Let me fast forward 7 years, and tell you where I am today. I can’t believe I’m in my seventh year of practice already! Residency went by slowly but steadily, and my surgical intern year felt like an eternity. However, my time in private practice just blew by.
Let me start off by saying: I’m still here! Yay!!! I’m proof of concept that not only can you survive in solo practice, but you can in fact thrive in it! (Lol. I sound like an infomercial…but wait, there’s more!) It’s pretty crazy that my source of stress has evolved from trying to pay the bills and stay afloat to now being overwhelmed with patients instead.
On opening week in 2011, I saw 6 patients total, of which 2 of them were my front desk person and her husband, 3 were family friends, and 1 was charity care. This week, I saw 94 patients and had 2 cataract surgeries.
Here are my current stats:
- 7,100 charts to date, with new patient appointments booked out by 2-3 weeks
- Averaging 18.7 patients a day
- On pace to perform 120 cataract surgeries this year (4-5 toric IOLs, 0 multifocals)
- 4 weeks vacation this year
- Of the $350,000 original bank loan, $140,000 balance remaining
- Of the $100,000 family loan, $9,000 balance remaining
- Projected overhead: 37.5%
I currently have 1.5 full time equivalent (FTE) employees. They both man the front desk, and perform insurance preauthorizations and minor billing tasks. I have no technician, and I perform all clinical duties, including all diagnostic testing. I do all my own billing and coding, my own accounting, including filing tax returns, and still perform some janitorial tasks as well. I have 38 clinic hours a week, and work, in total, about 45 hours a week. I spend face-to-face, 30 to 40 minutes with new patients and 20 minutes with returns. My average wait time is -5 (yes. negative 5 minutes) to 10 minutes. The limiting factor for my punctuality is late patients. Most patients are satisfied with the quality of my care and service, and I currently have a 5 star average rating on Yelp with 23 reviews.
I have absolutely no desire to expand my practice or to hire a technician, optometrist, or associate. I have no plans to open a satellite office either. I don’t have an optical, I don’t do refractive surgery, I have put in zero multifocal IOLs, and I don’t own any shares in an ASC. I am approaching maximum capacity, and will be ecstatic not to exceed it.
I estimate my maximum capacity will be around 22-23 patients a day and 150 to 180 cataract surgeries a year, which I expect to reach in 2-3 years. On average, I collect $168 per patient encounter. I anticipate my expenses to increase only by 10-15%, putting my potential income around $600,000 when I’m at full speed.
I am my own boss, and the last time I went to sleep worrying about how I can impress anyone to secure my future was in 2010. I love the fact that I can be myself 100% of the time, and that I don’t have to walk on eggshells in front of anyone ever again. I love what I do, and it was indeed the ABSOLUTE best career decision ever for me.