Setting up your midwifery practice from the beginning can be overwhelming and daunting. Take things day by day. Make list of things to do: supply ordering, marketing, business plan, funds, birth assistants, malpractice insurance, legal paperwork like CLIA, business entity registry, consultation arrangements, and license to practice in state.
Find a mentor in your area to help you. Make it a win-win situation, offer to work in her office as a volunteer while the midwife is showing you her business model and providing YEARS of knowledge with running an independent midwifery practice. Midwives getting close to retiring want to pass on their skills and wisdom. Your practice will grow much faster having the next retiring midwife as your practice the main referral source for her clients. Talk about a cheap way to market your practice by taking over on another midwife’s caseload when she decides to end practicing midwifery.
Figure out what your midwife practice vision looks like. Do you want to do home births birth center, birth center franchise, well women clinic, niche service like pelvic floor therapy or breastfeeding support only? The possibilities are endless. Midwives are pushed to work long hours and hard situations at times. If you don’t LOVE what you do, it will be hard to stay with the practice during the tough times. Starting out, there will be many late nights and days without seeing your family. Make sure your mission and cause is worth leaving your family to create this amazing midwifery practice.
Writing a business plan will answer many of the start up and planning questions. Having a mission, goals, services rendered, budget, competition list, inventory, resources, staff training, birth assistants, billing, marketing, and practice location will really help smooth out planning and running process once the doors are open. Most start up business close in five years (90%+). By spending the time prepping and planning stages of expansion and actual monetary needs for each waves of slowness and rapids growth will decrease your stress level. By focusing on planning before doing your busy midwifery role, the day to day operations will go dramatically simpler.
Professional burnout is a real thing and growing everyday. Health care is a demanding profession and midwives sometimes give their entire lives to serve women. We can still be great midwives while having a family/personal life. Creating a balance from the beginning and boundaries of what your practice will have from you will cut the divorce rates, adult children that won’t talk to midwives anymore, and missing phenomenal vacations away from the practice.
Many of my blogs repeat the same themes: SELF CARE. We want successful, long term stable midwifery practices. I want women to have more midwives to choose from than OB for prenatal care. I am grateful for high risk care providers if a women is sick. Midwives are the experts in normal birth and need to do business training to compete with the current health care challenges on midwifery.
Spend just as much time training to be a midwife as business classes. If you want to work for someone, just focus on midwifery. Most midwives dream of running their own utopia practice. We can ALL DO THAT SUCCESSFUL with proper business knowledge.
We have a sample business plan in the store to save many hours of planning and prepping. Customize it to your needs and be professional looking to banks for a loan and potential consultation doctors. It is amazing how many more doctors worked with me once I sat down and showed them my business plan. It shows people that don’t know you, “She is serious. This practice will be successful and decrease my risk by interacting with her. She knows what she is doing.” Trust is quickly captured with medical communities when safety is shown with policies of risk out criteria, transport plans, evidence based practice protocols. Unknown causes fear to customers and medical community. Brag about your planning, training, and policies present with the midwifery practice.
Many of my long term established relationships are from repeated meetings ahead of time versus waiting until there was an issue with a patient or poor outcome. Be proactive versus reactive with women and their babies. Safety is shown with planning, prepping, and coordinating resources AHEAD of time. Have Family Practice physicians, Obstetricians, and Pediatricians in your communities planning to serve. It is harder to get them to sign a written agreement (especially when employed by a larger organization versus private practice). Informal relationships are just as important as written ones. Have regular meetings (bring them lunch to their offices every few months) to show appreciation for your collaborative relationship. Kindness and positive gestures really help during 2am phone calls from patients and a doctor is needed to be called for consultation recommendations.
Inventory is a tough one. My personal is buy in bulk and pay for storing items. That is great for an established practice. When you are starting out, buy just the items you need to safely care for families and volume you anticipate having. Allows have spares of essential items like doppler, stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, Neonatal Resuscitation equipment like oxygen tanks, bleeding medications, delivery instruments, charting forms printed, and protective barrier supplies like gloves. Get organized with your office and birth bags. Spending precious time looking for an item when you arrive at a women’s house when she is close to delivering is not acceptable.
Funding is a big perceived barrier for many midwives (especially hospital midwives wanting own branch out on their own). Money is always available if your business plan is strong and money will be made. You can find start up investors, SBA loans from banks, or family support loans for your cause with proper passion and planning. Figuring out what you really need for money is hard. Each midwife will need a different amount. It depends on size of practice vision, area serves, birth center versus home birth practice, solo practice versus larger midwifery practice, or business regulation overhead costs. Don’t let the money scare you away. Take business classes, crunch the numbers from research you did, and see if volume you want to serve will cover overhead and your goal salary.
There are many things to do when starting a midwifery practice. Biggest thing I want everyone to take away from this blog is plan, prep, and have sufficient funds available as backup for business start up eb and flow. We all can have our dream midwifery practice. Be determined, passionate, and knowledgeable to business side of midwifery, rest will fall into place! Relationships will be made with like minded midwives and knowledge will be passed back and forth. Use your resources and get inspired today to create the next best midwifery practice in your town.
We created the course, Tips for Running a Successful Midwifery Practice, to teach you all you need to know about being a midwife.