Speech pathology private practice is a wonderful setting to work in, and I had the pleasure of working in this setting for a few years. I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED IT! I loved it so much that I started my OWN private practice.
When most speech pathology students picture what therapy will be like in the "real world," they picture private practice!
Assessment/goals/therapy/dismissal is based on evidence-based practice, clinical expertise, and experience.
There are a few cons to consider though... life is not perfect!
1. Flexibility with goals, assessments, & treatment
The number one thing I love most of private practice is the FLEXIBILITY!!! When I was in grad school, I pictured assessing a patient, writing a report and goals, treating that patient with evidence-based therapy techniques, and then dismissing the patient when appropriate.
This is the ONLY setting where that dream becomes "mostly" true!
I also love being able to see children in their homes. I find when therapy is conducted in a child's home, progress is quicker.
2. Strong parent relationship
Parents have to drop off, pick up, and take part in therapy. Sometimes, therapy takes place in the home. Either way, there is constant parent-therapist contact. I saw what an impact a strong parent-therapist relationship had on progress. When parents are updated on goals, hand-given a home program, and observe therapy, children make fast progress.
3. Variety of disorders
You get to see anything! The variety of assessment and therapy appeals to me. I get bored by the "same old thing."
4. Assessment, lots of assessment!
I love assessing patients. I enjoy the challenge of putting "all the piece together" and then creating a "game plan. " In this setting, I completed the MOST formal, comprehensive assessments...by far!
5. Pay Advantage
If you work for yourself and have a successful practice, this setting has the potential to be the highest paying. Most speech therapists don't enter the field for money; however, money is important. This setting has the potential for higher salaries compared to others. I want to emphasize potential. This will depend on caseload numbers, no-show rates, and a steady stream of new referrals.
6. Less Paperwork
There is still paperwork. However, when compared with IEPs, the paperwork is less.
1. Long hours
For me, this is the biggest drawback. Many children are seen during "after school hours." Therefore, you work until 6 or 7 at night. However, depending on how you structure your practice, this is flexible. You can can see young children in their homes or contract to private schools or daycares.
2. Pay is not steady
This is especially true if you work for yourself. Your paycheck depends on patient's showing up for appointments and a constant stream of referrals. For some, this is a deal breaker and is something to consider.
3. Lack of benefits
Again, if you work for a big company, this may not apply to you. If you work for yourself or for a small company, you may not have paid vacations, paid holidays, sick days, retirements accounts, etc... However, salary is usually higher in this setting so this may balance itself out.
4. Dealing directly with payments
Many speech pathologists are uncomfortable charging and collecting payments. In grad school, we are taught all about speech therapy (obviously). However, we are not taught about business. Therefore, business skills aren't are strongest skills. If you put the time into it, these skills can be learned.
5. Dealing with insurance companies
Some private practices are insurance providers. This may bring in more clients who could not afford private practice rates otherwise, but dealing with insurance companies can devour your time and create major headaches!
6. Lack of co-workers
Having lots of co-workers especially from other disciplines does wonders for development of skills. In private practice, you may only have a handful of co-workers. It can be a bit lonely.