As midwives, we go through years of college and post graduate education and clinical training. We learn a lot about women’s bodies and supporting the natural processes of puberty through menopause, of everything childbearing and breastfeeding. We learn to provide excellent midwifery care – the science and the art of it. We learn prevention and management of complications and emergencies, and to collaborate or refer to a physician, when we are presented with situations beyond our broad scope of practice. But, we don’t get any training on running a successful practice! Many go in blindly trying to learn as they go and stumbling lots. There is lots of lost time, money, and anxiety over mistakes learned along the way.
10 Skills You Need to Learn for Running a Successful Midwifery Practice
1) Bookkeeping. Makin sure your income and expense trends are going how you projected and keep your accountant happy at the end of the year requires you to understand or outsource to a qualified bookkeeper. Billing, collections, taxes, accounts payable. If you don’t have financial systems in place from the start, things can get pretty messy.
2) Dealing with insurance companies. If you plan to stay cash, that is great, but you will have a hard time really being successful and scaling up unless you care for the Amish! If you plan to accept medical insurance (strongly encourage out of network arrangements), there’s a whole world of claims, codes, and coverage that you need to understand.
3) Online Marketing. Between the ever-changing social media platforms, chat rooms and websites, online marketing can feel overwhelming. It’s important to learn how to stand out on the over-crowded internet. This is one I strongly suggest outsourcing to the experts!
4) Client paperwork. Making needed practice forms, legal documents, and informative handouts for clients is a must in every practice. There are essential documents you need to include with client paperwork to reduce your risk, improve outcome, and stay with compliance regulations. Meet with a midwife business consultant, midwife mentor in the area, or lawyer to make sure you are creating everything you need to care for clients with your midwife practice.
5) Charting. The most efficient chart forms vary from practice to practice. And charting challenging cases can be well…challenging. There are so many EHR systems out there and each one has their pros and cons to consider. Depending on your service line, it may make sense to go with a midwife EHR system like Maternity Neighborhood or Client Care. If you are doing a larger scale women’s health clinic, may make more sense to eClinical Works or Athena Health.
6) Professional communications. As you grow your practice, there will be a variety of situations that call for written communications to other health care professionals. These include networking and forming collaborative relationships, thank you notes for excellent supportive care, and summarizing cases for consultations or referrals.
7) External Communications. These are letters written to individuals outside the health care team on behalf of expectant mothers as their obstetric care provider. For example, disability claims, approval for gym membership, dental work, or travel, insurance exemptions, as well as payments and appeals.
8) Team Management. As my practice grew, it became increasingly necessary to have clarity about the roles of other members in my practice. Birth assistants and administrative team members need clear protocols for things like handling emergencies and maintaining certain skill sets.
9) Supply Management. This may seem simple, but not having the right supplies for a care visit or a birth can be a real nuisance. There are so many midwife suppliers out there and you need to research which is the best price, quality, and value for the needs you currently have. Some items may last a long time and buying in bulk if storage is available would make the most sense to do.
10) Self-care. Setting boundaries in your practice for your own personal health and self-care is key to being the best you can be for everyone in your life – family, clients, and self. This is a big one! Too many midwives want to be everything for their clients making their family and personal needs come second. Your midwifery practice is a business and should always be second to your family with back up collaboration plans in place to support your family needs and your clients at the same time.
There are many ways to successfully run a midwifery practice. No matter which type of midwifery practice you want to open, reach out to the experts around you and utilize them. Start with friends, families, and midwifery colleagues that are running businesses for advice and support. We have so many great resources out there to run a successful midwifery practice, you just need to take the time and learn from them!