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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Confessions of a non-private-speechie

I am a speech pathologist*.
I do not want to own a private practice#.

There, I said it.

Ok, here’s what you probably need to know:
  • Australia is working really hard right now to bring in a new system of supporting people with disabilities
  • This new system is called the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
  • One** of the biggest changes is where the money comes from and goes to
  • In the past, most*** of the money came from the state government and went to organisations
  • In the future the money will come from the federal (Australian) government and also the state government and it will go straight to people with disabilities****
  • People will be able to spend their money with organisations like they used to, or hire private businesses or even hire their own staff
  • In NSW, the state government owned service for people with intellectual disabilities will close down

So what? You might say…
Well, this is a big deal and it’s exciting and scary and inspiring and exhausting and thrilling and overwhelming all at the same time.

As a speech pathologist I get asked weekly “Why aren’t you in private practice? There’s lots of business out there!”. 
But there’s a reason I’m not in private practice. I am not good at it and (probably more importantly) I don’t enjoy it. It takes a lot of time, energy and bravery to step out in business. How do I know this? I’ve been there before. And I don’t want to go back. Here’s why...

1- There’s no “i” in team
When I have worked as part of wonderful interdisciplinary teams (that is, teams with occupational therapists, early education teachers, psychologists, case managers and more), I have relished in the incredible value that each discipline contributes to the other. What good is it if I could teach someone to make a request, but they can’t sit up to look at another person? What’s the point if I can help a fussy eater to try new foods if they don’t have the wheelchair that means join their family at the table? Working in teams like this is fundamental to good support for people with disabilities.

2- Therapist generalisation alert!
I am a therapist. Therapists love to help people to achieve their goals. We don’t like giving people bills for doing what we love. The philosophies of business and therapy often contradict each other, creating a paradox that some of us would rather avoid.

3- Our friends: freedom and responsibility
When you run your own business there is great freedom! But there is huge responsibility. When you are the boss, there’s no red tape! Imagine that! You have a good idea… BAM! It’s implemented! However, the pressure to grow, achieve, profit and constantly project a positive image in business is a burden. One unhappy customer can mean thousands of dollars in lost business. That is a burden I’ve borne before and I take my hat off to those who can bear it.

Of course, I understand that none of these reasons should necessarily stop me from running my own private practice. But, for now, it's not for me.

I'd love to hear about what other speechies think on this topic! Why or why aren't you in private practice?
I'd love to know what non-speechies think too! Do you think there should be more speechies in private practice?

* That's what we're usually called in Australia
** There's lots and lots and lots of changes. This is just one of them. Here's where you can find more information
*** But not all...
# I reserve the right to change my mind at any time!

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