questions
You can decide whether or not to have participants ask questions throughout your presentation or just at the end. I usually say that they can ask questions throughout if they need clarification; however, I do ask them to otherwise wait until the end. I do this mainly because I had a few instances where people just constantly asked questions and I couldn’t get through all the material. Sometimes the questions were relevant to the topic and other times they were too specific for others in the class to benefit from them. I let the participants know I allotted time for questions at the end and I stuck to my timeline to keep to that.

Tip #3 – Have Evaluations
Getting feedback on your presentation is key! Sometimes, participants in my seminars don’t ask any questions and their facial expressions lead me to think they are bored out of their minds. After doing a lot of different presentations over the years, I found that a lot of people don’t want to ask questions for a few reasons. Some think their questions are “stupid” – I have never had a “stupid” serious question. Some would rather ask questions individually after the session. Some are just taking in all the information and don’t have questions just yet. There are so many reasons for lack of questions. With all that being said, the evaluations are a great way for you to get feedback (positive or negative) and work out the kinks for next time.

Tip #4 – Come Prepared
Being prepared is a huge part of your presentation success. Know what your talking about so you are not just reading from your notes. Have your business cards available so the participants can follow-up with you later (possibly become clients of yours). Make a simple handout and pass it out at the end so you don’t end up with distracted participants. Know what setting is available for your presentation too. Do you have the ability to run a PowerPoint and if so, do you bring the hook-ups and laptop? Will there be tables for the audience or just chairs (important if doing writing activities)? Get as much information as you can beforehand so you are ready to go the day of. Being prepared will help you to eliminate unnecessary stress and be able to deliver an effective presentation that will engage your audience.

Tip #5 – Have Fun & Just Be You
This conference was such an awesome experience for me. I am so passionate about what I do and teach that after a presentation, I usually feel energized and invigorated. With practicing a lot over the years in different settings, I am now really comfortable public speaking and answering on-the-spot questions. I typically get at least a few attendees come up to me after with positive comments; however, I was totally blown away by the positive response at this conference. I had so many women come up to me throughout the rest of the day to introduce me to their friends, comment on the information, and speak to my enthusiasm and positive energy for the topic. It really is a crazy feeling to have people tell you that you are an inspiration to them. As a dietitian, I try to help others find a passion for nutrition and healthy eating; however, some days are just really difficult inspiring change. To know that I inspired a group of women in just 45-minutes was just so awesome (for lack of a better word).

So, if you are presenting in any type of setting, just remember that your enthusiasm and your passion can inspire others to make a change. Put your own spin on things and just relate to your crowd in any way that you can. The more you can connect the better the experience is for everyone.


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April Recap – Lessons Learned

April has probably been my busiest month so far in full-time private practice. I had two conferences, both of which I was apart of the planning process, 3 speaking engagements, plus my normal business load (clients and classes). I definitely thought a lot about balance and what that means for myself and my future practice. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I have been trying to change how I do business to allow for more free time.

So, this month (and those in the future), I want to share with you my “Lessons Learned,” “Key Defining Moments,” and “Business Goals.” I decided on these topics for a few reasons; one of which is that other RDs always ask me what I would have done differently (hence lessons learned) when starting my practice. I also always get asked how I keep myself motivated, which involves pivotal moments and setting goals for myself. My hope is that my monthly recap can help someone else in their practice or career in general.

Lessons Learned 
“Always assume there is something to learn.” “Don’t just show-up, but engage.” 
Sometimes when I think about going somewhere I question whether I will get anything out of it. I mean, after all, my time is critical for me to keep a hold on. I realized that you get what you put into ANY situation. If you want to learn, ask questions and be involved. Engage in conversations and do more than just show-up. If you approach situations with a mindset of knowing you will learn, you will.

“Take advice from the experts.” 
What is funny about this lesson is that I always tell people to see a Dietitian for nutrition help because they are the experts. Somewhere along the way I stopped applying this to my personal/business life. Instead of hiring an accountant for tax season, I figured I would do it myself. About 6 hours later, I filed my federal and state taxes, plus learned how to pay quarterly ones. I then realized I had two city taxes to file only days before the deadline. I tried doing the forms myself online and could not get the numbers to populate correctly. It basically kept saying I owed $0, which I knew was incorrect. After a brief panic attack, I realized that I had the business card of an accountant I knew from school AND I had just reconnected with him while on the train. Despite it being late notice, he helped me to figure out what I was doing wrong fairly quickly and all was well. What I learned from this was breaking down wasn’t going to solve a thing; taking action and figuring out a plan would. I also realized it would have been so much easier (and tax deductible) to have worked with him from the beginning instead of wasting all that time stressing and struggling through it on my own. While I am a huge proponent of learning for yourself, it is really important to know what your limits are.

Key Defining Moments 
PAND AME 
This year I was apart of the planning process for the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics’ Annual Meeting and Exhibition. To be honest, I had not gone in the past since I thought I wouldn’t get much out of it. It was such an awesome experience for me. Not only did I get to know some other great Dietitians, but I learned a ton! The best thing about it was that a few RDs came up to me saying they had read my RD Journey blog and had followed me to learn more about private practice. These were people I either never met before or those I knew from years ago but didn’t keep in touch. I also saw a few of my previous preceptors and one had said she still used materials I created for her programming. I was super proud of myself but also realized that I needed to continue on the path I was on to build my brand and products even further.

Running for the Train
Since I really hate driving downtown for my cooking classes, I have been taking the train instead. This means I walk about 1.2 miles to the train station lugging all of my stuff for class. I had a lot of materials for my class last week, so I had a backpack full of stuff plus a rolling suitcase. I had a difficult class attendee who was arguing with me about olive oil being bad for you since it is controlled by the MAFIA, yes the MAFIA. This attendee also said doctors have nutrition certs and you should trust them for diet advice. Needless to say, I was a bit flustered, which then led to me being a careless and cutting my thumb with a knife. Not sure anyone noticed; however, fast forward to me rushing to clean-up to catch the train on time. I ran 3 blocks with a huge backpack and a rolling suitcase all while holding a paper towel on my bleeding thumb since I couldn’t find band-aids. Two ladies also yelled to me, “Run! You will make it. We believe in you,” which just added to the level of crazy. I made it with 3 minutes to spare (only because the train schedule changed and I didn’t realize). So, I am standing there sweating with a bleeding thumb and said to myself, “Never again.” This day was a huge defining moment for me because not only was the afternoon stressful, but I was doing all of it to not even represent my own brand. I definitely had a lot to think about while walking the 1.2 miles home.

Business Goal #1 – Do more as PorrazzaNutrition and less as a contract worker to build someone else’s company.
I made the decision this month, to cut back on the number of cooking classes I do for contract work (see train story above). Not only was the pay not adding up in terms of the time spent, but I also realized these classes are just providing income in the short-term and not allowing me to grow as PorrazzaNutrition. I made a commitment to myself to really focus on doing things that will build my brand and provide income, even if it is in the long-term. This is a huge mental shift for me since I am walking away from quick income; however, long-term, I know this is the best route.

Business Goal #2 – Create and upload at least 3 YouTube videos in May. 
As some of you may know, my drive for video creation was halted when I was in a car accident about a year and a half ago. This is another piece of my business that will not only expand the individuals that I reach, but also, create passive income in the future.

Business Goal #3 – Create a solid outline for my first e-book.
I keep saying that I want to write an e-book and telling people my plan; however, all I have done is write down topics. So, my goal for this month is to actually get more of an outline together and brainstorm chapter specifics. I got so caught up in formatting and how to write the book that I lost sight of the fact that the content is the most important thing. Who cares about formatting and selling when you don’t have a product yet? Priorities!

What lessons have you learned this month? Did you have any defining moments or obstacles you overcame this month?

Stay tuned for next week’s post for my thoughts on my first conference speaking engagement!


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Tips for Setting Fees in Private Practice

After turning down an opportunity for a another set of contract classes that I had run in the past, I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about how important knowing your worth is and how to set fees based on that. It is hard to put a price on the service provided as a Dietitian. I want to help people and almost feel guilty charging too much and losing a client; however, at the same time, I rely on my business for income now. I have changed my fees multiple times in the past few years, so today’s blog is going to guide you through my thought process and give you tips for setting your own fees (for individual sessions + classes).

Research Dietitians in Your Area
One of the first things I did when trying to figure out what to charge for counseling sessions was to see what other RDs were charging near me. A few did not list their fees on their website (I will talk about this in other blogs); however, the majority were in the $120-$175 range for an initial 1-hour consultation. I ended up going a bit lower since I had just started my practice and didn’t have a masters degree or specialty certification yet.

Factor in Expertise + Education
As I mentioned earlier, I low-balled my initial fees for counseling; however, after getting my masters and having my practice for a year or two, I bumped up my fees to match what others charged in my area. When setting your hourly rate or counseling fees, think about your education, experience, certifications, etc. Your knowledge and level of experience is adding to the value that the client receives in the session (or class).

Base off of Insurance Fee Schedules
If you are a provider for insurance companies, you will have a flat rate that they will reimburse you and that changes slightly from initial to follow-up visit for MNT. You can use the rate that insurance reimburses for self-paying clients or choose to make that a little bit lower since they are paying out-of-pocket. The fee schedule for insurances helped me to alter my pricing a bit.

Triple Your Hourly Employee Rate
Something else I thought about when setting fees for counseling was determining what I was paid hourly when I was an employee and multiplying that by 3. Three seems arbitrary; however, I thought that 1/3 goes to me, 1/3 to taxes, and 1/3 to time spent on prepping. This can just help to give you that baseline rate to build from.

Offer Packages + Add-ins
When I think about my initial counseling fee, I also factor in what other “service” I bring to the session. Will the session include bio-metrics? Will I calculate nutrient needs? Will this be an in-home visit or office-based visit? If your initial session is simpler, you can charge a bit lower for the hour and have add-ins that clients can choose from. Say they want menu planning help, that can be added for an extra $60 (or whatever you will charge). Maybe they want a nutrient analysis done for their current meal plan, that can be an extra $50 or so. I also find it helpful to offer packages to clients.

Note About Charging for Classes
The classes were the hardest for me to determine rates for; however, I found the formula below to help me:
Start with Base Rate – $100/hr (I base this off of my flat counseling rate)
+ Travel Expenses – $.50/mile
+ Parking Fees
+ Prep Time/Lesson Development – $40/hour
+ Cost for Supplies/Handouts

When I determine how I am charging for a class, I alter it on a case-to-case basis. My base rate my be lower or higher depending on if this is an ongoing class or a one-time seminar. If I am driving for more than 30-minutes, I may also add in a fee based on the time spent in my car. Parking may be free for some classes/areas; however, others tend to be $20 just for the hour, so this will change too. If I created lessons on this topic before, I may charge $30 or $40/hour for prep time. If this is a new topic or the client wants it to be more involved, then I may charge $50 or $60 for the hour of prep. Lastly, I factor in a few dollars based off of how many handouts I needed. If I am providing a cooking class, I estimate the amount of food needed and will have another fee added to the pricing.

There are so many ways that you can calculate fees for classes. I have often charged a flat rate (lower than $100) and then added in a cost per person ($20/head) with a minimum number required to run the class. Charging for classes will definitely vary per client/company. For some non-profits, I have accepted a lower rate for a one-time class in exchange for them distributing my business cards or keeping me on a list as a dietitian. It is ultimately up to you to decide what you feel the most comfortable charging.

Final Tips
Setting fees for individual clients and group sessions is often difficult. One of the key things I have learned is really knowing your worth and not being afraid to walk away from something. I have had companies/organizations try and take advantage of my services. I even had one goes as far as guilt tripping me into thinking I was a monster for trying to charge even 1/3 of what I normally do. I am all about giving back to my community and providing free programs/seminars. What I need to be careful of is keeping the balance between free and paid work. I often think about if doing something will open doors for me or create opportunity. If the answer is yes, I will provide a free service (i.e. lunch n’ learn for a company I may partner with, teaching in a school for the day, etc). If the answer is absolutely no (or slim), I rethink my decision. After all, one of the reasons I went into private practice, which I am sure may be the reason for many, is having the ability to choose your own destination.

Leave a comment and let me know if this blog was helpful to you in determining how you will set fees for your practice. Was there something else you thought about that I didn’t mention?

Stay tuned for my next blog that will break down billable hours + setting income goals.


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First 10 Steps to Starting Your Private Practice

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about preparing yourself for full-time private practice. I realized afterwards that I hadn’t included a post about getting started with your private practice! So, while this is just slightly out of order, I have included a lot of links and resources for getting yourself set-up for private practice. Some of these resources I used when I was first starting out and others I found out about afterwards. I actually ended up doing some of the steps out of the order mentioned below; however, this is what seems to make the most sense for me now.

1. Get an NPI –> LINK
Even if you decide not to accept insurance, it is still something you want to get. It doesn’t even take long to register for one. Excerpt from the website: “The Administrative Simplification provisions of HIPAA of 1996 mandated the adoption of standard unique identifiers for health care providers and health plans. The purpose of these provisions is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the electronic transmission of health information.”

2. Get a Tax ID Number or EIN –> LINK
Your EIN is your federal tax ID number that is used to ID your business entity; generally businesses need this. This was a pretty simple process as well. You will need to choose a business name. Here is a LINK for information on registering your fictitious name. For my business I am Felicia Porrazza doing business as PorrazzaNutrition. If you are doing business under your full and proper name, you are not required to register your personal name as a fictitious name. I think I spent maybe 2 hours initially trying to figure out if I needed to further register my name in PA. This may vary state-to-state so be sure to check your individual Department of the State website to see what regulations are in place. You will also need to choose your business entity or business structure in this form. Here is a great LINK explaining the types of business structures by the US Small Business Administration, a great resource!

3. Get Professional Liability Insurance –> LINK
I am a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and the one they recommended is Proliability by Mercer. I am pretty sure they still offer a discount for AND members. It is reasonably priced and covered the basics for what I needed as a Dietitian.

4. Insurance Vs. Self Pay Acceptance 
I am not going to go into too much detail here because this will be featured in another post; however, one thing to think about is if you will be accepting insurance or only self-paying clients (or both). If you will only accept self-paying clients, you can move to step 5. If you will accept insurance, I would highly suggest getting yourself set-up with CAQH ProView. This is a free resource that allows you to decrease paperwork for becoming a provider with insurance companies. It will ask for your professional and practice information, credentialing info, directory services, etc. When you go to apply to become a provider for a particular insurance company, they will ask for your CAQH number. It has really helped me to streamline the process and avoid entering the same information 10 times. The application takes a bit of time; however, it was very much worth it! I started working on this step while I was still working a full-time job since it took a few months to get credentialed anyways.

5. Deciding Pricing 
This is again going to be another blog post; however, setting your fees is often the hardest step. I find it difficult to put a number on the valuable service I provide. Needless to say, it has to be done. One way to get started on this is by checking out what other Dietitians or health professionals are charging in your area. Factor in your expertise, years of being a dietitian, etc. If you choose to accept insurance, they will have a contracted amount that you will be paid per unit (15-minutes per one unit and you can have multiple units per appointment). You could also use this as a guideline for how you charge self-paying individuals. I found it to be helpful to include counseling packages for savings with self-paying clients.

6. Payment Acceptance
Along with deciding your pricing, you will need to figure out how you will accept payment. Will you set-up an account with PayPal? Get a merchant account through your local bank? There are a lot of different options out there. You can choose to do only checks or cash; however, I would suggest getting a separate business banking account regardless of the route you choose.

7. Decide Your Online Presence
When developing your online presence, you can choose from a number of sites and hosting services. For your website, you can choose to go with companies like Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy, etc. You could also use WordPress and update your account to have a .com address. I am not going to get too far into website design and such; however, I am going to just touch on what you may want to include on your site –> information page about yourself and your business, location, services offered (you may or may not include pricing too), contact information, pictures, blogs (or link to blog), testimonials (may come later), newsletter opt-in, etc. I created my website about a year before registering my business and accepting insurance. I didn’t have much on the site and I basically just linked it to my blogs where I was much more active. This is a step you can do at basically do at any time in creating your practice.

8. Decide on Office Space/Set-up
This is definitely a step that you can do earlier in the ballgame. There are a few options for how you choose to see clients. You can do in-home counseling appointments, where you basically go to the client’s home. You will need to make sure insurance will cover this if you are a provider. You can rent office space for yourself or sublet from another provider (doctor, chiropractor, etc), which is usually cheaper. Other options for renting office space can include using a shared office where you schedule times to come in and pay either monthly or on a single-use basis. You can see clients in your own home; however, you will need to need to check to see if there are stipulations or zoning laws. Here is a LINK for some more information on that. You can also provide virtual counseling services, which again have stipulations especially in the insurance provider realm. Here is a great article from Today’s Dietitian on the TOPIC. If you are a member with the AND, you can also check out this LINK. 

9. Create Office Forms
One of the last things you will need to do before seeing clients is to get your office paperwork in order. You will need an initial client form, privacy notices, privacy consents, HIPAA forms, release of information form (for you to speak to family members or doctors), and a policy form relating to your business (for information on cancellation fees, rescheduling, non-payment, etc). I would also suggest thinking about how you will log business income and expenses too. EatRightPro has a great section on HIPAA with education and forms –> LINK.

10. Additional Tips 
There are a lot of free resources out there for starting your business. Some may not be related to the Dietitian realm; however, they can still prove to be quite useful. Check out your local Small Business Administration for tips on building your business. Network with other Dietitians or health professionals in your area to see how you can help one another. I purchased this AND book and found it to be really helpful when I first started out. The AND published another book on credentialing and billing that is free for members; however, I didn’t find it useful at my stage of practice (it may be for those just starting though). I also discovered that the Free Library of Philadelphia had a lot of free online and in-person resources for business owners, so I suggest checking out your local library too.

This is by no means intended to be an all encompassing list. I am sure there are additional steps that you may have heard of or wish to include in starting your own private practice. This was simply from my point-of-view and how I thought might be helpful for others. You can jump around with the steps I have included and even eliminate those that may not apply to your business. Regardless of how the information today was presented, I hope that this helped you in some aspect of starting your business!

Leave me a comment to let me know what I missed, what you found helpful, or where you are in your 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?