Ask Julie

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Q: Private Practice
I am really interested in private practice. Not only is it a contemporary issue that is relevant at present due to job shortages, but also I have chosen this area as a topic for an assignmnet at university. I am in my 4th year and interested in the requirements regarding setting up my own practice. i realise that experience is important and believe that i will try to gain as much as possible before even thinking of going into private practice.
What are the requirements regarding legal issues? How did you choose and area of practice and how do you promote your practice?

I hope you dont mind answering my questions.

Thank you.

A: Legal issues:
Contact the BAOT for documentation relating to legal issues. You must adhere to the BAOT and HPC code of conduct, you must be HPC registered, if working with vulnerable adults or children a police check is essential, records of course must be kept (data protection rules apply) and of course records must be kept for tax purposes.
It is difficult to say how many years of practice you need before venturing into private practice. I worked for 13 years before becoming a private OT. Some OT companies specify a minimum number of years but it is the experience in those years that count and also the type of work that you do.
You need to be self-sufficient, self-motivated and highly organised to survive (or pay someone to look after you administration and accounts). OTIP provide help and networking that is very useful in early years.
Personal experience:
After learning all I could about business practice (completed GCSE and A level in business studies, then went on 1 year of free start up courses including City & Guilds computer courses, and business skills. I applied and obtained the, then, Enterprise training allowance.
Initially I targeted GP’s, Physio’s, and Nursing Homes. Work often arrives purely by chance and in many ways is simply being in the right place, at the right time with the right skills. E.g.:
I went to introduce myself to a nursing home association, gave a few talks (paid) to them, gained considerable staff training work and became one of the associations’ internal verifiers.
My first legal report came via a solicitor who had a client in a Nursing Home that I had visited and wanted to try another OT out. Fifteen years later I still work for that Solicitor. Barristers (often whom I have never met or spoken to) and Solicitors recommend me.

I am on the Law Society expert witness directory but work tends to come from word of mouth, my website, yellow pages and chance meetings at Court or elsewhere. AT present I do not do any other active marketing.

I hope this is of help.